Monday, 12 September 2011

Favourite routines - Chellsie Memmel on floor, night 2 of the 2008 Olympic Trials

People always talk about Chellsie Memmel in 2003. They talk about how she was thrown on a world team with very little experience, and how she rose to the challenge fantastically to become one of their highest scoring members. People always seem to remember this Chellsie Memmel. But the Chellsie I like to remember is the Chellsie from the 2008 Olympic Trials.
Who can honestly say they expected what we saw from her? 2007 wasn’t a great year for Chellsie, but she came roaring back in 2008, proving to the world what a strong, gifted gymnast she was. Of all her routines in this competition, my favourite by far is her floor from night 2.

It is exciting from the beginning. I love the way the music crashes in right from the beginning, leading into that powerful sprint into the huge double piked Arabian, which just hangs in the air. And then back again for that double layout – which I always love as a second pass, it must require so much energy!
What I particularly love about this routine, though, is that it proves that there can be fantastic non balletic floor routines. Chellsie isn’t known for her choreography, but this routine was so full of energy and explosive power and interesting artistry achieved in a different way, that it didn’t matter a shred. I am of course referring mainly to the combination beginning with Chellsie’s signature illusion turn...that front handspring to straddle sit with bounce back up to stand is so original and cool – its little details like that which make a routine in my opinion, and really set Chellsie apart from the crowd.
Having said that though, it never hurts to stick a double pike. I don’t think I have seen one landed like that, before or since. Like an arrow into the ground, not even a flicker. And the energy in that room looked amazing...her standing ovation well deserved.
One of the comments on the youtube video is: “This is THE American routine of the decade”. I have to agree. I can’t think of a floor routine by an American woman I have enjoyed more, certainly since 2000 at least. The energy, the power, the music, the non balletic choreography, right down to that great ending pose. I love it all. And thats why Chellsie Memmel on night 2 of the 2008 olympic trials is among my favourite routines of all time. What an unbelievable shame she got injured (but then again given how much she has improved this year we may see a parallel performance at the 2012 olympic trials!)

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