Sunday, July 11, 2010

History Lesson: 1978 Worlds AA Finals

Due to the tragedy of her life, I almost feel guilty saying it. Then I think, she might as well be appreciated. I have a confession. I'm obsessed with Elena Mukhina. Obsessed. I love her. I love the difficulty, the dance, the toe point, the badass Sovietness and the jutzpah to dethrone Queen Nadia. Elena in '78 was the epitome of a World All-Around Champion.

'78 Worlds Nadia was fat, crash-dieted, suicidal, disinterested, forced-back-into-competition Nadia. Did she drink the detergent or didn't she? Was it shampoo? The stories of Nadia's rush back to form have differed as much as her suicidal tales. Was it 20 pounds? 40? 160? I can't even imagine what she looked like at the meet in East Germany where she sported the double chin.

Emilia Eberle was beaten into being the new starlet of the Romanian Team. Fantastic on some events but a ghastly dancer, one feels the wrath of Bela with every mistake she makes.

Natalia Shaposhnikova was the innovative new girl who displayed dramatic poses and ghastly acrobatic form. Her beam layouts are on par with the legendary Chelle Stack.

Rhonda Schwandt, Kathy Johnson and Marcia Frederick were the American hopes, but they still couldn't mange to make it through four events.

Nelli Kim is the dark, mysterious contender. In a Disney film, she would surely be the villain. While they may not be physical evidence of it, you can bet your ass that she broke Mukhina's leg and infected Nadia's wrist to keep them out of Fort Worth.


  1. Wow, the adjustment of Kathy Johnson's floor score due to crowd anger was interesting. Granted it was absurd that she scored lower than Nadia, but how due the judges confer and justify that.

  2. This will date me, but this was the first gymnastics competition I actually watched (vague memories of Nadia in 1976 don't count). After seeing what Kathy Johnson could do I made my mom sign me up for lessons.

  3. I think mukhina is one of the most underrated gymnasts in history, obviously due to her horrible accident. she pushed the difficulty across all four events, and did it with style. She's consistently overlooked when it comes to discussing great gymnasts. i feel like she realistically could have beaten davydova in moscow. such a tragedy.

  4. Awesome! I watched the entire thing. How in the world did Mukhina manage a full in on that floor? Was it an early spring floor, or did it not even have springs??

    I also loved the Russian front flip. That's the style of front flip I learned in the 80's.