Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category

“Next on Uneven Bars, Pauletta Huntescu!”

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Just for a bit of fun, let’s look back at gymnastics comedian Paul Hunt. He was at his competitive peak in the early 1970s, but took to a different kind of performance in the 1980s: creating parodies of women’s gymnastics. He performed in exhibitions under such names as Pauletta Huntescu (ROM) and Paulette Huntinova (URS).

The following beam routine is set to the floor exercise music of Oksana Omelianchik, who was present at the 1988 USA vs USSR meet. Paulette Huntinova is also wearing the yellow leotard of her Soviet team.

Look carefully in the audience and you’ll notice stars Natalia Laschenova, Oksana Omelianchik and Mary Lou Retton enjoying the comedy.

Raise the Bar

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Vault isn’t the only culprit when it comes to equipment problems (see “The Faulty Vault”). There have been quite a few incidents on uneven bars in which a cable has snapped during a routine and the entire apparatus has collapsed. Fortunately in all three cases I found, no one was injured…just a little bit shaken up!

Ludmilla Tourischeva’s fall is perhaps the best known case of such an occurrence. During the 1975 World Cup, the bars fell just as the Soviet gymnast completed her routine. It didn’t seem to faze her in the slightest, and she ended up winning the event.

Natalie Foley, an NCAA gymnast who competed for Stanford, pulled the cables loose as she prepared

for a Shaposhnikova a few years ago.

An equipment failure happened again just last year, this time to Naoual Ouazzani Chahdi, a junior gymnast competing in the 2008 Dutch Trials for the upcoming European Championships.

When the bars are set properly, however, this event can be beautiful one. Feast your eyes upon the next video, and watch how the apparatus has changed throughout the years. The uneven bars started out as men’s parallel bars, with one bar set higher than the other. Note how the wooden oval-shaped bars extend beyond the posts! As years go by, the bars become rounder and more flexible, and they are set further apart as the gymnasts’ skill levels increase. The elements performed on the event have changed drastically, and some of the composition from past decades make me chuckle (0:20).

Uneven Bars Developments (1950s to 2005)

No mention of the uneven bars would be complete without a shout out to the most decorated champion of all time, “The Queen,” Russian Svetlana Khorkina. She managed to win two uneven bars titles at the Olympic Games, five at the World Championships and six at the European Championships.

What are your favourite skills or routines of all time? Please post a Comment!

The National Acrobats of China

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Last week I witnessed a performance of The National Acrobats of China with my sister, Gymbyte. It was a fantastic show, and I could tell by their technique that many of the performers were former gymnasts. I wonder if there are any well-known names among them.

One of my favourite acts was the Hoop Diving, where the guys did all sorts of flips through hoops that appeared to be at least 8 feet off the ground. Most of the acrobats went through the hoop on the pre-flight, but the last guy went through on the post-flight. One gymnast even did a full-twisting salto through the hoop! I also loved the Icarian Acrobatics, where the gymnasts flipped on each others’ feet, and the Grand Acrobatics & Martial Arts act which included swords and a huge red flag.

The ladies demonstrated tremendous talent as well, especially the one who continued to pedal around the stage while 10 other acrobats hung off her bicycle! There was another performer who simultaneously balanced decorative ornaments on both feet, both hands and her head, all whilst moving into various contortion poses. Many of the poses performed by the ladies reminded me of Sports Acro, and as always, I loved the one-handed handstand act which always makes me think of Jackie Bender!

Many of the acts were not so much acrobatics but equally impressive skills, such as balancing spinning plates on sticks, juggling straw hats, bouncing large spools on a string, and balancing huge Chinese vases on the head. Such control is required to master these acts!

Check out a video of highlights from their show:

The National Acrobats of China