Beauty and Grace Take Over Los Angeles

This weekend, in the first major competition for the season, rhythmic gymnasts from all over the world are going to show off new routines at L.A. Lights.

Past medalists include world champion Rizatdinova from the Ukraine, European champion Charkashyna from Belarus, Maximenko from the Ukraine, Staniouta from Belarus, and, my new persona favorite, Galkina from Belarus, who won the tournament as a junior. Here is Galkina at last year's worlds. She is very athletic and dynamic:

I am also excited about this year's participants, particularly those by Iliana Rhythmic Gymnastics, out of Philadelphia, coached by one of my favorite gymnasts from the past. I would like to highlight Evgeniya Chernukhina, a very promising representative of this club:

Here is the most up to date participant list:


I wish all the participants the best of health and the strength to perform strong, expressive routines!


When Is the Last Time Someone Took a Risk?

For many years now, club routines bore me. This is by far my favorite apparatus and one where skills and coordination can really shine. Kudryavtseva has stellar technique but she doesn't risk as much as she could. Silvia Miteva had some strong club routines but nothing like what the Bulgarian school used to demonstrate in the past. The Ukrainians are flirty and playful, or, for that matter, dramatic, but they hold on to the clubs and dance with them mostly. Perhaps Kondakova came the closest to a dynamic,interesting clubs routine, though she almost never did it cleanly.

I have purposefully picked an event where this amazing gymnast, Stela Salapatiiska, actually did not perform as cleanly as usual. I have watched this routine hundreds of times live, and she made it look so easy, you almost didn't notice how crazy it is. I have literally seen her do it and then walk of the carpet without being short of breath. Astonishing:

I am waiting for the moment when a gymnast would be this brave. The fans deserve it.


Happy Birthday to My Greatest Gymnast Inspiration!

Today, on Maria Petrova's birthday, I remember with joy and nostalgia the days when I brought her flowers at competitions, took many pictures of her on my first camera, and lined up to receive her autograph. From the first moment I watched her, I knew she would achieve greatness in this sport.

On this magical day, I would like to remember one of her oldest routines.This routine is from 1991. Only two years before she presented her famous Carmina Burana hoop. The 1991 routine is not as dramatic and polished but it is full of potential. Also, this is one of VERY few times I have seen Maria with a pony tail. :-)

To all fans of Maria, I say: cheers! Believe in your inspiring stars.