Top 8: Floor
Posted October 29, 2008on:
In an effort to sum up the quad for myself before the next one really gears up, I’m going to do some Top 8 lists about this quad. Below, a list of my favorite floor routines from this quad.
Perhaps on floor more than on any other apparatus, gymnastics fans have wildly different opinions about what constitutes a “good” floor routine. So in an effort at transparency, here are my criteria, presented in more or less the order of importance:
- Big, powerful tumbling
- Precision and good form on tumbling and dance elements
- Choreography that complements appropriate and engaging music
- Control on tumbling and dance elements
- Lightness, neither tumbling nor choreography appear labored
- Constant movement/no unnecessarily lengthy pauses
- And occasionally, some dramatic back story
Two other caveats:
- Gymnasts can only appear once on the list
- The quad (obviously) begins January 2005 and ends December 2008
- I reserve the right to modify the list and/or add a ninth routine betwee now and December!
II’ll admit immediately that my evaluation of FX routines is subjective. Judging the start value of the routine is a far less interesting debate, obviously. And I’m not using the CoP to make these judgments. I don’t have a huge preference for artistry over other things, and I don’t think that a routine needs to be balletic to be aesthetically pleasing. Some of my favorite routines have music that is not conducive to classical ballet movement, and that’s fine by me. This does not mean that I discount dance, and especially does not mean that I discount dance elements, specifically turns and jumps/leaps/hops. There are some extremely balletic floor routines that I enjoy, but I don’t necessarily prefer them, particularly if the tumbling is mediocre.
So here they are:
9. Ekaterina Kramarenko, 2007 World Championships team final (Stuttgart, GER):
Especially given the vault disaster (in which Kramarenko touched the horse on a false start in her run-up and scored a 0.0000 for the Russian team), I was delighted that Kramarenko competed a great floor routine in these team finals. In addition to being extremely precise on her tumbling passes here, Kramarenko also has good dance, and — this clinched it — <em>smiles</em>. I also like her music choice, also Monette Russo’s floor music in 2005. Nice Tsukahara as the opening pass. Not the highest difficulty. A-score: 5.7. Score: 14.375.
7. Steliana Nistor, 2007 World Championship all-around final (Stuttgart, GER):
Plenty of people will disagree with me on this one, but I generally enjoy Nistor’s floor, and I really loved this routine. First, the music — “Stairway to Heaven”?! That is awesome. Then, there’s the awesome first two passes: her double layout is one of my favorites, and she sticks it cold; then she does a great Tsukahara. Overall, clean routine. This routine was also performed last in the AA competition when Nistor needed a 16.225 to beat Shawn Johnson. She obviously didn’t get that, but she did score high enough to nab the silver over Jade Barbosa. A-score: 6.0. Score: 14.975.
5. Anna Pavlova, 2008 Europeans event final (Clermont-Ferrand, FRA):
As they say, Pavlova is the closest on the Russian team to doing traditional Russian floor, a combination of great dance and tumbling. Of any competitor, I think she is the one who best combines elegance and precision in both tumbling and dance. Her main problem is that her difficulty is a little low; otherwise, she would be pretty hard to beat. In this routine, she nails her mount, a double layout, and comes back with a beautiful whip-to-triple twist. A-score: 5.9. Score: 14.875. Fifth.
5. Cheng Fei, 2006 World Championships event finals (Aarhus, DEN):
Cheng is everything you want on floor: strong tumbling, great dance. I don’t absolutely love her choreography, but I do enjoy it, and she has everything else. In this immensely clean routine, she opens with a double double and ends with a piked Tsukahara. In between, she does a great whip-to-triple twist that is far better than most under-rotated triples we’ve been seeing. A-score: 6.4 Score: 15.875. First place.
4. Jiang Yuyuan, 2008 Olympics team final (Beijing, CHN):
One of the most memorable moments of the team final was the absolutely delightful performance by Jiang on floor, when the outcome had pretty much already been decided and the Chinese girls used their floor routines as a sort of victory celebration. Awesome triple-twist mount followed by a Tsukahara. Cute choreography with clear Chinese influence (without being too cutesy) and great personality shining through. And despite the cute, still very elegant. Seriously, I haven’t seen a gymnast have this much fun on floor in a long time. A-score: 6.3 (?). Score: 15.200.
3. Jade Barbosa, 2008 World Cup (Cottbus, GER):
This routine was just the most precise thing ever, which is often (though not always) true of Barbosa’s floor. I actually think the music suits Barbosa and her tumbling very well. Precise, clean landings on every pass, including the double-layout mount and piked Tsukahara. Even considering the amount of double pikes we’ve seen this quad, I think she lands them better than almost anyone. Almost no form breaks. And I think the whole choreography, music, tumbling combination has a quite intensity that suits her perfectly. A-score: 6.0. Score: 14.625. Second.
2. Shawn Johnson, 2007 Worlds all-around (Stuttgart, GER):
Plenty of people will disagree on this one as well, but I absolutely loved Johnson’s 2007 routine. I thought the music and choreography suited her personality and her gymnastics style perfectly. (I’m among those who don’t understand the 2008 routine.) Honestly, I think I enjoyed this routine almost every time it was performed, but during the all-around final at Worlds, she was really relaxed and enjoying herself. She was also more precise on this routine than she was during event finals. What can I say? Double double, Tsukahara, good twisting (not always true, sometimes she gets a little knee bendy). Love it. A-score: 6.2. Score: 15.425. First in all-around, highest FX score. Also took first in floor EF.
1. Sandra Izbasa, 2008 Olympics event final (Beijing, CHN)
Of course, she’s the Olympic champion on floor, so it’s not shocking that I absolutely adore this floor routine by Izbasa. The music choice is excellent, and I love the choreography. And check out the difficulty: piked Tsukahara, Tsukahara, two-and-a-half twist to full twist, one-and-a-half to one-and-a-half twist, triple twist. Unbelievable. Gorgeous dance, great style, and she looks really into it every time. I had to watch all of her routines a million times to finally settle on her gold-medal winning routine at the Olympics. She stuck her piked Tsukahara and all of her twists cold, it’s unbelievable. A-score: 6.5. Score: 15.650. First.
Here is her (also gold medal-winning) floor in the 2008 European Championships event finals. (I had a hard time deciding between these two anyway!) Score: 15.775.