Posts Tagged ‘Valeri Liukin’

Nastia’s floor needs a closer look

April 17, 2008

Nastia LiukinPeople carp about Nastia Liukin’s vault.

It’s not hard enough, they say. It’s a one-and-a-half twisting Yurchenko. It’s so 1996.

There’s been talk that she’s upgrading to a Yurchenko double twist (Opinionated interjection with unsolicited coaching advice: Liukin should really be training a Khorkina II, which would allow her to use her twisting ability to its maximum potential), which boosts her scoring potential slightly.

Even so, many think the Olympic AA champ is going to have to throw an Amanar (2.5 twisting-Yurchenko) or have someone else, namely Shawn Johnson, fall on said vault in order to open the door for everyone else.

All true. But Liukin’s problem isn’t so much vault as much as it is floor exercise.

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The best male gymnast of all time?

February 11, 2008

Belarus' Vitaly Scherbo is considered one of the best male gymnasts of all time.The best female gymnast of all time question is debated on message boards here and there, but Amy Van Deusen, an International Gymnast Magazine correspondent who recently launched About.com’s gymnastics website, is the first I’ve seen to examine men’s gymnastics in the same way.

In the women’s category, the answer flits between Nadia Comaneci (first perfect 10 in Olympic competition) and Lilia Podkopayeva (one of the most “total package” gymnasts of all time, who was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame last week) Lavinia Milosovici, a highly consistent and successful Romanian from 1992 to 1996 and Russian Svetlana Khorkina, who is known for her longevity, daring, unique skills and high temper, might also deserve honorable mentions.

On about.com, Van Deusen throws out some likely candidates: Valeri Liukin (first ever triple back on floor), Nikolai Andrianov (lifted the Soviet men’s team from obscurity to world dominance during the 1970s) and Mitsuo Tsukahara, the Japanese innovator who introduced the Tsukahara vault and won five Olympic gold medals.

Van Deusen’s vote goes to Belarus’ Vitaly Sherbo, who won a whopping six gold medals at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Hard to argue with that. As a gymnast, Sherbo had it all — great form, great power and an innovativeness that was expressed on all events, particularly vault and still rings. He also had an “it” factor that was almost uncomparable.

And unlike some of the sport’s greats, he didn’t retire immediately after achieving the pinnacle of Olympic success. He returned to training months before the 1996 Olympics after quitting to be with his wife Irina, who lapsed into a coma after a devastating car accident.

His comeback story includes four bronze medals in Atlanta, which seemed reflective of his limited preparation time but not lack of skill.

Vitaly Sherbo, 1994 World Championships, Vault:

The Olympic Effect

January 19, 2008

Vanessa AtlerThe wonderful new blog The Olympic Effect posts detailed analysis on who’s who in the runup to the USA’s selection of its athletes for the 2008 Olympic team.

It also goes way in depth about the potentially harmful media effects on young athletes, spotlighting the stories of Vanessa Atler and Kristie Phillips.

Atler went as far as to refer to uneven bars as ‘the devil’ in her online diary. Atler’s coach, Steve Ryabcki, remained determined to prove that she could complete the skill. His insistence lasted three years and resulted in a nationally-televised explosion at the 1999 Nationals. Even though NBC muted most of Rybaki’s comments, the damage was done.

“Steve cursed me out at the meet and then refused to talk to me for days,” says Atler. “To his credit, it was the only time he ever did anything like that. Unfortunately, I was devastated. I was the perfect student and worked so hard for them for so long, but still got screamed at.”

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