The 12 Days of Live Blogs: 1990 USSR vs The World

Welcome to the live blog for the fifth meet watch in our 12 Days of Gymnastics series, featuring the 1990 USSR vs The World and the 1990 McDonalds Challenge!

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5:31 pm. This was a fantastic meet. Tomorrow morning I’m traveling one year back in time to 1989 for the world championships all-around competition!

5:30 pm. Kim Zmeskal wins it with a 39.875, Oksana Chusovitina in a well-deserved second with a 39.675, and Natalia Laschenova in third with a 39.625. The Soviets win the team competition though!

5:28 pm. Oksana Chusovitina USSR FX: Double layout to back handspring rebounded through to a double full to back handspring to straddle jump to punch front MY GOD OKSANA?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Full-in with a nice lunge out of it. Shushunova. Double pike, excellent. Now THIS is a freaking 10. And she gets it!

5:26 pm. Nadia Comaneci is here and Bart is like “do you think there are two many perfect 10s here?” Are they married yet? Ooh, I just googled and they weren’t even dating yet and they keep sharing HILARIOUS LOOKS OF LOVE I’m dead.

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He legit asks if she would come to the U.S. and coach someday and her wiki says “Comaneci moved to Oklahoma in 1991 to help her friend Bart conner with his gymnastics school” HAHAHAHA WE’RE WITNESSING THE BEGINNING OF IT ALL ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

5:25 pm. Natalia Kalinina USSR FX: Double layout is excellent. Full in to back handspring through to roundoff back handsprings to a layout stepout, lovely. “Her music a modern jazz style” says Cathy, meaning it sounds like the Saved by the Bell theme song. Double back to finish is perfect. Given her iffy start on vault and bars, this was excellent.

5:24 pm. “Bela yells and screams but he has genuine affection for these youngsters.” GTFO.

5:22 pm. Kim Zmeskal will win the all-around title over Natalia Laschenova. Honestly what we saw of Kim was basically perfection and it wasn’t the best day for Natalia (floor aside) so I’m here for it even though there’s also probably a little USA home scoring involved.


5:20 pm. Kim Zmeskal USA VT: FTY, pretty good, maybe a little low. Bela’s like do it again, less speed into the board. The second attempt is PERFECT. Damn Kim. Bela literally was like OMG. And she gets a 10 and a standing ovation!

5:18 pm. Natalia Laschenova USSR FX: “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” This song would give me a panic attack if I had to compete to it. Double layout to back handspring to roundoff back handsprings to double tuck, MY HEART. Great tucked full-in. Double tuck to finish was diver-levels of cowboyed but she pulls it out.

5:15 pm. Kim Zmeskal fluff! Including the hideous leo that she made Bailie wear. Bless. The ranch. Shudder. Bela’s like “this isn’t a sacrifice, they’re breaking the human limit, this is a PRIDE, they are the happiest kids!” Shut the FRONT DOOR.

5:12 pm. Kim Zmeskal USA FX: Piked full-in, jumps it into a lunge. Lots of cutesy choreo moments and you WONDER where Ragan gets it from. Ragan truly belonged in the early 90s. Whip whip whip through to double tuck like it’s easy, awesome landing. Double back that starts out as a pike and turns into a tuck. Excellent routine. 9.975!

5:10 pm. Natalia Kalinina USSR BB: Back handspring mount is good. She was the one they hyped because she won Goodwill Games but she was 11th after the second rotation I believe. Dat 10.0 code. Rulfova. Switch down to the beam and backward rolls back up to handstand, nice. Bhs bhs loso series is okay. Triple jump series also fine, but nothing superb about it. Full-in dismount, step back.

5:08 pm. Living for Svetlana’s early 90s grunge energy. “I’m listening to Nirvana, leave me alone.”

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5:06 pm. Tatiana Groshkova is icing her ankle and the color commentator is worried, but Tatiana probably lives in ice with the skills she does, tbh.

Oksana Chusovitina USSR BB: Punch front mount, punch front basically right after. Same exact opening 30 years later. Queens only. Leaps into a back handspring. “That’s What Friends are For” playing in the background LOL. Chuso loves it. She’s had a lot of nice acro connected into various dance elements, working so super fluidly. Double tuck dismount with a step.

5:03 pm. Amy Scherr USA FX: Piked full-in with a rough landing, goes OOB. Solid double pike.Short on the double tuck.

5:00 pm. The United States is apparently trailing the Soviets.

Tatiana Groshkova USSR BB: My newest problematic fave! Excellent on her mount and leaps. Awesome on the layout full series. Into her scorpion hold, then dances out of it. Gainer layout stepout, transverse back handspring, Yurchenko loop, A TRUE HERO. Full turn. Full-in dismount with a solid landing. Some of what she does is SO perfect, some of what she does is SO messy, but everything she does is awesome.

4:58 pm. Natalia Laschenova USSR BB: Punch front mount. Good solid layout series. A little short on some of her jumps. Double tuck with a hop back. Good routine but not like, omg wow amazing.

4:56 pm. Hilary Grivich USA FX: Ugh RIP. ❤ Tucked full-in with a good landing. 1.5 through to double full with a tiny bounce back. Maybe a little short in some of her dance elements. She’s only 13 here, insane. Double tuck, runs back out of it but overall really solid.

4:55 pm. Tatiana Gutsu USSR BB: Tick tock into a jump down to a Korbut. Tucked full-in dismount. I’m guessing we joined this routine late but yas, get it girl.

4:54 pm. Okay we’ve literally seen ALMOST NOTHING. Kim Zmeskal has apparently done two events and is leading with a 19.900, just ahead of Chusovitina with a 19.825 and again, we’ve seen exactly two routines from the same person.

4:52 pm. Back to the commentators talking. So…….are we only going to watch Kalinina and no one else? They’re talking about Svetlana Boginskaya not competing today. She’s wearing a Vidal Sassoon t-shirt whilst angrily signing autographs. Our queen.

4:51 pm. Natalia Kalinina USSR UB: Deltchev to bail, legs came apart. She kept swinging but that was a mess. Big Tkachev. Short on some handstands after. Full-in with super messy legs and a giant lunge out of it.

4:50 pm. Okay, so we saw one routine from the first rotation? Cool. Oksana Chusovitina had the highest vault score with a 9.975.

4:49 pm. For some reason we’re getting an update about a Browns/Bears football game. LOVE IT! Okay, back to gymnastics and the person recording this on their VCR is adjusting the tracking HAHAHA MEMORIES.

4:47 pm. Natalia Kalinina USSR VT: FTY, chest down with a hop forward. It’s much better the second time, with just a tiny baby step back.

4:46 pm. We’re in the U.S. now and this meet has the best opening EVER. Honestly watched this clip about 9 billion times the other day. Bart Conner’s like “a football player is basically the size of a whole Soviet team!” and the color commentator just stares at him and then turns to Cathy Rigby. IT’S KILLING ME AGAIN.

“They’re not just little pixies. They’re incredible athletes.” Get it Cathy!

4:44 pm. Gonna press play on the McDonald’s USA vs USSR competition at 4:46 pm! Watch it here.

4:43 pm. The Soviets edge out the World on floor, and the Soviets win the meet with a 198.225 to the World team’s 198.075. Again: literally UCLA and Oklahoma.

4:40 pm. Eva Rueda WORLD FX: Excellent double layout. Double tuck to punch front, then continues into a roundoff and then her back handsprings to a layout full. I miss this nonsense so much. Good leaps. Double back to finish starts out piked but ends up tucked so not sure what exactly it was supposed to be. Another 10! omggggg

4:38 pm. Henrietta Onodi WORLD FX: Did she just bust out a Memmel turn? Maybe it was just a single, I wasn’t paying super close attention. Whip through to piked full-in, absolutely excellent tumbling. Triple full with great rotation. Some of her leaps are a little iffy. Double full to punch front side pass and then she does a bunch of back handsprings into the corner before her last pass, a double pike. DAMN ONODI. A well-deserved 10.

4:36 pm. Mirela Pasca WORLD FX: Piked full-in, chest a bit down. Switch ring into like…a jump series but it just looked like she was freaking out hahahaha. Whip through to double tuck, low set into the double tuck but gets it around. Is this Phil Collins HAHAHA. Romaniaaaaa. Then it switches back to crazy 80s dance music. I hate it. Double tuck, takes a step OOB.

4:33 pm. Svetlana Boginskaya USSR FX: Piked full-in to start is super clean. THE ARTISTRY THOUGH. God, that feeling when you remember what a true PERFORMANCE is. 1.5 through to double full, excellent. Cartwheel into a stag ring jump. Double tuck, a bit cowboyed again, but good work.

4:30 pm. Tatiana Groshkova USSR FX: Oooh yes, I forgot she’s Elvira Saadi’s kid. No wonder she’s a badass. Damn, she does a double-twisting double back, and it looked like both of the twists were in the first flip! The commentator says she’s never seen this done before, but this is 1990 so I assume it’s already the Silivas? Maybe she meant she’s never seen it with two twists in the first flip? Whip to double tuck is fine. Piked full-in, overrotates it a bit but turns it into choreography. 10 of course lmao.

4:29 pm. Soviets get 49.550 on beam, while the world gets 49.375.

4:27 pm. Tatiana Groshkova USSR BB: Literally bends herself in half on her press handstand. Lovely leap series. Bhs layout full series, pretty piked and messy in the layout, but you KNOW I stan a mess who does big difficulty. Scorpion held in excellent relevé. Transverse back handspring which she almost connects to a Yurchenko loop, ABSOLUTELY INSANE. Full-in dismount?! YAS. I feel like the Feelings Code will give this a 10 even though this was the weakest routine in terms of the majority of her form. YEP, A 10 LMAO. You love to see it.

4:25 pm. Yang Bo WORLD BB: Gorgeous extension on her sissone. One-arm bhs loso, beautiful. Full-twisting Korbut is also fantastic. Front aerial into a scale into a front walkover, I SCREAM. This is all I want from beam. Switch leap to Yang Bo, lovely. If this doesn’t get a 10 I will go back in time and burn this arena to the ground. Casual bhs loso loso because WHY NOT? Double tuck, cowboys the second flip a little bit, and has a tiny hop back. 9.95, pretty good considering beam has been low. “Low.”

4:23 pm. Natalia Laschenova USSR BB: GORGEOUS layout series. Superb height on that. Tick tock to sissone. I do love a nice tick tock in combo. Triple jump series. Another tick tock into a layout stepout, and then she walks it over into a swingdown. Gorgeous. Full-in dismount with a hop. I’m gonna give it a 9.95 based on the Feelings Code they’re apparently using here. And she goes 9.875.

4:21 pm. Leah Homma WORLD BB: HOMMA FLAIRS!!!! Bhs loso is solid. Hop to front aerial, and then multiple body waves hahahaha. Good leap series. Gainer loso. Double tuck out of two back handsprings, MUCH cleaner than Boginskaya’s dismount but her chest is pretty far down. 9.675????????

4:20 pm. Svetlana Boginskaya USSR BB: Punch front mount. They just called her an old lady. Bhs loso bhs, solid. Switch leap to sissone. Nice high relevé as she shows off flexibility into a ick tock down to the beam for choreography. Gainer loso is great. Split leap. Super cowboyed double tuck, as if that matters to Carol. Carol’s like can we give this a 12? Nope, just a 9.925.

4:18 pm. The World squad picked up some ground over the USSR on bars. They’re at 49.675 compared to 49.075 for the Soviets. I’m guessing a lot of Soviet routines had falls or something, they’re only showing selected routines.

4:17 pm. Yang Bo WORLD UB: Oh yes it’s THAT Yang Bo! Huge Jaeger to overshoot, she’s hitting every handstand, and has a great landing on her double tuck dismount. “That’s the most AWESOME release move I’ve EVER seen!” The commentary about her Jaeger, bless. 9.9!

4:16 pm. Mirela Pasca WORLD UB: Romanian, has both a Gienger and Tkachev, not a super exciting routine overall, but she performs it very well. “A lot of questions about the future of gymnastics in Romania” OH JUST YOU WAIT. SUPER clean full-in dismount. 10!

4:14 pm. Tatiana Groshkova USSR UB: Gienger, some leg separation, OOH, she has a really cool low bar release where she stalders and then lets go of the bar and does a little 1.5 spin in the air then catches again, apparently a “big deal” skill in the 70s. Nice (it’s apparently a Burda Twirl). Also does a Comaneci salto! Her dismount, a full-in, is a bit of a mess, but that was an interesting routine. 9.925

4:13 pm. Henrietta Onodi WORLD UB: A clear hip full from the Hungarian, and then a full twisting transition to the high bar. Has both a Gienger and Jaeger release, back to back, then drops down to the low bar. Blind change to front giant, then a blind full into the double tuck dismount, stuck. That was great! 10!

4:12 pm. Leah Homma WORLD UB: A Canadian gymnast best known for the Homma flairs on beam! Had a good Jaeger to overshoot, and also did a clear hip full on the low bar which was pretty badass at this time. Had some issues with the giants before her double tuck dismount. 9.825, okay this is literally NCAA scoring

4:11 pm. Natalia Kalinina USSR UB: Lovely Deltchev to overshoot. Also has a great Tkachev. Some short handstands and a step/balance check on the full-in dismount but she’ll probably get a 10 anyway lmao. Nope, a 9.9!

4:10 pm. The USSR has a 0.5 lead over THE WORLD here, hahaha.

4:08 pm. Tatiana Groshkova USSR VT: Huge but super messy FTY, pretty piked down and a messy landing. Missed one of her hands on the horse. Again, the second one was one thousand percent better. Not GREAT, she’s SO tiny, but much improved from the first attempt. Yet she gets a 10 anyway LMAO. CAROL!

4:07 pm. Svetlana Boginskaya USSR VT: Chest was pretty far down on her first FTY attempt, but the second one is much cleaner, and stuck cold. Another 10!

4:06 pm. Eva Rueda WORLD VT: A Spanish gymnast with a nice FTY, had a hop on the first attempt but stuck the second. I assume she’ll get a 10. This is literally a UCLA vs Oklahoma meet. Ugh, JUST A 9.975! RUDE.

4:05 pm. Oksana Chusovitina USSR VT: Baby Chuso is 15 here and they’re like “she might be one of the best vaulters in the world!” HOW WAS THIS 30 YEARS AGO AND BASICALLY THE SAME MESSAGE? Chuso does a handspring front pike half, and it’s honestly almost fully laid out. Another 10!

4:04 pm. Someone just warmed up the most perfect double pike on floor.

Natalia Laschenova USSR VT: Just stuck an FTY, gorgeous and flared, an NCAA 9.9. But here, it’s a 10!

4:02 pm. Lots of fantastic commentary about how the political world is changing in the USSR, but gymnastics is STAYING THE SAME!

This is a “pre Olympic matchup” in Spain, so kind of what we’d call a friendly meet now, except here, it’s the USSR vs “the world,” which seems to include gymnasts from Spain and Hungary and a few other countries.

Svetlana Boginskaya is leading the Soviet team.

3:58 pm. Today we’re getting into a time when the Soviets lorded over us all, but the rest of the world was starting to figure out this whole gymnastics thing and wanted to compete against the best to see how they measured up. It was also a time when the world was changing and the iron walls of the Eastern bloc were beginning to crumble, paving the way for greater collaboration and stronger relationships between the east and west.

Here are the links for today!

I hope you can join us and enjoy another journey down memory lane! I’ll hit play on the first video at 4:02 pm.

One thought on “The 12 Days of Live Blogs: 1990 USSR vs The World

  1. Pingback: The 12 Days of Live Blogs: 1990 USSR vs The World – SportUpdates

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