Nothing like the end of the year to weigh the best and brightest in women’s floor exercise. Here’s my totally subjective list of the top 30 from 2012:
#30: Viktoria Komova, RUS. This routine, which I didn’t like very much, makes the list solely because Komova absolutely nailed it during Olympic all-around finals. Thank heavens she’s still training, and we might yet see decent choreography from her on floor.
#29: Vasiliki Millousi, GRE. Her tumbling is not elite, but she schools the younger generation with her musical interpretation and style. A sublime example of liquidity in movement.
#28: Diana Bulimar, ROM. Of all the Romanians this year, Bulimar was the most consistent performer and has been the least recognized for it. She richly deserved to compete in beam finals at the Olympics. Her floor routine was great for the tumbling and how well it matched up with her energetic, pixieish persona.
#27: Bailie Key, USA. This charming, fun routine was a real crowd pleaser at the Secret Classic and U.S. Championships. Can’t wait to see what she does next season.
#26: Aisha Gerber, UCLA. A modern masterpiece from UCLA coach/choreographer Valorie Kondos-Field.
#25: Huang Qiushuang, CHN. Understated elegance from one of the quad’s most understatedly elegant performers.
#24: Gaelle Mys, BEL. The routine that makes this list isn’t her Olympic set, which was fine, but the engaging, crowd-working piece she showed at the Antwerp gala late in the year.
#23: Kristyna Palesova, CZE. A routine with a tremendous amount of heart. She chose a wonderful piece of music and packs in the choreography.
#22: Danusia Francis, GBR. Francis’s sassy, sophisticated “Burlesque” was original and oozed personality. One of the few routines that non-gymnastics fans could easily “get,” I think.
#21: Hannah Whelan, GBR. Like Francis’s, this was a new routine in 2011, but it makes this list because rarely do we see a routine that fits a gymnast so well. Who said the Brits were unexpressive again?
#20: Anna Rodionova, RUS. Watching this young Russian on floor evokes memories of an even more balletic Nastia Liukin (and also does a teensy bit of her choreography.) You’ll live for watching her glide backwards on her toes twice during this routine, just as gracefully as if she were wearing pointe shoes.
#19: McKayla Maroney, USA. Oh McKayla, we love you on vault, but if we had just one more wish, it would be that you had been able to do this routine in London as well.
#18: Maria Bondareva, RUS. Get to know this 1999-born Russian. She may well be the next big thing in Russian gymnastics. When you can do a floor routine like this at 13, you’re probably going places.
#17: Catalina Ponor, ROM. The Olympic floor silver medalist ditched an ill-chosen “Requiem for a Dream” after the European Championships in favor of this sleek Adi Pop-choreographed “Fever.” Marvelous decision.
#16: Anna Li, USA. What a pity that we saw this beautifully presented routine just once in competition this year, and that Li was not able to do the tumbling she might have in other circumstances. Still, it’s a wonderful example of classy choreo and finessed dance. I’d gladly watch this even if the tumbling passes were all split leaps.
Who had the best floor routine of 2012? Find out in part II here.
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