YouTube is great for a gymnastics enthusiast like me because I'm usually focused on looking for a particular routine or skill, and I don't have to watch the fluff pieces or downtime or slow motion replays or score deliberation. However, I've really enjoyed watching the 1981 National Championships, which someone has posted in its entirety, divided into different video clips.
Watching the whole broadcast, you really get a feel for the skill level and style that the US was working at in 1981. I'd compare it to a decent level 9 meet today. Maybe level 10. Julianne McNamara and Tracee Talavera seemed to be ushering in the 80's with a more dynamic style and improved technique than what had been seen in the '70s.
Tracee, at only 14, had a such a mature presence and great form and confidence. Julianne already was swinging bars in a more modern way--although I hate how the very first thing you see is a bent arms.
There are lots of scary falls too--double tucks that were lucky to be face-plants instead of broken necks. Shari Mann's balked bar dismount--a free-hip-back-- was a near disaster, but it didn't seem to faze her. The rest of her routine is really fun to watch though--old school '70's style, full of beats and twists. Viewing the entire field, it's pretty clear that the big difference between then and now is improvement in proper technique. When you see them run for the roundoff backhandspring, you already know that the double back--or whatever-- is going to be a disaster.
Here's part 1, with parts 2 and 3 following.