Elise Ray, United States
Elise Ray Floor 2000 Olympic Trials
The 2000 USA national all-around champion put together some pretty darn impressive floor routines that year. Known for perhaps the best looking triple full to punch front ever done, Elise Ray was a twister both in the air as well as on her toes. Her turning elements on both floor and beam were just as impressive as her acrobatic skills, and her balletic dance style and elegant presentation made her a favorite among judges all around the world. Elise clearly peaked during the national championships and Olympic trials in 2000, and unfortunately had more than her share of mishaps at the Olympics in Sydney. She did make the balance beam finals and helped her team to a solid 4th place finish, although it may well turn to bronze this month as the fate of the underage Dong Fangxiao and her Chinese teammates will soon be decided.
Simona Amanar, Romania
Simona Amanar Floor 2000 Olympics All-Around Finals
Ironically, Simona Amanar is probably remembered much more for her incredible tumbling and vaulting abilities than she is for becoming the 2000 Olympic all-around champion…a title she inherited when teammate Andrea Raducan was disqualified after the all-around finals had been completed. One of the most consistent Romanian gymnasts of all time, Simona could always be counted on to hit a very strong floor routine, although her dance was certainly uninspiring to say the least. She essentially used the exact same tumbling passes for about six years…with the only difference being she had a different piece of folk music playing in the background each year.
Terin Humphrey, United States
Terin Humphrey Floor 2004 USA Nationals
Everyone always pulled for Terin Humphrey. She had a certain humility and likeable attitude that was just very refreshing, and her spot on the 2004 Olympic Team was absolutely earned. Though Terin’s presentation and choreography were far ahead of her actual dance elements (chronic problems completing her jump double fulls and triple turn and lack of extension in her leaps), there’s no doubt her routine was an amazing blend of difficult tumbling and artistry. Terin emerged as the most consistent member of the entire 2004 Olympic squad, and probably would have been a smarter option than Courtney Kupets for floor in the team finals. Her routine here from the 2004 nationals showed what her routine had the potential to look like when she was on…as she was on every routine in Athens.
Bridget Sloan, United States
Bridget Sloan Floor 2009 Worlds All-Around
Though she’s rarely acknowledged for it, Bridget Sloan is one of the best floor workers in the world. Few would have ever predicted that the gymnast who sneaked onto the national scene and eventually onto the 2008 Olympic team would become the all-around world champion in 2009. Bridget earned every bit of her gold medal, and it was this floor routine that sealed the deal in the final rotation of the all-around finals. This same routine that clinched the 2009 national all-around title for her truly has it all – clean, difficult, and original tumbling, perfectly executed landings, great presentation, and beautiful turning elements. It may be time for Bridget to make this routine a little more difficult, but this wonderfully packaged set earns her a spot among the decade’s top 50.
Chellsie Memmel, United States
I could have easily chosen a couple of other routines to represent Chellsie Memmel in this top 50 countdown, such as her stellar 2008 Olympic Trials routine or her 2006 world team finals performance. I chose this one because it not only represented the absolute pinnacle of Chellsie’s career – the 2005 world all-around title – but because it really was her most well-rounded and impressive floor routine ever. Not only was the tumbling magnificent – including her trademark two whips to double Arabian, a beautiful double layout, gutsy piked full-in, and perfect double pike – but it was exciting choreography and probably the best “Memmel turn” she ever competed.