The format for Beam and Floor will change a bit now. Instead of doing a total of 10 routines here (Top 5 and Low 5), because I love and hate so many beams from this quad, I'm going to do Top 10 and Low 10.
Sorry if you feel this turns into a "Love Russia, Hate USA" post, but that's kind of how I feel about the current state of gymnastics (despite the fact that I am American).
1. Ana Porgras, 2010 Worlds AA
(I would have put her EF winning routine here, but that had a couple more wobbles than this, so I decided to show the best of her that I could find.) Was there any competition here? The universally loved 2010 World Beam Champion is one of very few who is actually pretty up there. Unlike the Chinese who take a year to set up for a fucking A-rated split leap, Ana never seems to stop moving. She has so many little flourishes that add so much flair to the routine, like the split pose at the beginning and the back leg kick she does at about 1:07 right before her leap series. The only pauses are before her acro series and her dismount. Otherwise, she moves in and out of each skill, and makes it look like one flowing series of movements, instead of skill, pause, pose, skill, pause, pose, etc. It's purrrdyyyy.
2. Mariya Livchikova, 2012 Brno Grand Prix
FINALLY. Our favorite Ukie headcase finally put it all together this year, showing off a gorgeous and innovative beam set, complete with a stuck cold dismount. This routine is just so fucking different and cool. Who does a front-aerial + punch front combo, or a (legit) front handspring + front pike combo? To top it off, she's also gorgeously elegant and smooth up there. Why oh why did she have to waste her time training a DTY at Worlds last year that blew out her knee, cost her a shot at going to the test event, and therefore a shot at the Olympics? If she had made the Olympics and done this routine in QF, this most likely would have made finals. She was missed at the Olympics this year. Hopefully we will see much more of here in the years to come. She is special.
3. Anastasia Grishina, 2012 Jesolo
Probably the best routine she did all year. Given that she changed her routine composition practically every week, every time she competed beam this year, the routine was different. This is my favorite composition, and the best she did it. Grishina was really at her best on beam and floor all year at Jesolo. Her form is impeccable, she has awesome combos like Onodi + Illusion, and then she causes us all to lose sleep as she wobbles while standing up from her mount. Her roundoff+layout pass is now a consistent beauty (when did you think you would ever call anything in Grishina's beam routine consistent?!), instead of the nail-biter it used to be. If only she didn't have a complete meltdown at the Olympics this year. I hope we see much more of her, and I also sincerely hope her new coaches can breathe some semblance of consistency into her, because she is a tremendous talent who on her good day, could win just about everything.
4. Anna Dementyeva, 2011 European EF
One of the only routines where she isn't wobbling all over the place. I think with Mustafina's injury, and the coronation of Dementyeva (who as I'm writing this, is currently celebrating her EIGHTEENTH birthday!) as European champion, it gave her a certain confidence that was clearly seen in all the event finals. She didn't have the start values to medal in bars or floor, but she looked calm, confident, and happy in all the event finals, instead of the usual umpteenth inconsistent Russian that she is. The Illusion, switch ring, RO-layout, etc (basically EVERYTHING, including the usually underrotated dismount) were all the best I've ever seen her do. Many predicted that she would win this after QF, when Mustafina was still healthy, and after Porgras somehow didn't qualify in. I still can't comprehend why she wasn't taken over Paseka for the Olympics. While beam is Dementyeva's only reliable event, she could have potentially contributed on bars with a 4th QF bars score (the floor spots were all taken), and I'm not sure Paseka's vault was ever worth much more than a confident Demy beam routine. Paseka did eventually prove her worth, by winning the vault bronze over no competition.
5. Elisabetta Preziosa, 2009 Brindisi Grand Prix/2011 European EF
This is one of the most underappreciated routines of the quad. It also won her the 2011 European bronze. I included her 2009 routine (the Grand Prix routine was better than her 2009 World EF routine), because of the gorgeous mount, which she annoyingly took out. Why does everyone have to have boring mounts? One of the reasons she was so special in 2009 was that gorgeous mount. Her flexibility is a breath of fresh air, compared to some other top gymnasts in the world (cough, Raisman, cough).
6. Maria Kharenkova, 2012 Junior European EF
There's something about Maria that's so special, but I can't put a finger on it. Her flexibility, extensions, and finesse certainly don't hurt. She reminds me quite a lot of Aliya Mustafina, gymnastics and timeline wise. Their gymnastics is quite similar, and they've both become phenoms in the Olympic year, when they were both 2 years too young to compete (Maria will turn senior in 2014). I looovveeee that back Y-spin at 1:01. Who the hell apart from the always-innovative Russians still does cool shit like that? It's gorgeous, and she always does it so well, with perfect control. As long as she can stay healthy, something that the Russian coaches aren't too good at doing with their athletes, she will be a big star once she turns senior. Stupid age rules.
7. Viktoria Komova, 2012 Olympic AA
Excuse the shitty quality, but this was literally the only routine that I could find of her AA routine, or one where she's not wobbling around like a Tourette's patient. However, when she's NOT wobbling around on full turns, falling, or taking out cool things like her bhs-layout-layout, this routine is stunning to watch. Unfortunately, there are next to no videos of her QF routines, so I can't really say that this is her best routine. Her lines after she hit puberty at the beginning of this year became even more stunning than they already were. The talent is all there, she just needs to stop half-assing all her beam routines. Vika, your bars are stunning. Now get down to work on beam. You've already fucked up that last three consecutive major beam finals (2011 Worlds, 2012 Europeans, and 2012 Olympics), as well as screwed up countless routines with more wobbles than I care to count. We want to see you win AT LEAST one major beam title.
8. Elena Amelia Racea, 2011 Worlds EF
People forget that Amelia Racea is actually the 2010 European beam champion (something that obviously would not have happened had Porgras not injured herself). She also would not have made the 2011 beam EF had Porgras not fucked up in prelims. In a way, Racea actually owes Porgras a lot. Anyways, Racea is quite nice in her own right. She has very pretty lines, and a very smooth look on beam. A lot of gymnasts could take a lesson or two from her on how to do a PROPER switch half. Her leaps are high and pretty. I love the split leap-full turn combo. Very simple, yes, but she fulfills two requirements (dance series that includes a leap at 180, and a full turn on one foot) in one combo. A real shame she retired, because I love her look on beam.
9. Ksenia Afanasyeva, 2012 Russian Championships EF
Easily one of the best routines in terms of choreography and carriage. She has such a regal, gorgeous look up there. The skill choice isn't overwhelmingly unique, but the aerial roundoff (first skill) is done by just about no one these days. She actually does more choreography than just a few poses and arm waves, and everything is nicely woven together. The tour jete 1/1 is purrddyyy She didn't connect the onodi and side somie in this routine, but she does do it here:
I sincerely hope that the shaky floor EF at the Olympics isn't the last we ever see of this STUNNING gymnast.
10. Vasiliki Millousi, 2012 European QF
Ahhhh, such a nice breath of fresh air. Vasiliki actually understands the term, ARTISTIC. She has gorgeous, nearly rhythmic-like, flexibility, and beautiful choreography that connects each skill, and transitions seamlessly. She has legit low-to-beam choreo that's also gorgeous. She moves like liquid, her moves are so gorgeous and flowing.
1. Alexandra Raisman, 2011 Worlds EF
As our dear friend Aunt Joyce puts it, "Aly's [routine] was extremely disgusting and offensive to anyone who ever took up anything related to the world of dance or stretching." There's so much bad here. Her choreo literally consists of about 3 poses - that includes her "low to beam work", i.e. she gets down, puts her chest on the beam, and gets back up. Her leaps hit about 140 degrees, the bhs-layout to 2 feet has flexed feet and leg separations galore, and don't get me started on the switch half. She literally does a switch leap, then as she comes down, she twists about 1/4 of a turn, and passes it off as a switch half. The fact that she won the Olympic bronze medal is a travesty to the name of the sport - ARTISTIC gymnastics.
2. Elizabeth Price, 2012 Stuttgart World Cup
Just as disgusting as Aly. Her choreo, instead of a few poses, is just a bunch of arm waving in between ugly dance skills and flexed foot bhs-layouts, passed off as choreography. On all of her split leaps, she is very clearly not even coming close to 180 degrees. The 180 degree rule is a compulsory rule in beam routines, and it's ridiculous that gymnasts, especially the fugly Americans (minus a few), can't even hit 180 degrees in a split. The Russians have been able to hit 180 before they were even born. I will cry myself to sleep if this piece of shit helps her win the World AA title next year.
3. Deng Linlin, 2012 Olympic EF
Yawn. This is exactly why someone like Ksenia Afanasyeva should have won the beam final. Deng's routine is completely devoid of any choreography whatsoever, and is literally a bunch of skills with never-ending pauses in between. Ksenia, on the other hand, had difficulty, originality, beautiful choreography and carriage, and was overall gorgeous. This is just dull and it is quite sad that this is the Olympic beam champion.
4. Rebecca Bross, 2010 Worlds QF
I chose this routine to highlight the fact that Bross, before 2011, was actually capable of doing the double Arabian dismount, and doing it well. Other than that, I don't like Bross on beam. Her choreo is literally her standing still, waving her arms around, then doing a bunch of skills, then repeat. Her feet aren't completely flexed (Raisman wrote the book on flexed feet), but they're not completely pointed either. She also doesn't have many combos. It's just a bunch of single skills, interspersed with arm waving.
5. Yulia Inshina, 2011 World EF
Yawn. Inshina bores me to death. Not to mention the ugliest sheep jump I've ever seen, which is quite surprising, given that she's Russian. The only positive thing I can say is that she has pretty toe point. The routine is ridiculously generic, and an overall snoozefest.
6. Yana Demyanchuk, 2010 Worlds EF
Very odd that a Ukrainian would be in a Low 10 of beam, considering how nice the Ukrainians usually are. Yet Yana is a very different case. She has all the extension Aly Raisman, which really sticks out when you're as short as she is. The fugly metallic/high neck leo does absolutely nothing to complement her body. The switch half has a BENT leg, which is 20 times worse than a switch half with flexed feet. Speaking of flexed feet, that turn is awful as hell. I'm all for originality, but it looks like she's incapable of POINTING her toe, which makes the turn look like a mistake, as opposed to her attempting something different. The sheep jump is just as bad as Inshina's if not worse. I will say that the RO-back full is quite nicely done by her. Then of course, she Ukied the dismount.
7. Hannah Whelan, 2012 European EF
Let's get one thing straight. Hannah Whelan is the European bronze medalist for one reason, and one reason ONLY. Anastasia Grishina (and the rest of the non-medalists) headcased the biggest splatfest in the history of the European Championships. It's a testament to Grishina's beauty and Whelan's fug that Grishina was less than .3 behind Whelan, and with a fall. Whelan should be getting execution deductions on just about everything. She did, yes, emulate the Romanians by hitting when others fall, but that doesn't mean she hit pretty.
8. Vanessa Ferrari, 2011 European AA
The thing I hate most about this routine is how generic it is. There's no even remotely cool skills here. She's not even capable of doing the mount properly. She does 1/4 turn, pause, waver, and repeats two more times. And what is that awful squat she does at :57? Is she emulating a dog? And it's all done in a horrifyingly ugly and slutty leo.
9. Jordyn Wieber, 2012 American Cup
I actually liked Jordyn on beam in 2011. She was clean and steady. Then 2012 came; the puberty monster bit, and she wavered all over the beam all season. Maybe she was trying to be more like Viktoria Komova. The fhs-back full-bhs combo is the biggest joke of a combo I've ever seen. It's the pure definition of code-whoring. She never even remotely connected it all year. I do hope that this fighter of an athlete, although I'm not her biggest fan, does well for at least part of the quad. Her getting pushed out of the AA by Aly was the biggest joke ever, considering that Wieber's a significantly better all-arounder than Raisman. Even my ignorant sister can vouch for that. Raisman was held up on all events, which is how the judges managed to have her push Wieber out.
10. Lauren Mitchell, 2010 Worlds EF
This routine is just awkward. She doesn't really bend her arms much, and the choreo is just....awkward. I just don't like this routine. I do like the triple turn that she never actually completes, given that it's SOMETHING DIFFERENT, but she literally always takes a giant step or hop on the double pike dismount, and she has a heavy feel on the beam. Her form also isn't the greatest. I do like that Australia is a country that's starting to compete with the top countries, but this just doesn't have the polish of the top countries.
Happy New Year everyone!
Top Ten floor will come as soon as I can finish it, and keep your eyes out for a couple interesting posts after that!