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Nadia has never cried.
September 28, 2012 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Nadia is perfect. Nadia is perfect. Nadia is perfect. Nadia never cries and never falls. Nadia is a covergirl. Nadia is a Hero of Socialist Labor. Nadia is very dangerous to her enemies.

Nadia competes one-handed, with blood poisoning, and likes Robert Redford. Nadia escapes, parts I and II.

Now, Nadia is very busy.
posted by Snarl Furillo (57 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
7
posted by Gyan at 12:39 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nadia is drop-dead adorable.
posted by jfuller at 12:42 PM on September 28, 2012


What's hilarious about this is how unimpressive her bars work is when compared with what the ladies do today. Seriously, that bar routine is amateur-hour stuff.
posted by nushustu at 12:48 PM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was 13 in the summer 1976, and watched all that live on television. That uneven bar routine was the exact moment when my heterosexuality was set in stone.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:03 PM on September 28, 2012 [10 favorites]


Well, of course it's boring now, nushustu. This is almost 40 years ago. Nadia did those perfectly, though - and was the first to do them perfectly - so the girls in her wake had to step it up, routine-wise.

It's like in figure skating; we see a double-axel now and yawn, but the first, I'm sure, was very exciting! The first 4-minute mile was exciting. The first sub-:10 100 metre dash was exciting. Not now, though. People have trained to surpass them. That's the thing about sport - Can you surpass your heroes?

It was ever thus.

I saw this on TV as a little girl. I'd just turned 7, and tumbled all over the floors of my house and outside on the lawn for weeks afterwards. I'm lucky I didn't break my fool neck.
posted by droplet at 1:08 PM on September 28, 2012 [24 favorites]


I'm two years older than you, Devils Rancher; Olga Korbut did that for me.
posted by Curious Artificer at 1:13 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uneven Bars Development gives a better glimpse of how good she was.
posted by cazoo at 1:16 PM on September 28, 2012 [39 favorites]


What's hilarious about this is how unimpressive her bars work is when compared with what the ladies do today. Seriously, that bar routine is amateur-hour stuff.

Technically, they were amateurs back then. Oh, is that the joke?
posted by mygoditsbob at 1:23 PM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I don't run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.....I believe that you should gravitate to people who are doing productive and positive things with their lives."~Nadia Comaneci

posted by molisk at 1:24 PM on September 28, 2012 [11 favorites]


Uneven Bars Development gives a better glimpse of how good she was.

That is absolutely fascinating.
posted by The Bellman at 1:25 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's hilarious about this is how unimpressive her bars work is when compared with what the ladies do today. Seriously, that bar routine is amateur-hour stuff.

I don't think that's true. I think that most top level gymnasts would struggle to reproduce what appears now to be a very straightforward routine with the same rhythm and grace that Comaneci exhibits. Some people, when you see them walk, it's impressive.
posted by tigrefacile at 1:31 PM on September 28, 2012 [6 favorites]


What's hilarious about this is how unimpressive her bars work is when compared with what the ladies do today.

Give you three guesses to get one the name of one of the people you have to thank for that.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 1:32 PM on September 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


Anybody remember the (possibly made for TV?) movie about Nadia Comaneci? It was like the National Velvet of behind-the-iron-curtain competitive sports.
posted by Sara C. at 1:35 PM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Whoever creates a post with sport montages like the one Cazoo links, will be favourited like Nadia in 78.
posted by monocultured at 1:36 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


droplet: s boring now, nushustu. This is almost
Yeah, and how about those Beatles guys? C'mon - six chords? You call that a rock song?
posted by IAmBroom at 1:41 PM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm old enough to have watched both Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci. It is hard to communicate just how big a deal they were back in the day. And they WERE a very very big deal.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:47 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


That uneven bar routine was the exact moment when my heterosexuality was set in stone.

Homosexual Agenda Thwarted By Gymnastics
posted by Beardman at 1:49 PM on September 28, 2012 [18 favorites]


tigrefacile: I think that most top level gymnasts would struggle to reproduce what appears now to be a very straightforward routine with the same rhythm and grace that Comaneci exhibits.

I have to second this. What impressed me most was the perfect balance beam routine, because at no point during the entire run does it look like she's trying to balance herself. She just is balanced.

Perhaps someone with more experience studying these things could point out to me where she appears to lean or stutter or otherwise correct an off-balance position, but to my untrained eyes, it's like she was using a Tony Hawk Pro Skater cheat code on that thing.
posted by kilozerocharliealphawhiskey at 1:51 PM on September 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think that most top level gymnasts would struggle to reproduce what appears now to be a very straightforward routine with the same rhythm and grace that Comaneci exhibits.

They couldn't. Thanks to the changes in the uneven bars themselves, they just can't. They're significantly farther apart vertically and dramatically far apart horizontally. Today's gymnasts simply could not perform Nadia's routine, and Nadia would have just as much trouble with today's routines. Beats and wraps simply do not exist anymore, because of the distance between the bars, and strength moves have become much more prominent, both directly (giants) and indirectly (twisting flight elements between the bars, esp. from the low to the high bar.)

Arguably, the apparatus has changed so much that Nadia competed on a completely different apparatus than today's competitors do, so comparisons between them are hard to justify.
posted by eriko at 1:51 PM on September 28, 2012 [20 favorites]


Seconding eriko's observation. It seems like the 1980s was the major era of change where the bars finally moved far enough apart to completely change the nature of the apparatus and the way it was used.
posted by slkinsey at 1:58 PM on September 28, 2012


That uneven bar routine was the exact moment when my heterosexuality was set in stone.

Homosexual Agenda Thwarted By Gymnastics

On balance, no, because eventually a nine year old girl named Sara C. would see said uneven bar routine on tape, immediately cementing her bisexuality.
posted by Sara C. at 1:59 PM on September 28, 2012 [18 favorites]


Nadia would have just as much trouble with today's routines.

Lies. Nadia can do anything.

Seriously, that bar routine is amateur-hour stuff.

Nadia will find you.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:59 PM on September 28, 2012 [16 favorites]


I mean, I kid, cazoo's video is awesome. And it is surprising how simple Nadia's routine looks today and how much the apparatus has changed (I'm still not over the fact that the horse has become a table, either).

But Nadia is still a total BAMF.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:01 PM on September 28, 2012


But Nadia is still a total BAMF.

Oh my god of course! That explains so much.
posted by The Bellman at 2:05 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was thinking as I watched the Olympics recently - the uneven bars are now placed so far apart that combo moves between bars are rare, and the girls spend so much more time on the higher bar that I wonder how long before they just eliminate the lower bar and just have women's high bar, like the men's high bar.
posted by dnash at 2:12 PM on September 28, 2012


Please, as if Nadia would ever make noise when she teleported. Nadia is trained in stealth.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:14 PM on September 28, 2012


That video cazoo linked is amazing, and includes a Korbut Flip which is shown in more detail here and is just like... holy fucking shit.
posted by kmz at 2:15 PM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Uneven Bars Development gives a better glimpse of how good she was.

Wow, I had no idea the bars used to be so close together. Watching all those chicks take the bar in the stomach like that, the whole video I was just sitting here saying, "OW. OW. OW." over and over.
posted by phunniemee at 2:28 PM on September 28, 2012


Last time I read anything about her she seemed kind of down and out, doing underwear modeling and such.
posted by DarkForest at 2:42 PM on September 28, 2012


DarkForest, make sure you read the Nadia escapes links above. Those tell the resolution to her escape and the couple that held her hostage for about a year.
posted by bonehead at 3:04 PM on September 28, 2012


I miss the old placement of the bars. I think the swapping back and forth between bars is much more interesting than the whirling around the top bar.
posted by crush-onastick at 3:49 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


(also, phunni, my cousin was learning how to do that stuff in the 70's and she said the whole point was controlling your speed so you don't actually hit yourself in the stomach with the bar; you just glide into it and slide through the move. she fell off, once, dislocated her hip and never went back)
posted by crush-onastick at 3:55 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. I guess I'd heard about that beam routine but never really seen it before.

That's fucking amazing.
posted by Cyrano at 3:56 PM on September 28, 2012


(also, phunni, my cousin was learning how to do that stuff in the 70's and she said the whole point was controlling your speed so you don't actually hit yourself in the stomach with the bar; you just glide into it and slide through the move. she fell off, once, dislocated her hip and never went back)

That's a relief, the thought I had was "Oof right in the ovaries!"
posted by bleep at 4:03 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Homosexual Agenda Thwarted By Gymnastics

Apollo Ono came along too late in life to completely un-thwart. My wife goes on about him, & I just smile & nod.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:15 PM on September 28, 2012


The thing that really impressed me was her balance beam routine. Even when she stands, it's perfect. She can be standing on her left leg, put her right leg down, and then lift her left leg without you ever seeing a glimpse of her shifting her weight. Her legs move as if she's suspended from a harness.

That video, cazoo, is absolutely fascinating. One thing that struck me most was not only the difference in tricks, but the speed. Gymnasts now move much faster. As a spectator, I prefer the slower routines. The faster ones are centered around swinging and flipping from the bars, where the slower ones are a testimony to strength and grace and balance.
posted by FirstMateKate at 4:43 PM on September 28, 2012


Happy this extraordinary athlete, so brilliant at such a young age, who went though much hardship, has found a workable and satisfying peace in her adulthood. Brava Nadia.
posted by nickyskye at 4:44 PM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


nushustu: What's hilarious about this is how unimpressive her bars work is when compared with what the ladies do today. Seriously, that bar routine is amateur-hour stuff.

To be fair, the linked video is of Nadia's compulsory bar routine. Compulsories were meant to be simple; the point was to show how well the athlete could master the skills. Elite gymnastics (the level seen at the Olympics) no longer includes compulsories in competition.

Gymnasts showed off their difficult moves in "optionals." Nadia's optionals bar routine included a release named after her -- the straddled front flip to recatch the high bar -- that still carries a high difficulty rating today. (It's an E on a scale from A-G, with A being the easiest.)

For fun: neat commercial from 2004 featuring, through digital trickery, both Nadia and Nastia Liukin, who would go on to win the All-Around gold medal at the Beijing Olympic Games.
posted by swerve at 4:45 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I highly recommend reading the "very dangerous to her enemies" link in the post - it's an 11-page SI article from 1979, and rewarding mostly for the vivid image of drunken papa Bela Karolyi.
posted by thedaniel at 4:57 PM on September 28, 2012


Nadia's now married to Bart Conner and coaches with him, as well as doing a ton of charity work in Romania and the US. She's doing well.
posted by catlet at 5:26 PM on September 28, 2012


Reading the People article makes me really sad/scared/worried for high profile North Korean women.

It's funny, I grew up at the end of the cold war, in exactly the time this all happened to Comaneci, and yet the whole defection stuff just seemed so far away and like not really a thing. Like you come to America on a tour or something and then just don't get on the plane home. But, wow. I had no idea.
posted by Sara C. at 5:37 PM on September 28, 2012


Apollo Ono came along too late in life to completely un-thwart.

It's like an arms race! A well-muscled arms race...
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:53 PM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know it was the 70s, but the sexism of most articlea referring to her just by her first name is hard to take. Argh.
posted by medusa at 5:56 PM on September 28, 2012


Medusa, I was most put-off but how blatantly critical many of the articles were about her weight when she was 15 and 16, saying that she got "fat" and that she could never compete again, that she must be lazy, that it couldn't be "just" puberty, there must be something else...it's pretty horrible.

And she revealed later that she has suffered from two different eating disorders.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:12 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a fetch video, cazoo.

I was a kid, I wanted to be one of two things: a gymnast because of Nadia or a figure skater because of Dorothy Hamill. Practice for figure skating involved a nearby frozen creek and an old school tape recorder with "Please Don't Go" by K.C. and the Sunshine Band recorded by holding it up to a radio. Gymnastics practice involved piling up a couple mattresses and practicing back flips. (Mom didn't appreciate the regular furniture re-arranging...)

Good times!
posted by foxhat10 at 6:18 PM on September 28, 2012


> the sexism of most articles referring to her just by her first name is hard to take.

Beyoncé, Björk, Enya, Jewel, Ke$ha, Madonna, Oprah. When those articles were current, "Nadia" was right up at the top of the list of single names that need no other. But if you just gonna see sexism you'll see sexism in a tunafish sandwich.
posted by jfuller at 8:37 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Her (?) youtube channel has all sorts of groovy gymnastics stuff. It's a goldmine in there!
posted by dejah420 at 9:23 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm really surprised at how historic gymnastic feats are now perceived as garbage.

What about the pretty significant decreases in race time for sprinters and marathoners in the same time period. Are they also that much less impressive?
posted by porpoise at 10:45 PM on September 28, 2012


Kind of weird to sexualize athletes like that.
posted by LordSludge at 11:16 PM on September 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kind of weird to sexualize athletes like that.

I'm not sure there's another type of human being who are sexualized more often and by more people than athletes. Actors, I guess.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:16 AM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Sara C. The Nadia TV movie is available on YouTube. I watched it so many times as a kid that I think I have it memorized.
posted by missmerrymack at 9:56 AM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure there's another type of human being who are sexualized more often and by more people than athletes. Actors, I guess.

With actors, musicians & other stage performers, even bartenders and wait-staff the sexuality is part of the gig. Athletes are supposed to be admired for their athletic performance.

But, yeah, a lot of guys watch women's figure skating, beach volleyball, or gymnastics specifically for the skimpy outfits and teh hawt bodies. Creepy. And really not a good way forward.

(Perhaps I'm the worst offender, as I was once married to a semi-pro athlete...)
posted by LordSludge at 10:24 AM on September 29, 2012


Gymnastics is a form of beauty, and beauty is an element of attraction.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:31 AM on September 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


OMG just from the opening title it's all coming back. Thanks, missmerrymack!
posted by Sara C. at 10:49 AM on September 29, 2012


LordSludge: Athletes are supposed to be admired for their athletic performance.
Well, I'm glad we have you to tell us how we're supposed to think about athletes.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:29 PM on October 2, 2012


I would think it obvious and well-established that sexually objectifying female athletes is creepy and gross. I don't think I'm out of line in pointing that out.
posted by LordSludge at 4:56 PM on October 2, 2012


That's not the same as what you said in the quote, LordSludge.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:40 AM on October 5, 2012


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