This was the year that Bronwyn broke her snatch trying to do a split leap in her kitchen whilst making gingerbread men, and Clara nearly did the same huffing a small human out of hers. Marvellous.
Fortunately, some other things happened this year too. Including, though by no means limited to the Olympics. Stoi presents our third annual ‘best of’, and stay tuned for our quad review in the near future.
Best team performance
USA women, Olympics.
Now, I was tempted to go for Romania at Euros. Not because they were better than the US in London- they weren’t- but because they overachieved. Whereas the US did what everyone knew they could once Marta wasn’t allowed to execute them. However, Romania didn’t go 12 for 12. The Americans did, so the Fierce Five it is. Honourable mention for Team Canada in London, who had a superb showing to beat Team GB for the ‘second tier’ title on their own turf.
Best AA performance
The one that gave me the most pleasure is possibly Gabby Douglas at Scam. Her name may not be the one at the top of the official results list, but we all know she was the real champion.
There can only be one winner. McKayla Maroney’s stuck Amanar in the Olympic team final was possibly the best vault in the history of the sport. It certainly knocks everything else this year into a cocked hat, including her own none too shabby efforts domestically.
You know you want to watch it:
I must also give a shoutout to Yamilet Pena, who has survived another year despite her best efforts otherwise. Fair play to her.
Sentimentally I have to go for Tweddle, though I don’t think I’ve ever loved Mustafina more than when she saved us from a He Kexin repeat Olympic title. London prelims. Absolutely marvellous. I’m so glad we got to see her hit the fuck out of this immense set. Outrageously exciting.
Relatively slim pickings this year, unfortunately. Livchikova let us all down at Euros, alas, and neither of the leading Romanians ever quite killed it like they ought to have done. The EF in London was, of course, an atrocity, completing a terrible triology of beam finals at worlds, Euros and now the Olympics. Blech.
So my own favourite was Afanasyeva during the Olympic team final. Beautiful, and Izbasa’s floor music in the background complimented the set perfectly.
Victoria Moors. Boo hiss to her not having made the Olympic final. I also loved Sandra Izbasa. Regular readers will know that Stoi! enjoys a good pop music FX. Izbasa moved beautifully and sold the shit out of hers. A real shame she couldn’t have managed to defend her Olympic title, though arguably it was more dignified of her to commit hara kiri rather than suffer the indignity of a hit set losing to Aly Fucking Raisman.
Ukraine usually supply the winner for this category, but we didn’t see too much of them this year. So instead, we look to Mother Russia. Grishina at the Test Event, Euros team prelims, the Olympic team final and of course Grishina’s entire Olympic experience are all strong contenders (London is really not a lucky venue for poor Nastia).
Or, if you prefer the gentlemen, Team USA were pretty piss poor when the Olympic team medals were on the line. And Japan weren’t much better- indeed, Uchimura’s performance throughout the Games was his equivalent of a meltdown.
But, in an unusual approach, rather than a performance my winner is an actual event: the European beam final. Only three clean routines. Beam as an event has always been Europe’s weakest- the continent boasts the best bars workers in the world, despite He Kexin’s undeserved Olympic silver, and the majority of the best floor routines too (note we said best, not highest scoring). But beam is always a problem, because Western Europeans can never cope with it and it presents an all too tantalising opportunity for Mother Russia to tank. And so it was at Euros.
Most useless coach
Usual favourite Marta Karolyi was prevented from following her preferred selection method this year, so the title is wide open. Her countryman John Geddert makes a stunning case for himself, though. Sending his athlete to London with a beam routine containing virtually no actual connections, and condemning anyone who suggested this wasn’t the greatest idea as a conspiracy theorist. Well, we all saw how that ended. I was particuarly impressed by his decision to thank Jordyn for improving his resume so, just before she mounted the podium for her final Olympic set. Another choice vindicated. What an ignorant arsehole. We have a winner.
Also, an honourable mention for whoever was responsible for Uchimura turning up in London looking exhausted and half starved. I would include Mother Russia’s post-Olympic shit, but at least they had the sense to save it for after the gongs were handed out.
Virtually anything involving Aly Raisman really. Just pick a routine, any routine.
There were a number of contenders for this category, and interestingly they mainly involved Chinese athletes getting their arses handed to them. It’s not that we’re haters, it’s just that the women’s programme is built on cheating and their men have been dominant on high bar for years despite being boring as fuck. Well, the forces of good have had the last laugh.
Jade ‘tears’ Barbosa also got what was coming to her when the Brazilian federation refused to give in to her demands and dropped her for London. We can’t help feeling a bit sorry for her though- apparently her father is an utter nightmare and he was behind all the unreasonableness on her side. So perhaps it’s karma more for him than her.
Even this, however, couldn’t match what happened with the Chinese. And it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving programme.
The women had a piss poor showing at the Olympics, after having bored their way to the bare minimum and ridden their luck all quad. This is what happens when you cheat as lavishly as they did in the run up to Beijing. It’s like the squirrel who doesn’t save any nuts for the winter. They ate all their 1993-94 crop long before it was legal, so this time round they were left with the dregs: gymnasts who didn’t make the cut for Beijing, and those who did but have spiralled downwards since. Deng Linlin’s beam was alright, but that was about it. Serves them right.
And of course, the icing on the cake was the Gruesome Twosome of Zou ‘boring’ Kai and Zhang ‘shit’ Chenglong finally getting their arses handed to them in the high bar final. The delicious Epke Zonderland finally came good with a barnstormer of a set, and let’s not forget the also exciting Fabien Hambuchen taking a valiant and well deserved silver. Perfect, and it felt even better for having had to wait so long. It’s been five years since we had a major high bar champion that wasn’t utter trash. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another five.
Even in the absence of Ariella Kaeslin’s self designed monstrosities, 2012 saw stunning competition for the title. After much soul searching, we had opted for sub categories: fit and pattern.
Vanessa Ferrari set the standard for the poorest fit right at the start of the year during the Test Event, and it was clear that she would be the one to beat. Our girls from Deva stepped up, though. Regular readers will remember that Izbasa wore a virtual thong in a training video in April. Alas, she didn’t repeat the outfit in competition, and therefore the title goes once again to Queen Cata, who we hope is enjoying banging Tommy Ramos. We would.
Pattern is more Bronwyn’s area than mine, so perhaps she can fill us in at a later date. For the moment, we’ll leave this category vacant.
Most sorely missed in London
Obviously, we both missed our girl Nabz dearly. Not least because, in retrospect, she’d have been a better choice for the team than Grishina. She’d have scored about 0.4 higher than her on bars and Komova would’ve done floor in TFs- all in all, the team would’ve scored roughly 3 points higher. Not that it would have been enough anyway.
Additionally, we both have another sad absence we wish to highlight.
Clara: Danusia Francis. Regular readers of the blog will be aware of how hopping mad I was when she was kept out of the GB lineup. I said it was a mistake, and that no good could come of a beam lineup that would have to include two of Tunney, Cairns and Pinches. I was right. Not that I take any credit for this insight though, it was obvious to anyone who isn’t a complete fuckwit. Had Danusia been chosen, GB could and in all probability would have taken 5th place, and wouldn’t have been left pretending that failing to top the second tier of teams on home turf somehow represents a success.
Bronners is MIA at the moment, but I know in my heart that she would wish me to mention Livchikova in this category.
Thank you to our readers for keeping with us during a rather patchy last few months. It appears that we aren’t going to be blogging as much as we used to, but we’ll try and drop by now and then. While there are still Russians with delectable bars and dirty Amanars, judges who think anything Aly Raisman does is close to acceptable, and Ukraine continue to drag out their total collapse, Stoi! will still be needed. Love to you all.