The Gymnastics Factory: The Rise and Fall of the Karolyi Ranch

Coco

Rotating while Russian!
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Americans, under Martha's leadership, responded to the post - Athens Olympics changes in the COP better than other countries.


Martha & Co prioritized 1) vault and 2) big tricks over connected elements.

They prioritized vault because it was the easiest event to reliably put up a big score. Vault is dangerous enough that gymnasts rarely through vaults they can't do. And for whatever reason, international judges are very forgiving on E scores, and more forgiving the more difficult the vault.

They also prioritized big tricks instead of connected elements. This meant gymnasts needed to be bigger and stronger.

If you compare size and weight of the 2008 and 2012 gymnasts for each country with that country's 2004 team, you'll see other countries stuck with the same image of a gymnast as being small and <100 lbs. American girls were incredibly fit, but they were noticeably bigger than gymnasts from other countries. Contrary to conventional gymnastics wisdom, this size 'advantage' was truly a significant advantage.

This larger size may have hurt them on UB a bit, or maybe it was the tendency to not overly rely on connected elements. Then there is WOGA's (Liukin's gym) avoidance of the Shaposhnikova, which never made any sense to me.

It seems this is one event where the US hasn't been on the same wavelength with the types of composition the International Judges want to see.

Bars and Beam remain the easiest events to fall on, so the risk tolerance on these events was always quite low for Team USA under Martha.
 

VGThuy

Well-Known Member
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32,705
Americans, under Martha's leadership, responded to the post - Athens Olympics changes in the COP better than other countries.


Martha & Co prioritized 1) vault and 2) big tricks over connected elements.

They prioritized vault because it was the easiest event to reliably put up a big score. Vault is dangerous enough that gymnasts rarely through vaults they can't do. And for whatever reason, international judges are very forgiving on E scores, and more forgiving the more difficult the vault.

They also prioritized big tricks instead of connected elements. This meant gymnasts needed to be bigger and stronger.

If you compare size and weight of the 2008 and 2012 gymnasts for each country with that country's 2004 team, you'll see other countries stuck with the same image of a gymnast as being small and <100 lbs. American girls were incredibly fit, but they were noticeably bigger than gymnasts from other countries. Contrary to conventional gymnastics wisdom, this size 'advantage' was truly a significant advantage.

This larger size may have hurt them on UB a bit, or maybe it was the tendency to not overly rely on connected elements. Then there is WOGA's (Liukin's gym) avoidance of the Shaposhnikova, which never made any sense to me.

It seems this is one event where the US hasn't been on the same wavelength with the types of composition the International Judges want to see.

Bars and Beam remain the easiest events to fall on, so the risk tolerance on these events was always quite low for Team USA under Martha.
That's a great breakdown. I also don't blame them for the change from connected elements to big tricks. It was those connected elements and dance combinations that killed the US's gold medal chances in Athens.
 

Weve3

Well-Known Member
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3,134
Americans, under Martha's leadership, responded to the post - Athens Olympics changes in the COP better than other countries.


Martha & Co prioritized 1) vault and 2) big tricks over connected elements.

They prioritized vault because it was the easiest event to reliably put up a big score. Vault is dangerous enough that gymnasts rarely through vaults they can't do. And for whatever reason, international judges are very forgiving on E scores, and more forgiving the more difficult the vault.

They also prioritized big tricks instead of connected elements. This meant gymnasts needed to be bigger and stronger.

If you compare size and weight of the 2008 and 2012 gymnasts for each country with that country's 2004 team, you'll see other countries stuck with the same image of a gymnast as being small and <100 lbs. American girls were incredibly fit, but they were noticeably bigger than gymnasts from other countries. Contrary to conventional gymnastics wisdom, this size 'advantage' was truly a significant advantage.

This larger size may have hurt them on UB a bit, or maybe it was the tendency to not overly rely on connected elements. Then there is WOGA's (Liukin's gym) avoidance of the Shaposhnikova, which never made any sense to me.

It seems this is one event where the US hasn't been on the same wavelength with the types of composition the International Judges want to see.

Bars and Beam remain the easiest events to fall on, so the risk tolerance on these events was always quite low for Team USA under Martha.
Big tricks gymnastics have, well, I don't want to say they've ruined the sport, necessarily, but I have never been a fan of the ta-da moments. Gymnastics are so much more than that, but it's been the reliable one-trick pony USAG has promoted for years.
 

VGThuy

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I prefer it over what was dominating Worlds from 1993-2001, I’ll say that much. Other than some key athletes, we didn’t even get big tricks with the lack of dance and artistry...just basic code working and even worse bars work. Only the Soviets managed to meld big tricks, innovation, and actual dance and fluidity and let’s face it, they didn’t get there by respecting the rights of children.
 

sonsofanarchy

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That was the era of Gina Gogean:

 

Weve3

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I prefer it over what was dominating Worlds from 1993-2001, I’ll say that much. Other than some key athletes, we didn’t even get big tricks with the lack of dance and artistry...just basic code working and even worse bars work. Only the Soviets managed to meld big tricks, innovation, and actual dance and fluidity and let’s face it, they didn’t get there by respecting the rights of children.
True. It's rare nowadays to see a gymnast who could be categorized as having the complete gymnastics package, much like figure skating, where the skater usually tilts toward being technically or artistically predisposed. For the gymnasts, it's typically big tricks or a moderate amount of artistry, not necessarily both. I miss innovation, actual dance, and fluidity. For the record, I do respect the big skills gymnast.
 

VGThuy

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You would think that 1997 beam gold would be the straw that broke the camel’s back but then we got 1999 Worlds...
 

Loves_Shizuka

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Poor Gina Gogean. She seems to be the go-to gymnast to "highlight" from that era :rofl:

I actually liked her more than Milosovici tbh...

For my taste, I much prefer the 93-00 quads to the 01-08 quads. I really lost interest in the sport from Sydney to Beijing.
 
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VGThuy

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I much preferred the Chinese choreography from the 2000 Oympics. I don't know why they stopped using those Chinese ballet choreographers and even started trying to use Adi Pop and her horrific choreo. Of course, no choreographer can help what gymnastics has become these days. Although, I might be in the minority because I remember casual fans during the 2016 Olympics laughing at the Dutch FXs for being overly artistic (which I found funny for a figure skating forum) and I thought they were the only ones bringing artistry.

Poor Gina Gogean. She seems to be the go-to gymnast to "highlight" from that era :rofl:

I actually liked her more than Milosovici tbh...

For my taste, I much prefer the 93-00 quads to the 01-08 quads. I really lost interest in the sport from Sydney to Beijing.
I think Olaru was worse. Out of Milo, Gogean, Amanar, Marinescu, and Raducan from that period, she's the one who came away with the World AA title. I won't talk about Raducan winning and then losing the 2000 Olympic AA gold due to some stupid drug ban that was retroactively taken off the list and that stupid vault situation. Some great AAers were taken down for a Romanian sweep. I call Sydney the Olympics where only Team Prelims and Event Finals happened.
 
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Loves_Shizuka

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I much preferred the Chinese choreography from the 2000 Oympics.
Liu Xuan and Yang Yun had particularly beautiful FX's IIRC.

I think Olaru was worse. Out of Milo, Gogean, Amanar, Marinescu, and Raducan from that period, she's the one who came away with the World AA title.
Even Olaru looked bored of her own gymnastics.

Pretty amazing to think that Milo, Gogean, Amanar & Raducan, not to mention Comaneci, Silivas, Szabo and Iordache never won a World AA title... yet Olaru did.
 

her grace

standing with Mariah
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I loved Gogean. Doesn’t she have around 20 world and Olympic medals? Girl was amazingly consistent. :respec:

And no way should Kui’s wobbly beam routine beat Gogean’s precise performance.
 

VGThuy

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I just realized that Gogean 1997 Worlds beam video had been ratioed. More dislikes than likes from viewers. One good thing about the scoring system is that D-scores happened and gymnasts were rewarded for the difficulty they did.
 

danafan

Canadian ladies über
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And no way should Kui’s wobbly beam routine beat Gogean’s precise performance.
The FIG WTC would appear to disagree with you. In their report following the 1997 worlds they wrote (emphasis mine):

"Judgment of individuals in C-1, C-IV, II and III can be assessed as good to very good, except in C-III, the Beam B-panel did not adequately reward the most dynamic, artistic and combination rich exercise." The report was written by Jackie Fie (WTC president from the USA) and Maria Simionescu (2nd vice president from Romania).
 

VGThuy

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And Gogean had as many minor checks as Kui Yuan Yuan had and that was without having an internal acro series. She did stick that landing tho as per usual.
 

her grace

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The judges agreed with me.

I think it’s a philosophical point, and one that the FIG has resolved in favor of dynamism and difficulty over cleanliness in the modern code.
 

Weve3

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Gogean was amazingly consistent and reliable, but this is the very definition of automated routines, workhorse stuff - and dare I say, forgettable? This particular time wasn't exactly a barn-burner for the sport, imo.
 

FiveRinger

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Gogean was amazingly consistent and reliable, but this is the very definition of automated routines, workhorse stuff - and dare I say, forgettable? This particular time wasn't exactly a barn-burner for the sport, imo.
Agreed. With the exception of Raducan and Marinescu, the Romanians were as exciting as melba toast between 1993 and 2000. Olaru had to be the most unremarkable world champion ever. Anyone who predicted that should be playing numbers. Amanar was just as snooze-worthy. I can’t even blame them. All of the Romanians did the same boring routines. They all had the same wretched floor choreography set to horrible music, each song and cut worse than the last. And we all know they had no say about any of that. If they could force Silivas (different era, same rules apply) into that cringeworthy haircut in 1988, you know these girls had no chance of choosing routines, music or anything else. I feel like they were hampered by that, and they could have won so much more had they not been so stifled. It’s a shame.
 

sonsofanarchy

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And Gogean had as many minor checks as Kui Yuan Yuan had and that was without having an internal acro series. She did stick that landing tho as per usual.
Khorkina also had absolutely no balance checks unlike both, stuck her landing, and also had much more difficulty, originality, and style than Gogean. Maybe one of the only times ever you could make a case Khorkina was possibly robbed. I still would have had Kui winning over both, but there isn't even a possible argument I see for Gogean beating Khorkina, even if you tried to make a long stretch one of how Gina could beat Kui, so I don't see how anyone can argue of Gogean winning since there is no metric she could have beaten Khorkina that final. I would have also had Teza on the podium and Gogean no medal.
 

sonsofanarchy

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Even Olaru looked bored of her own gymnastics.
I think I saw both Gogean and Olaru doze off for a split second during their own beam routines once. Yes I think even they were robed by their own gymnastics at times.

I agree with who said that the coach sets the routines largely. Gogean in 92 was doing some cool tricks on bars and beam but once she became a real contender after her strong rookie showing in Barcelona it was cookie cutter and minimal everything, with strange yet forgettable choreography and music on beam and floor to top it off.
 

Hedwig

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I love me some Milo- leave her alone :swoon:
:lol:
The gymnast from that area I loved most is Lilia though.
I actually love that area generally. Nowadays the big tricks and the scoring system over 10 goes over my head and I miss the excitement of 10 people who could win. Now its at most 2-3 and we know it before...
 

VGThuy

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I love me some Milo- leave her alone :swoon:
:lol:
The gymnast from that area I loved most is Lilia though.
I actually love that area generally. Nowadays the big tricks and the scoring system over 10 goes over my head and I miss the excitement of 10 people who could win. Now its at most 2-3 and we know it before...
I think that's what made 2017 Worlds AA so exciting. With Biles not competing and even Smith out due to injury, it was an absolute free-for-all.

From the 90s going into 1996, Mo Huilan was my favorite gymnast. Lilia was my favorite in compulsories.
 

Loves_Shizuka

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Mo Huilan is my favourite 90's gymnast, and my 2nd favourite gymnast ever after Boginskaya.:glamor:
 
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her grace

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Gogean was amazingly consistent and reliable, but this is the very definition of automated routines, workhorse stuff - and dare I say, forgettable? This particular time wasn't exactly a barn-burner for the sport, imo.
And yet here we are remembering and talking about her 20 years later. ;)

I think the 1992 and 1996 quad produced some very interesting gymnastics with a nice variety of styles plus a larger group of athletes who were legitimate medal contenders. IMO, the sport is much less interesting now.
 

canbelto

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The thing is the gymnasts who pushed the difficulty envelope back then like Tatiana Gutsu or Mo Huilan were dinged for either sloppy form or inconsistency.
 

FiveRinger

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The thing is the gymnasts who pushed the difficulty envelope back then like Tatiana Gutsu or Mo Huilan were dinged for either sloppy form or inconsistency.
I don’t remember Mo having any form issues. Gutsu had knees and elbows all over the place, which was just one of the reasons I preferred Lysenko to her. She was highly underrated, never got enough credit for her beautiful and difficult skills.
 

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