Archive for ussr

a little something to brighten your Wednesday night.

Posted in going down the memory lane, just for fun with tags , , on January 21, 2009 by debster03

Ah, the Soviet gymnastics machine. Many argue that making it in the USSR was even harder than winning a world championship or Olympic gold. I think I agree.

We’ve all, of course, heard of the Soviet greats: Svetlana Boginskaya, Olga Mostepanova, Oksana Omelianchik, Olga Korbut, Yelena Shushunova, Tatiana Lysenko, and Lyudmila Tourischeva, to name a few (too few). However, in addition to these marvelous athletes and artists (yes, artists!), there are hundreds upon hundreds of gymnasts that never even truly had the opportunity to wow the international audiences and win fame and recognition.

Among these gymnasts is Tatiana Ignatova.

Now, we don’t see a performance like that nowadays, do we? Not even from the very, very best or those we call “artistic.” I’ve mourned the day that truly innovative floor choreography ceased to exist. What a crying shame. Thanks a lot, FIG.

Here’s another of my “obscure” favorites, Yekatarina Vandisheva:

It kills me that these two never made it big. They could’ve been great.



ten things I miss the most

Posted in lists with tags , , , , , , on October 20, 2008 by debster03

1. Svetlana Khorkina

…if only for the drama she brought to competitions. She certainly made for some interesting television. When she showed up, you could be sure that there would be death stares, plenty of tears, a lot of yelling, or an impromptu change in leotard involved. Three well-known Queen Sveta quotes: “Russia eez in bad condition,” “A diva eez magical,” and, my personal favorite, “I vant to vin az badly az I vant to mozzer my own child.”

2. the 2000 Chinese women’s team

I liked this year’s team and was very happy they won (a team gold for China was long overdue), but nothing beats the 2000 team because they were a team. It looked like they were genuinely having fun out there, maybe because they didn’t feel pressure to go after the gold (Russia felt it and bombed it). I don’t think I’ve seen team spirit like theirs since. Hit or miss, they were clearly having a blast. And how cute was it when NBC showed shots of them praying during the men’s team final? That’s what I call a team!

3. back-to-back tumbling

A big thanks to Oksana Omelianchik for this fabulous invention. It was just so exciting to watch. “Is she done yet? Nope, she’s not! She keeps going! Keeps flipping! And she flips once more!”

Of course, what made it even better was that, as soon as the gymnast was finished with the eternal tumbling pass, she would break out into some fantastic choreography, such as ’80s-style breakdancing. Oh, those were the days.

4. the Soviets

Politically, I’m glad the Soviet Union is gone. Gymnastically, not so much. Up until 1992, it was as if, as soon as the Soviets entered the arena, they were already saying, “Vee are da Soviets! Don’t screw vit uz, bitches!” In all seriousness, though, I’m pretty sure that everyone agrees that gymnastics has only gone downhill since the breakup of the USSR. Their way of combining artistry and difficulty was a work of art. I am particularly fond of their 1985 and 1989 World Championship teams. Isn’t it sad to think that we’ll never have more Dudniks, Omelianchiks, or Kalininas? The closest thing we have today is Pavlova, but she doesn’t even come close to matching their difficulty (respective to their time periods, of course).

5. Produnova’s funky eyebrow

Usually, I would call shaving your eyebrow into little sections a serious crime of fashion (or grooming?), but since it’s Produ, all is forgiven. She did look pretty intense. In an “I will kick your asses” kind of way. According to my pal Al Tratwig (and please don’t quote him on this, as he is practically proven to be an idiot), she did it to make her look like a warrior. Looked more like a crazy Russian mafia badass if you ask me.

6. death stares

I think Boginskaya had the death stare thing down better than anyone (if looks could kill, Kim Zmeskal might not be around today), even THE QUEEN. We hardly see that anymore. Gymnasts are too nice now, apparently (not saying that I don’t love the sportsmanship we see at competitions nowadays. It’s cute). Thank God we’ve still got Nastia Liukin.

7. cool stuff on beam

Shaposhnikova’s one-armed handstand. Li Li’s back spin. Jackie Bender’s back roll to headstand. Hollie Vise’s scale. The list could go on and on forever. Why can’t gymnasts do cool little skills like that anymore, even if they aren’t worth anything? Oh, I know why. They’re too busy training front aerials.

8. Compulsories

…just because gymnasts can’t seem to learn how to dance on their own. Notable exceptions: the Russians (Pavlova!), Liukin, Jiang Yuyuan, and Mattie Larson.

9. stuck landings

Remember when stuck landings actually mattered? When they made all the difference between a gold medal and no medal at all? I think Nastia Liukin should recieve a pat on the back for all of her nailed landings in Beijing, because apparently she’s the only gymnast that knows how to stick it.

10. the perfect 10

I bet you saw that one coming, huh?