Friday, January 4, 2013

Top Ten: Floor

All right, here we go. Last event.

This actually will be a Love Russia-fest. However, that has to do with the fact that the Russians have been training ballet as long as they have been doing gymnastics, and with the addition of the wonderful Russian choreographers, it produces beautiful floor routines with difficult and gorgeous choreography.
When it comes to floor, the Russians (and those from ex-Soviet countries) tend to be the class of the field. They are admired worldwide for their floors, and have publicly bashed the United States for their awful floor routines.

Top 10:

1. Ksenia Afanasyeva, 2011 Worlds EF/2012 Olympic QF

Quite possibly one of the greatest moments in gymnastics since the breakup of the Soviet Union. STUNNNINNNGGGG. The choreography is so detailed, I can't even tell you how hard it is. Thank God the judges finally got it right and crowned the lovely Afan World Floor Champion. I am glad that she managed to defeat Clubfoot the Raisman on floor at least once in her career.

I couldn't pick between her 2011 and her 2012 routine, so I just went with both of them. One thing I love about Ksenia is that unlike the lovely Grishina, her routines aren't purely ballet. The choreographers have taken her ballet training, and developed a unique style for her that utilizes ballet, but is so gorgeous and completely different from everybody else.

2. Anastasia Grishina, 2012 Jesolo/2012 European TF

I put two different versions here, mainly to show how she actually finishes the routine. The Jesolo routine was hit better and had more gorgeous choreography, but the music finished before she did. I put the European routine in just to show how she finishes the routine when she's on time with the music.
Anyways, this is SO gorgeous, and one of the best routines of the quad, if not in a long time. Her ballet training is so evident here, and she's so dainty and light on her feet. She really just needs to clean up that Y-spin, and maybe up her difficulty a bit, but the talent and beauty is all there. I really hope she continues, even after the London disaster, because with her talent and grace, and proper coaching, she could win the 2013 European AND World AA titles. Based on the current mess at Round Lake and her inconsistency, it most likely won't happen, but if only this beauty won major titles.

3. Yulia Belokobylskaya, 2011 Worlds TF

One of the prettiest dancers on the Russian team, which is saying something when your teammates include Afanasyeva, Grishina, Mustafina, Komova, Kharenkova, and about 50 others. I love everything about this routine. The way she dances into her opening pose, the way she dances to coverup a step on the second pass, and of course the gorgeoussss choreography after the 3rd pass. She had no chance of being useful to the Olympic team, but she got her moment to shine at the 2011 Worlds. If only EF spots were given out based on the whole package, not on start values.

4. Ana Porgras, 2010 Worlds TF/2011 Worlds AA

(Both of these were so gorgeous that I couldn't decide on one to put it, so I put both of them.)
Why, Ana, why? Why did you and your beauty have to retire 8 months before the Olympics? Everyone wanted to see you there, and to see you win the Olympic beam title. The Olympics were not the same without you. Ana is so stunningly beautiful, and I don't think she even has as much ballet training as the Russians. Her grace and artistry seem to be purely natural, and her beam and floor are so pretty to watch. She is truly missed.

5. Mariya Livchikova, 2011 Ghent World Cup QF/2011 Euros QF

My actual favorite version of the routine is here:
Unfortunately, embedding was disabled on the video.
I loveeee Mariya. If the CoP was wrote correctly, people like Mariya would be in major floor finals, not people like Clubfoot. Her music is so gorgeous (Leeloo's Tune), and the choreography fits it perfectly. Mariya, however, is not much of a tumbler, and in today's CoP, dancers are nowhere to be found in the rankings, which is sadly the current sad state of the sport.

6. Maria Kharenkova, 2012 European EF

It took me quite awhile to figure out this very cool and unique music was - I saw people suggesting French, Arabic, and Cirque - it turns out that this is a piece from Cirque du Soleil. Similar to Afanasyeva, the choreographers take her ballet training, and create something unique and very cool with it. I really love this music, the choreography, and the whole routine. The fact that she won despite a step out of bounds shows that just mayyyybeee this sport is heading in the right direction. The judges recognized her beauty and finesse and rewarded that, while recognizing that the step out of bounds is really just a small error.

7. Ekaterina Baturina, 2012 European QF/2012 Pacific Rim Championships EF

(Two slightly different versions of the same routine.)
While she's not one of the two Russian junior stars (Kharenkova and Shelgunova), this beauty is on the way up. One thing I notice with this routine is that the skills seem quite easy for her (it's a fairly easy skill set), which tells me that the Russian coaches are most likely pacing her, instead of forcing top difficulty on her before she even turns senior (Valeri Liukin, maybe you should take some notes). I feel like that strategy is going to help in the long run.
Anyways, this floor routine is another Russian masterpiece, and I fully expect this girl to be in the mix during the next quad. That ending pose is just gorgeous.
Side note: in the Euros video, notice the Russian seniors in the stands, walking her through the whole routine. And when I say walking through, I mean yelling DAVAI DAVAI DAVAI.....STOI! as many times as is humanly possible.

8. Aliya Mustafina, 2010 Worlds QF/2012 Olympic EF

Sheer brilliance out there. Each landing was near perfectly controlled, and the triple turn is a work of art. Most people finish that turn by stepping forward as they finish spinning, but she shows that she has perfect control by finishing the spin, but remaining on her toe to show control before she continues. That is how a triple turn is SUPPOSED TO BE DONE.

Fabulous. Some people don't like this routine, but I love the dramatics and choreography. It's also evident just how hard she worked to get the majority of her skills back after that near-career ending injury. The joy on her face at seeing her score, and then realizing that she had won the bronze medal was wonderful to see.

9. Anna Dementyeva, 2010 Worlds TF

She's such a little cutie :) This routine is cute, artistic, pretty, and just perfect for little Demy. I still can't wrap my head around the fact that little Demy is an adult now. Feels like yesterday that she was 15, and the youngest gymnast, at the 2010 worlds, and now she's 18(!). I feel like many people remember Demy at the 2010 worlds for helping headcase bars along with cohort Nabieva, but she turned in two wonderful routines on beam and floor. She's won a few very minor competitions this fall, so I sincerely hope that we continue to see more of this little delight.

10. Daria Elizarova, 2011 Worlds QF

You know it's a sad day when a gymnast of this talent has to go compete for another country just to get competitive opportunities. It also tells you about the depth of talent in Russia. For those of you who don't know, Daria was originally on the 2008 Russian Olympic team, and then Ludmilla Ezhova-Grebenkova was subbed in, as they wanted her experience more. At some point in 2010, Elizarova went to compete for Uzbekistan, where she obviously immediately became the top gymnast there. Why they sent Galiulina to the Olympics this year over Elizarova, when Galiulina was caught for doping and didn't even compete, still baffles me. Anyways, I still love this routine - the choreography shows her Russian training with plenty of intricate moves. I love how she sort of tricks you into thinking that it's time for another tumbling pass, but then does more dance instead. I hope she continues on.

Low 10:

1. Alexandra Raisman, 2012 Olympic Trials Day 1

This routine disgusts me each and every time she does it, and the fact that she is Olympic floor champion over Afanasyeva, Mustafina, Komova, Grishina, Ponor, Izbasa, etc, is just horrifying for the sport. If compulsories existed, Aly Raisman would have never even been an elite, as she'd be slaughtered in compulsories. I wasn't even a big fan of Ponor's routine, but Ponor should have won over Raisman, and most fans who appreciate gymnastics and its history agree. Not to mention the fact that judges never seem to apply their own rules - Aly should be getting massive artistry deductions each and every time she competes this. I mean, she can't even do a roundoff without bent knees and flexed feet.
However, the thing that disgusted me most about this routine was actually something outside of Aly's control. She very clearly LANDS that first pass out of bounds, yet only .1 was taken off. That's just wrong.

I want those judges sitting RIGHT THERE to look at this, and then attempt to tell me that she only stepped out with one foot. That is a screenshot as Aly lands. BOTH FEET ARE OUT. Obviously all the judging at Trials was a complete joke, but this is just ridiculous. Anyways, moving on.

2. Gabby Douglas, 2012 Olympic AA

Another US routine that just disgusts me. "Memories" and "We No Speak Americano" are club music. I've danced my ass off to them in clubs. That means that they are not suitable for ARTISTIC gymnastics. I don't care if you're not a natural dancer. Jordyn isn't. That doesn't mean that she uses laughable club music, she plays to her strengths. Like I said before, Alexandrov has publicly made fun of the Americans for their floor routines (and rightfully so), and this piece of shit doesn't help. What is she doing after the 2nd pass???? Gabby, WHAT IS THIS????? No. Just no.

3. Rebecca Bross, 2010 Nationals Day 2

Each American routine just gets worse. Considering that she comes from the same gym as people like Hollie Vise AND she has a Russian coach, this is just ridiculous. I actually sort of liked her 2009 routine - Natural Treasure is kind of cool music. Again, I see that she is not a natural dancer, but from what I know, WOGA does ballet training as part of their training. Not to mention, if you are not a dancer, do 4 less intricate tumbling passes, instead of 3, and torturing us with your awful "dance." Of course, nothing will ever be as bad as that thing that Carly Patterson called a floor routine. Why does she take a lunch break after the second pass and just stand there? And WHY does she hold that split on the floor for like, a year? Also, I'm all for being focused and determined (I think that's a good thing), but smile or at least have more than one facial expression during choreography! Like Maroney says, floor is a chance to perform and show your personality, so don't walk around the mat like it's a chore. Enjoy floor routines and choreography, even if you're not Mostepanova.

4. Elizabeth Price, 2012 Nationals Day 1

Wow. Way to shit on the memory of Afanasyeva's World title winning floor. Yes, this is a slightly different cut than the one that Afanasyeva used. Question #1: what is she doing after the second pass? Questions #2: why does she like, stop and stare at the judges for a year after the 3rd pass? Just so you know Elizabeth, there's a reason Tumbling is it's own sport. It's so that we don't have to see shit like the stuff you call a floor routine. I'm not going to deny her acrobatic talents. That's why she should seriously consider Tumbling. Unless you can dance better than the reigning World floor champion, DO NOT use her music, and then say "OMG, I love my choreography!" Just no. I sincerely hope Afanasyeva has never seen this. And finally, STOP WEARING PINK!!!!!!!

5. Daiane Dos Santos, Unknown 2011 Competition

It's been nearly 10 years since that undeserved World title, and things don't seem to change do they? She still tumbles ridiculously uncontrolled passes (you'd think by now she'd have properly learned them), and the hideous "choreography." I.e., she looks like an animal on speed. Funny how she was suspended at some point this quad for doping? After all these years, she can't even point her toes on those awful tumbling passes. Daiane, significant accomplishments are about a decade in the past. I think it's time to retire.....

6. Elizabeth Tweddle, 2011 Worlds TF

Again, if you are not a dancer, do FOUR tumbling passes! And what is that weird arm stuff she does right before each tumbling pass? Ughhhh. I cannot believe she won the 2009 World title. It's just an injustice to the sport. Then again, Raisman won the Olympic title, so apparently, apart from the 2011 World title and 2012 European title, floor golds are now given out to the shittiest dancers. The former Soviets must be crying over the way this sport has gone.

7. Vanessa Ferrari, 2012 Olympic EF

I can't believe she actually thinks she deserved the bronze over Mustafina. Ummm, yeah NO. For those of you who didn't realize, this is a different cut of Anastasia Sidorova's music (it's called Angel and Devil). Mustafina can actually dance, and finallyyyy the judges recognized that and gave her the bronze over Ferrari's higher start value. BTW Vanessa, there are deductions in the CoP for music. When you have 5 music cuts between two tumbling passes (2nd and 3rd), there are deductions for that. When she lands the 3rd pass, there's about a 2 second cut that sounds like Hijo de la Luna (Mustafina's 2010 music). The music is all over the place, the choreography is awful, and the leo is fugly as fuck. Mustafina won that bronze fair and square. This is just awful.

8. Kyla Ross, 2012 Visa Championships Day 1

For someone with such pretty lines and such a balletic look, this routine is a real letdown. She has so much talent and potential to do something far more intricate and pretty. DO NOT use Phantom of the Opera unless you can fully bring out the drama in it. Her choreography is her either bending her arms and looking to the side, or weird stuff on the floor. The vocals in the middle are not good. And what is that weird jump after the 3rd pass? I really hope she gets something new and much better for this year.

9. Huang Qiushuang, 2010 Worlds QF

Everyone calls her lovely, but I don't see what all the fuss is about. Her choreography is either her standing with bent knees while waving her arms around, or constant hip circling/thrusting. I can see the talent and potential to be pretty on floor. It's all there, she just needs to stop waving her arms like Bross and stop thrusting her hips out like a stripper. If she took this music and had it choreographed by the Russian choreographers, it would actually be nice.

10. Lauren Mitchell, 2010 Worlds EF

Someone please explain to me why this won the 2010 World title. Moreover, why did this win over a slightly imperfect Mustafina? Like her beam routine, it's so....awkward. It doesn't flow, every arm movement seems disconnected from the next one. The music is also so generic. The fact that there was only one nice major (World/Olympic) floor champion this quad is just plain sad. Mustafina was a little sluggish in this final, it being her 16 competitive routine of the championships, but she still deserved to win this. I don't understand how, as Aunt Joyce puts it, "Awkward Aussie" won.

All right that's it for top 10 of the quad!

Look out for some opinion pieces on skating/gymnastics to come soon. Hope everyone's enjoying 2013 so far!

- IllusionSpin

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