Quite Possibly My Favorite Floor Routine
This may be a huge surprise considering she wasn’t a very well known gymnast or didn’t make any major floor finals, but I will come out and say it anyways: Elena Sazonenkova has my absolute favorite floor routine of all time.
Sazonenkova was the least celebrated member of the famous 1989 Soviet World Team. I believe she was put up around second on every event. She didn’t even get above a 9.9 on floor. On a team that included Svetlana Boginskaya, Natalia Laschenova, Olga Strazheva and Olesia Dudnik, it would have been hard for her to really emerge as a star. In fact, it is a bit of a surprise that she was even on that team; the alternates, Natalia Kalinina and Yulia Kut were probably more famous than Sazonenkova. Still, she managed to make beam finals largely due to Boginskaya’s fall.
What I love about her on floor is her dance. She, like many Soviets, feels every second of the music. Her routine was perfectly choreographed to suit her style, even though she received it after 1989 worlds when she would have likely been a B Team gymnast. It took me a while to fully appreciate her on floor, because she doesn’t quite connect to the audience like Omelianchik or have the tumbling of Laschenova. After watching her routine at least 50 or so times, though, I think she has the complete package: Music, Dance, Tumbling, it’s all there.
Sazonenkova, in the words of the commentator, had to “Dance and Tumble like she never had before,” to win the 1991 Universiade with this routine. The performance I am choosing to show may not be as perfected, but what impresses me is that shecompetes a full-in at the end. In the end, it won her a National title, which was quite an accomplishment in the Soviet Union.
Unfortunately, any dreams that Sazonenkova may have had about going to the olympics were ended by the break up of the Soviet Union; Latvia decided not to compete with the Unified Team, meaning that she was not qualified.