Posts Tagged ‘Catalina Ponor’

Return of the shaky balance beam routine

May 14, 2008

Balance beam is a shaky event.For many years, the balance beam has been seen as the hardest event in gymnastics. It’s nerve-wracking, those four inches, four feet off the ground. And gymnasts have to do so much these days.

One of the things that makes Olympic champions like Carly Patterson and Andreea Raducan great is the way they almost never seemed to falter on that most precarious of events.

Seems like these days more gymnasts have major problems on uneven bars. Great all-around prospects who had difficulties hitting bars in competition or getting a start value that didn’t deflate all-around possibilities? The ranks burst with them: Vanessa Atler, Alicia Sacramone, Cheng Fei, Anna Pavlova, Sandra Izbasa, Jana Bieger, Catalina Ponor, Gina Gogean, etc.

So it’s almost refreshing to see a gymnast whose worst event is the old classic balance beam, who makes you bite your nails and get so nervous during the routine that suspense movies hardly compare.

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Ponor retires — again

December 13, 2007

Romania's Catalina Ponor says she's retiring for good.

Triple Olympic gold medalist Catalina Ponor will not be heading to Beijing this summer, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Ponor, the last Romanian superstar coached by Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang, reportedly informed the Romanian federation of her decision to retire earlier this week.

“There are medical reasons and I don’t want to take any chances,” she said, according to Realitatea TV. “I am now focusing on my university studies and I want to spend the holidays with my family.”

Ponor retired after winning the beam at the 2006 European championships, in part because of her knee problems. She returned to competition this spring and helped Romania to a bronze medal at the world championships in September.

Ponor’s relationship with her coaches and federation has been somewhat contentious since the Athens Olympics, where some argue that she stole the show by winning gold on balance beam and floor exercise.

She also recognized as the team leader of the bulletproof Romanian squad that beat out the U.S. for the gold in the team competition.

Her bout of partying after the Games may have played a part in Belu and Bitang’s throwing in the towel as the Romanian National Team coaches. The duo wound up taking jobs in the Romanian government. Nicolae Fromite, who coached Simona Amanar during her long and successful career, succeeded them.

After disappointing Romanian finishes at the 2006 World Championships, Ponor resurrected her career, ostensibly planning to lead the team at the 2008 Olympics. She brought Bitang out of retirement as well to coach her.

But disappointments this year, including the Romanian team’s third place finish at the World Championships and her own finish out of the medals on balance beam in event finals may have galvinized her decision to retire anew.

The Romanian team looked better in 2007 than it has all quad, but its gymnasts were not where they were prior to 2004.

Ponor was known for her extremely difficult combinations on balance beam and expressive (for a Romanian) dance on floor exercise.

Catalina Ponor, 2006 European Championships Event Finals, Balance Beam:

The montagemaker returns

October 3, 2007

Back in the dark ages of gymnastics montages (read: 2002 or so) few possessed the software or know-how to make them. Among those who did was a young man from Wisconsin who went by the name Lex Trotter, and to me, he was the best there was.

Lex had the ability to take a few clips and weave them into a story montage that showed the essence of the gymnasts he featured. His favorites — Yvonne Tousek, Tabitha Yim, Terin Humphrey, Michelle Conway — weren’t always on the medal stand, but each brought a presence and skills that were completely unique to the sport.

Some of Lex’s art:

Elena Produnova:

The Maverick:

The two sides of Vanessa Atler:

Terin Humphrey No. 3:

His websites, first lexness.com and then nubianpoptart.com, were a gold mine of downloadable videos from competitions like junior national championships that didn’t get NBC airtime.

But after the 2005 Worlds, Lex disappeared.

Suddenly, on August 20, he was back with a brand new page: www.aleksas.com. It has all the elements of Nubianpoptart and Lexness: a funky design, artistic personal pics and a small blog of his thoughts about life and competitions.  The site’s extensive video library has a lot of things that Youtube doesn’t. Want to see Beth Rybacki (nee Kline) at the 1980 U.S. Championships? The 1998 Sagit Cup? 1994 Goodwill Games coverage? It’s all there.

This boy is not afraid of putting it how it is either — check out his summary of the women’s team competition at the 2007 Worlds:

I heard Spain was a mess and the Aussies didn’t deserve their team finals placing. The Romanians didn’t look as absolutely flawless as they usually do on beam, but two girls do this awesome step into front somersault that lands on leg into a scale! Dang! I love the innovation of gymnastics nowadays. You wouldda thought it’d have disappeared with a more strict judging system.

He’s also got a Youtube channel, under the username Islandboyrabian.

And he hasn’t stopped making montages, nor has he lost his touch with them.

Alexsas’ new Catalina Ponor montage:

A wonderful slice of men’s gymnastics:

Shantessa Pama, who has just the personality and splash I imagine Lex loves:

Simply delightful. Let’s hope there’s more to come.