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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Your Daily Dose of Gymnastics: Lilia Podkopayeva

Lilia Podkopayeva was a huge fan favorite in the mid-nineties. Not MY huge favorite, mainly because I think she took the cutesy route and I'm not a fan of cutesy. However, one thing is undeniable: she's probably the best female front tumbler ever.

These days front tumbling is much more commonplace than it was in the early to mid-nineties and Lilia Podkopayeva was at the forefront of that trend. Still, no one since has been able to tumble forward as effortlessly as she. The speed and rhythm of her front handsprings and double fronts are the same as if she were tumbling backwards.

The routine shown here is not the worst cutesy offense I've ever seen; at least it's got a classical style to it. Lilia was known for balletic routines, incorporating leaps and turns more suited for the stage. Her fouette turns may not impress dancers but are deceptively difficult: multiple turns are not easy when you're sinking into a layer of carpet and foam. Most gymnasts do "outward" turns from a lunge (turning in the direction of the front leg) because inward turns (ballet style from fourth position) aren't ideal on the narrowness of the balance beam or the softness of the floor.

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