Many of the floor exercise routines at the most recent World Championships were like a breath of fresh air, thanks to the updated Code of Points. In 2009, the number of required skills was reduced from 10 to 8. As such, gymnasts had more time during the 90-second routine to focus on dance elements instead of just trying to pack in as much difficulty as possible.
A case in point: the floor exercise of South Korean gymnast Park Eun Kyung. This routine comes off as a bunch of tumbling skills set to music, shockingly devoid of any meaningful artistry. Even the little motions between tumbling passes show a surprising lack of any sort of interesting movement. But who can blame Park? She simply wanted to achieve as high a score as possible within the confines of the Code of Points.
Park Eun Kyung (KOR), 2008 Swiss Cup
Brazilian Jade Barbosa’s Olympic floor routine also received a lot of criticism for its lack of artistry. Barbosa moves from one tumbling skill to another, and one leap combination to another. She does throw in a few little dance moves in between, though.
Jade Barbosa (BRA), 2007 Pan American Games
Under the revised 2009 Code of Points, gymnasts performed 8 skills and had more time to focus on the entire package. One of my favourite routines of the past decade is Lauren Mitchell’s floor exercise from the 2009 World Championships. The routine makes the most of Mitchell’s best qualities. She may not be the most naturally graceful, but her musical sense and and unique style set her apart from the rest. I wish she had won the gold medal with this routine instead of the silver.
Lauren Mitchell (AUS), 2009 World Championships
It’s been a long time coming to see such a graceful Romanian gymnast, and Ana Porgras’s performances at her first World Championships bode well for her future.
Ana Porgras (ROM), 2009 World Championships
Heading into 2010, I look forward to seeing what the new wave of senior gymnasts has to offer. Judging by the most recent World Championships, I think we can expect to see some fantastic floor finals!