Floor Routines # 25-21!

We took a little break from our countdown floor routines because of all the major competitions going on right now, but the next batch of five is now ready.  Here’s a look at the overall list so far, followed by the new additions:

50.  Sui Lu, China

49.  Annia Hatch, United States

48. Brenda Magana, Mexico

47.  Oksana Chusovitina, Uzbekistan/Germany

46.  Mohini Bhardwaj, United States

45.  Fan Ye, China

44.  Beth Tweddle, Great Britain

43.  Zhang Nan, China

42.  Pang Panpan, China

41.  Alyona Kvasha, Ukraine

40.  Nastia Liukin, United States

39.  Jana Bieger, United States

38.  Kytra Hunter, United States

37.  Carly Patterson

36.  Kate Richardson

35.  Elise Ray, United States

34.  Simona Amanar, Romania

33.  Terin Humphrey, United States

32.  Bridget Sloan, United States

31.  Chellsie Memmel, United States

30.  Catalina Ponor, Romania

29.  Isabelle Severino, France

28.  Elena Gomez, Spain

27.  Daiane dos Santos, Brazil

26.  Verona van de Leur, The Netherlands

# 25

Courtney McCool, United States

Courtney McCool Floor 2004 USA Championships

Though she just finished up a very strong NCAA career with the Georgia GymDogs, Courtney McCool’s best gymnastics (by far and away) came during the 2004 Olympic selection process.  With some of the most impeccable form and technique of any gymnast in U.S. history, McCool exploded onto both the American and international scene literally months before the Olympics in Athens.  Extremely impressive showings at the 2004 American Cup and Olympic test event served notice that McCool could perhaps be a secret weapon for the already strong American women’s team.  By the time the nationals and Olympic Trials rolled around, McCool completely looked the part.  As indicated by this near flawless floor routine, McCool’s gymnastics was looking more polished than ever, and she locked herself one of the two “guaranteed” spots on the Olympic team by finishing 2nd overall at the Trials behind Courtney Kupets.  Despite being touted as a threat for an all-around medal in Athens, unfortunately fate had other plans for McCool…major errors on beam and floor in the preliminaries left her watching the team finals, all-around finals, AND event finals from the sidelines.

# 24

Alina Kozich, Ukraine

Alina Kozich Floor 2004 Olympics Team Finals

The 2004 European all-around champion, the always popular Alina Kozich of Ukraine headed into the Olympics in Athens with high hopes for an all-around medal.  And had she not fallen on her balance beam dismount in the all-around finals, her dream just may have been within reach.  After finishing a disappointing 11th place – and also just missing out on a team medal in 4th – Kozich had one opportunity left to win an Olympic medal…in the floor finals.  After hitting medal-worthy routines in the team prelims, the team finals, AND the all-around finals, Kozich unfortunately fell on her difficult first pass in the event finals and finished 8th.  Kozich did continue to compete through the 2008 Olympics, but despite still having strong difficulty and very elegant gymnastics, she never quite hit her stride under the new scoring system.  A disastrous floor routine in Beijing left her in 45th in the all-around prelims, and her team finished a dismal 11th place and failed to make the team finals.

# 23

Tasha Schwikert, United States

Tasha Schwikert Floor 2002 Pacific Aliiance Event Finals

Though Tasha probably rode this popular routine far longer than she should have, there’s no question that during its first two seasons it was one of the most well put together routines in the world.  The somewhat saucy choreography and confident showmanship in this routine – which debuted in 2001 – fit Tasha’s personality and the stage of her career perfectly, and fans quickly embraced her as America’s next star.  The audience appeal, the dance combinations, and the effortless tumbling already made this a world class routine, but it was really the stunning punch front that Tasha added after her half-in-half-out in 2002 that really elevated this routine to a whole new level.  Had Tasha known that 2002 would be the peak of her career, she likely wouldn’t have elected to skip the 2002 world championships, where a world floor title would have been HIGHLY likely.

# 22

Patricia Moreno, Spain

Patricia Moreno Floor 2005 American Cup

Most remembered for competing a rarely done 3 ½ twist, Patricia Moreno proved she had the total package on floor when she won a surprise bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics on this event.  Her trademark qualities of quick tumbling, great twisting ability, and crowd-pleasing choreography were even more evident in 2005, when she competed the best floor routines of her career.  This winning routine at the 2005 American Cup was just one example of how well she combined her dance with clean, difficult, and innovative tumbling passes.  Though she competed through 2008, her tumbling ability went a bit downhill, and Spain also failed to qualify a team to the 2008 Olympic Games.  Her work during her peak was truly one of a kind though, and thus she landed a spot among the past decade’s very best.

# 21

Carly Janiga, United States

Carly Janiga Floor 2004 USA Championships

Like some of the other gymnasts on this list, Carly Janiga could certainly be viewed as a gymnastics “one-hit wonder.”  Few experts and fans had even HEARD of her before the 2004 Olympic season approached, yet positive comments from both Karolyi’s and quickly circulating buzzes about her incredible skills left many touting her as a dark horse pick for the Olympic team.  At the 2004 USA Nationals, Carly lived up to the hype, throwing a double twisting Yurchenko on vault, multiple twisting skills on beam, and one of the most packed floor routines in the entire world.  A pair of 9.6’s on beam and strong scores on vault and floor made her a legitimate contender, but after being underscored at the Olympic Trials and missing beam the first day, it became apparent that Carly’s Olympic dream was not to be.  This underscored floor routine from the 2004 nationals was unquestionably one of the best of the last decade, and it’s unfortunate she never had the opportunity to compete it on the world stage.  Ironically, Janiga just recently became the NCAA champion on bars, her weakest event as an elite (despite competing an incredibly rare Gaylord II).