Sunday, September 4, 2011

Favorite Things: Obscure Soviet Edition

With a hurricane, power outage, funeral to attend to and a badly sprained ankle, it has been a tough week.  If I've ever needed that endorphin release over some obscure Soviet goddesses, now is the time.

We really need to appreciate that the USSR displayed some of their brightest stars annually in a country with a senile president who wouldn't even acknowledge the AIDS virus in a time when Geza Poszar's choreography reigned supreme.  Talk about an annual juxtaposition!

Not all of these gymnasts are truly 'obscure' to long-time fans, but the routines and gymnasts are a breath of fresh air to the numerous younger readers whose reference points are Jordyn Wieber and Shawn Johnson.

It is as though the spirit of Valorie Kondos invaded Round Lake...

We've all seen her performance at the Kraft Invitational, but US soil was truly unworthy of this choreography.  They let Kristie Phillips win the meet the next year.

Having competed during the span of two boycotted Olympics, Natalia Ilienko is somewhat forgotten and overshadowed by the bigger all-around stars of the '70s, '80s and '90s.  Her rendition of this compulsory floor routine is unmatched.  This is what Natalya Marakova is capable of producing when she isn't forced to work with Rebecca Bross and Allison Taylor all day.

The ethereal Svetlana Grozdova.

One of the American Cup's greatest victims.

A one-hit-wonder like no other.

One of the greatest alternates on the Soviet National Team.

Serious tumbling for 1988.


  1. Oh no! Is your ankle okay? How did that happen? Hope you feel better soon =(

  2. the first girl puts Nastia to shame. whiting gymnasts today have true flexibly, grace and line. they jut seems to move through a series of disjointed poses now.

  3. Heard you went to PV for your ankle- HUMC is where it's at! The (male) nurses there are cute and flirty (and very competent)!

  4. question that just popped in to my mind..

    do you think 2nd soviet "b" teams could have won silver over rom in 88 and 92???

  5. A hammer thrower named Tatiana Lysenko won the gold medal at the Track and Field World Championships.

  6. I'm sorry to hear about your ankle!! Get well soon!

  7. The first routine started kinda odd..she just launched into her first pass without any dance. Strange to see.

  8. That Ignatova floor ex was one of the most soulful floors ever in the sport. Her body tension in most of the shapes she made showed purpose and 'in-the-moment' concentration. It's up there with Shushunova '88 (much more depth than Silivas' routine) and Mitova.

  9. I miss gymnastics like this -- it just doesn't exist anymore. Most of today's gymnasts are just so beastly and unwatchable. I would rather watch Illienko's compulsory exercise than any FX from today (with the exception of maybe Pavlova and Afanasyeva)