Now that the year is coming to a close (yes, I do realize that the World Cup Final is coming up, but to be perfectly honest, now that my Anna Pavlova is out, this competition is as appealing to me as tofu. No offense to tofu-lovers), let’s reminisce, shall we? Here’s a list of the most memorable (and not so memorable) gymnastics moments of 2008.
the funnest gymnast: Jiang Yuyuan. Not only are her smile and cute facial expressions absolutely contagious, but her floor music makes me want to get up and dance. You know that part where she opens her arms and turns around in circles (it always seems to me like she’s stumbling a little bit, but I find it so endearing that I don’t mind)? Well, it looks like so much fun that I wish I could get on the podium and join her. She’s such a joy to watch!
solid as a rock: this is a toss up between Shawn Johnson and Ksenia Semenova, but I think Ksenia might have the edge over Shawn on this one. Why? Even if we ignore Shawn’s botched Amanar at the American Cup, the fact that Ksenia is Russian and incredibly consistent is just astounding. I mean, my lovely Russians never hit when it counts (Sydney team finals, anyone? Actually, make that any team final!).
supermodel: Nastia Liukin, and not only because she’s pretty. She just looks so tall and slender compared to the other pixies out there, it’s kind of hard not to picture her on the runway. Of course, in real life, Nastia is actually quite short!
don’t anger the gymnastics gods: I’ve decided that yelling whatever out before you vault is a gymnastics curse (it probably makes the gymnastics gods’ ears bleed, and they are not afraid to punish you for it!). Remember Khorkina doing this in Sydney? Yup, she fell (granted, the vault was set at the wrong height). Then, eight years later, Cheng Fei comes along and yells in the vault finals, hoping to defy the gods’ wishes. They weren’t too gracious with her, for she also went splaaaaaaaaat.
I believe I can flyyyyyy: I don’t care what age He Kexin is. Hell, she could be five or thirty, for all I care. Her Li Ya combination is fantastic. It’s so dynamic, but at the same time, it’s almost as if she’s suspended in air. Holy Jesus!
music to my ears: I couldn’t miss this superlative. So who has the best floor music this year? Why, Anna Pavlova, of course (I’m sure everybody’s rolling their eyes and going “DOI!”)! Seriously, though, Maksim’s Exodus is gorgeous (as is the original version) and so majestic, just like Miss Anna herself!
no, thanks, I’ve already chewed some bubblegum: the United States has had some hideous leotard choices in the past, but what’s with the bright bright bright pink this year? I know Nastia is a fan, but I’m sure she’ll be all right if they tone it down just a little.
pretty in pink: and speaking of which, I loved to see Nastia victorious in all of her pink glory. Regardless of how BRIGHT that thing-disguised-as-a-leotard was, it seemed quite fitting at the time.
can I get your designer’s number? The other teams could use Russia’s advance on leotard-selection. They are always the most elegant and professional looking team out there (even when their performances aren’t). The leotard they wore in prelims was particularly pretty.
you’re so cute, I can’t help but like you: I am not much of a fan of Shawn Johnson’s gymnastics (although I must admit, some of her skills are insanely cool!). But she shows such great sportsmanship and attitude that I can’t help but be a fan. You go, girl!
you’re so cute, I can’t help but like you, version II: Sandra Izbasa!
stick that landing, dammit! Obviously, this award goes to Nastia Liukin, for the most stuck landings at the Olympic Games. However, there are two honorable mentions: Sandra Izbasa’s floor routine in event finals and Anna Pavlova’s floor in the all around competition. Wow!
funkiest salute: Dasha Joura, of course. But has anyone checked out Deng Linlin’s? It’s so…weird (!), like she can’t raise her arms all the way up. But I like her.
you make me want to poke my eyes out: it’s really frustrating when gymnasts have (mostly) lovely form and then mess it up BIG TIME when it comes to a single element, i.e. Nastia Liukin’s double fronts (ew ew ew) and Bridget Sloan’s Tkatchevs (point those toes, woman!).
whoa, she’s an all arounder? look who’s no longer only a bars and beam specialist: Ksenia Semenova! It’s unbelievable how much some girls can improve in a year.
the best rotation in eight years: the last floor rotation at the Beijing all around finals was seriously my favorite in a long, long time. Consecutive stuck routines (minus Jiang Yuyuan) from JYY, Yang Yilin, Semenova, Pavlova, Johnson, and Liukin? Aah. Heavenly.
so glad you made it! Koko Tsurumi is so cute (and lovely to watch), I was thrilled to see her in the beam final. Unfortunately, she didn’t deliver. I wish she had!
five and (possibly?) counting: Oksana Chusovitina certainly wins the all-time prize for longevity. Too bad she hurt her ankle, but I’m positive that she’ll find a way to keep going. Nothing slows her down! I was glad to finally see her medal in Beijing.