Wednesday 9 January 2013

Floor Routines of the Year, 1976- 2012

 Simply, the one routine per year that stands out from all the rest.

2012- Eythora Thorsdottir, Netherlands, Junior Euros
Yes I've mentioned her quite a lot. Anyway, here she is on floor in all her glory- perfect precise form, beautiful graceful dance. I can't find myself to care that her difficulty is low. Just a masterpeice. And yes it does beat the various Olympic routines, for me. Her main contenders were Aliya Mustafina, Mai Murakami and Larisa Iordache.

2011- Mariya Livchikova, Ukraine, World Cup- Ghent
Just gorgeous. That double front is truly exceptional. Love her flair and form.

2010- Anna Myzdrikova, Russia, World Championships
A perfect blend of difficult and perfect tumbling with gorgeous choreography and lines. This girl should have umpteen world titles. Can you believe this got an execution score of 8.425?? Hysterical! I feel like Tim during McKayla's TF vault- 'where was the error??'

2009- Ana Porgras, Romania, World Championships
Known for their dynamic and powerful floor workers, Ana rewound the decades and injected fabulous grace and beauty into this routine. A much warranted break from some of the other routines at this championships, and a joy to watch. If you squint, it could be Dobre.

2008- Chellsie Memmel, USA, Olympic Trials
Chellsie performs a giant FU to everyone who thought she could not get back into her prime. An absolutely stunning and exhausting performance. There's something so satisfying about that planted double pike. BAM. What a routine.

2007- Lia Parolari, Italy, World Championships
Just amazing, what a great dancer. A pity her difficulty would always count her out.

2006- Pang PanPan, China, World Championships
This often gets a mention, but she still flies under the radar. A (quite rare) Adi Pop piece of perfection, completely suited to the wonderful dancer that is PPP. Fabulous twister also.

2005- Fan Ye, China, Chinese National Games
It was really hard not to pick Cheng Fei again. Fan (she of the PERFECT 2003 beam) obviously has a lot less difficulty, but there is a lot of beauty and lovely poses in this. Gorgeous. And her smile!

2004 - Cheng Fei, China, Olympics
This really is the ultimate floor, as her difficulty level is so so high but she never sacrifices form or choreography. It's more endearing and charming than her later floor routines, while still having such a high standard of performance. A gymnast twisting with her legs absolutely not budging? The idea! Basically, the last word in floor routines.

2003- Daiane Dos Santos, Brazil, World Championships
Daiane was already 20 here and not even at her springiest. I chose this routine for its hit landings, emotion of the gold medal win, debut of the piked double arabian on the world stage, and general fun of her dance. Nobody beats her for tumbling.

2002- Oksana Chusovitina, Uzbekistan, American Cup
Check out the split-leg double layout punchfront! Oksana gets this for being a BAMF. And for not having much competition, as her choreography really never was great.

2001- Sabina Cojocar, Romania, World Championships
Sabina was all of the best traits of Romanian gymnasts combined. Sadly she was not the most consistent, and a liver disease worsened by inappropriate treatment forced her early retirement. This is a tour de force of a routine though.

2000- Ludivine Furnon, France, Europeans
If you can look past the prime candidate for ugliest leotard ever, this is truly sensational. The ease of her DLO- punchfront, amazing. A great dancer who really should have more titles. For this one she beat Andrea Raducan, Elena Produnova, Viktoria Karpenko, Elena Zamolodchikova and Simona Amanar! Probably the strongest floor lineup ever, and it was only European. Sadly she was injured after this.

1999- Inga Skarupa, Ukraine, World Championships
Beautiful form on her tumbling, and she rises above other similar exercises for the sheer uniqueness of her second pass. Criminally underscored, I could watch this over and over again.

1998- Vanessa Atler, USA, US Nationals
That first pass. Sigh. Vanessa is much lamented over, and it's probably right to say she was and is overrated- after all, Maloney could match her on floor and she was not unbeatable elsewhere. It's the total waste and unfulfillment of her huge potential that really gets people- and there's no denying that Vanessa HAD the potential to be a fabulous gymnast, and one of USA's most decorated. Here she is at her best on floor, with that amazing opening pass and some gorgeous expression.

1997- Liubov Sheremeta, Ukraine, World Championships
 Cutesy, but teriffic. A great floor worker.

1996- Elvire Teza, France, Budget Invitational
I know- one of the deepest fields of talents present in Atlanta and I pick a small meet and a gymnast renowned for other apparatus and also for sloppy form. But this really is a great routine, with very expressive dance. I love how much she sells this routine. So add floor to the events she shined at.

1995- Mo Huilan, China, World Championships
Definitely one of the cheesiest routines of all time (though the Karolyi's creations would give it a good run for its money), but no routine has ever worked so perfectly with the theme of its music. Sheer brilliance, not to mention fantastic tumbling and form throughout.

1994- Annika Reeder, England, Commonwealth Games
The extremely springy Annika out Shannon Millered Shannon Miller here. She wins due to the liveliness of her routine, and how well it flows together. She was just 14 here.

1993- Dominique Dawes, USA, US Nationals
Dominique to me was far more enjoyable to watch on floor in her early days. Here she is wearing stained glass windows, and generally being awesome. Love the fact the back-to-back is the first pass. Just great.

1992- Tatiana Lysenko, Unified Team, Olympics
Yes she messes up the first pass a bit, but it doesn't bother me. (As in doesn't ruin the routine, the fact that it knocked her out of a medal she would have fully deserved sucks.) Fabulously choreographed routine, great sky-high double back in her back to back. Love.

1991-Cristina Bontas, Romania, Worlds
EDIT- Natalia Kalinina has been dumped, as I realised the routine was from 1990. Bahh. Anyway, Cristina now takes the 1991 crown. This routine is delightful first for the flawless and incredibly difficult tumbling- behold the best full twisting DLO ever performed- and also for the charming dance and USA pandering music, nicely done! Cristina suffered from the closure of Deva, had injuries, and was swiftly overshadowed by the coming of Milo and Gogean, but this routine was a return to form, and what a performance it was.

1990- Elena Abrashitova, USSR, USSR Nationals
Another who faded when the Soviets were at their deepest. Elena also had a killer beam routine. I picked her over a huge amount of competition for the originality in this routine. Great sense of dance and expression present.

1989- Tatiana Groshkova, USSR, Chunichi Cup
One of the obvious ones, for how much I love her. It's not just the first pass (LOOK AT IT) that warrants its inclusion, it's the beautiful dance, choreography and poses throughout. It's hard to beat Dudnik and Strazheva but Tatiana does it effortlessly.

1988- Deliana Vodenitcharova, Bulgaria, Olympics
Yes the music could have been better (Ireland is bursting with great and lively tunes and she picks a dirge). But the performance! Magnificent, and wonderful tumbling. Sadly she was extremely underscored for this. The triple full is just amazing- they were still rare enough at the time, and hers just flies out of the sky and it looks like a double it's so easy for her.

1987- Aurelia Dobre, Romania, World Championships
Aurelia had a strong field to beat here- Silivas, Shushunova, Voinea...there is something so elegant and floaty about her that even in a competition bursting with elegance, she is on a pedestal. Wonderful. 

1986- Aleftina Priakhina, USSR, Chunichi Cup
And right back to the Soviets. This one is here mainly for the extremely impressive- and first ever- double double opener. She fecked up the landing, but who cares- so did Silivas and Priakhina looks too light for it really. The surprising queen of difficulty was lovely and floaty in this routine, love watching it.

1985- Oksana Omelianchik, USSR, World Championships
One of the iconic ones- for good reason. When she really lets herself go into the Birdie music after the first pass it's thrilling to watch a master at work. And of course, the awe-inspiring second pass, which was the first back-to-back..or the first back-to-back that we know of. The difficulty of the dive roll at the end should not be underestimated. Oksana was also a heavy favourite for the 87 routine of the year, where she was as expressive as ever and did a triple full punchfront. Love her, so sad she was a shadow of herself in 88.

1984- Olga Mostepanova, USSR, Friendship Games
Her extension makes this routine for me. I think she is the queen of it. The would-be-84-AA-champion is magnificent here. And yes, I know it's only one third of her routine but it still outclasses the rest. And it earned a perfect 10 so it must have continued in the same vein of loveliness and precision.

1983- Olga Bicherova, USSR, World Championships
One of the oft cited balletic masterpieces. Stunning

1982- Natalia Ilienko, USSR
Ilienko was more exciting to watch than some of her compatriots at this time. Perfect blend of everything in this routine, don't want it to end.

1981- Maria Filatova, USSR, World Championships
Once again, a beautiful masterpiece in action.

1980- Maria Davidova, USSR, Olympics
The AA champion who was very lucky that Mukhina was paralysed and Comaneci messed up was amazing on floor. I do hate seeing roll-outs, especially so soon after, but I do appreciate their insane difficulty all the same. 

1979- Elena Naimushina, USSR, World Championships

Ahh, one word- perfect. Love her lines, even the way she does a whip. Should be much more well known than she is.

1978- Elena Mukhina, USSR, World Championships

The world debut of the full-in! Few dominate competitions like Mukhina did here. A true all-arounder, her floor was equally as exciting as her bars. 

(1977 is impossible, there were competitions but the videos are hard to find and the ones that exist have very loud commentary and music that can't be heard at I'll abandon it)

1976- Teodora Ungureanu, Romania, Olympics

The overshadowed jewel, Teodora managed to be stunning on floor at a time when hideous (but endearing in retrospect) routines were being handed out to her teammates like candy. Glorious! This music has been used quite a few times, but all pale in comparison. SO underrated. She's first in this video.

So out of my 36 stunning floor workers, 12 are Soviet (including Lysenko), 5 are Romanian, 3 are American, 3 are Ukrainian, 4 are Chinese, 2 French, 1 German, 1 Russian, 1 Italian, 1 Briton, 1 Dutch, 1 Bulgarian and 1 Brazillian. Despite the obvious Soviet-heavy (well...duhh!) lineup, I think that's a pretty good mix. My criteria is really just my favourite routine of that year. It may not be far and away the best routine of the year, or have the most difficult tumbling. They just have something that really blows me away. Feel free to rage over my choices! I will say 1996, 1993, 2005 and 2007 were the hardest to pinpoint.EDIT- 1991 changed from Natalia Kalinina's 1990 floor which I somehow thought was 1991, to Cristina Bontas' floor from actual 1991.

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