Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Of Gymnastics, Artistry and Second Chances

Today's been a double header, gymnastics article-wise.

Over at JTA, I've written a profile of David Sender, whose first bid to make the Olympic team was derailed by a fluke ankle injury four years ago. Now he's back in training with his sights set on London 2012. I wish I could've included more of his quotes cause he was quite funny and down-to-earth during our chat. You can read the article here.

Over at Deadspin, I have a piece about the difficult discussion that surrounds artistry in the sport of gymnastics, pegged to the retirement of Shawn Johnson, who was never considered the most artistic of gymnasts. This always bugged me, not because I think Johnson was the most artistic of athletes but because the criteria that a lot of gym fans invoked in judging her and others does not seem rooted in what I understand to be true artistry--the quality of movements, connection to the music, to the audience, to their own bodies. To be called artistic in gymnastics nowadays mostly means that you fit some sort of aesthetic ideal--long, lean and flexible. You can read the rest of my spiel here.

The best/hardest part of writing this article? Selecting some of my favorite floor routines from the past 20 years. If I would've let myself, I would've included 10 Soviet gymnasts on the list. Oh god, I love Irina Baraksanova. Tell me which videos you would've added to my list. Also, feel free to tell me how wrong I am in my evaluation of artistry.

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