Best and worst, 1976-now
Videos of 8 routines
My ideas on who’s great, and who made idiots out of themselves
It’s not easy compiling “Best” and “Worst” lists. Nobody’s going to agree with them, so you have to not care and go ahead and compile anyway. I will say that none of these are heavily analyzed – they’re just based on how I see it at the time.
And in the Best list below, I’ve really put my favorites more than the routines I think are actually technically the best.
In following the old saying, I’ll save the best for last. Here’s the worst.
Alicia Sacramone, 2008 Olympics Team Finals
In truth there have been worse beam routines (Alexandra Marinescu in the Event Finals in Atlanta, et. al.), but I selected this one for two reasons: 1. Because it brought the U.S. to its collective, dysfunctional knees, and 2. Because it reminded me of how much I dislike Alicia’s gymnastics.
Elise Ray, 2000 Olympics All-Around first vault
Granted the vault was set too low, but other gymnasts managed to get through it unscathed. I chose this one because it just looks funny as hell.
Shawn Johnson, 2008 Olympic Trials
Shawn is/was the most un-artistic gymnast I’ve ever seen. People complain that great gymnasts such as Simona Amanar were “robotic” and “stiff.” Shawn makes Simona look like a prima ballerina, plus Simona wasn’t fat.
Vanessa Atler, 1998 U.S. Nationals Preliminaries
As most gym fans know, I could have used any of a number of Vanessa’s bars routines here. She was historically horrible on bars, and I attribute that to shit coaching, not to Vanessa’s inability to perform skills.
Kim Gwang Suk, 1991 World Championships Team Finals
In this routine, 9-year-old Kim shows exactly why she’s the most entertaining bars worker of them all. At four feet, four inches tall and 60 pounds, she had the perfect rubber-band body for this kind of exercise. Plus, because she’d just lost her front baby teeth, she encountered less wind-resistance every time she opened her mouth.
Shannon Miller, 1992 Olympics All-Around, first vault
This clip includes both vaults, but it’s the first one that’s magic. I haven’t seen every single vault ever performed in the history of gymnastics, but I’ve seen enough to be able to safely say this is the best. Period.
Oksana Omelianchik, 1985 European Championships Event Finals
Anybody who doesn’t fall in love with Oksana during this routine has serious psychological problems. It was everything a floor exercise is supposed to be: artistic, difficult, charming, innovative and entertaining. Too bad gymnastics is down the toilet today and we’ll never see another spectacle like this.
Nadia Comaneci, 1976 Olympics
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve watched this routine, and I have yet to spot a single instance during it where Nadia gives an indication that she realizes she’s on a four-inch-wide piece of wood. She works the beam like it’s flat ground. Her sense of gravity and her ability to move gracefully are both astounding.
So did you agree with all of my choices? Probably not. Good. Then please send your choices and include links in the comment box so we can look at them.
Posted on February 14, 2011, in Elite Gymnastics and tagged Alicia Sacramone, balance beam, floor exercise, gymnastics routines, Nadia Comaneci, Shannon Miller, Shawn Johnson, Simona Amanar, uneven bars, vault. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.