Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pommel Horse Primer: Traveling Russians


Russians 201: Traveling Russians


If you've ever watched a pommel horse routine, you know that the gymnasts do not stay in one spot. (If you've never seen a pommel horse routine, you might want to watch a couple before reading this blog. Just a suggestion.) This is called traveling, and what you have to understand is that there are many ways to travel on a pommel horse.

Unfortunately, I cannot explain every single type of travel in a single post. If I did, you would probably find the nearest corner, curl up in a fetal position, and start rocking back and forth as you sing Rebecca Black's "Friday." So, today, I'm just going to explain two types of travels, both of which involve Russians and leather. Pay attention because there will be a quiz at the end.

The first is called a Tong Fei.

Originally performed in the early 80s, this skill is still being competed by elite gymnasts, and it's still a rather difficult move (a D).  Basically, the gymnast starts a Russian, and as he does so, he travels from one end of the pommel horse to the other. What sets the Tong Fei apart is that the gymnast does not touch the center of the pommel horse, but rather reaches from one end to the other end. That ain't easy.

The second traveling Russian I want to mention is called a Wu Guonian.

In order to do a Wu Guonian, the gymnast must touch all 3 leather parts of the horse. (In the Code of Points, this is written as 3/3), and as the gymnast travels down the horse, he must do 2 Russians (720º). Typically, the gymnast will initiate the first Russian as he reaches over the first pommel, finish the first Russian in the middle, and then initiate the second Russian as he reaches over the second pommel, finishing on the opposite end with both hands on the leather.

The Wu is slightly harder than the Tong Fei, so it's an E.

Russians 201: Final Exam


All right, these moves are pretty easy to see in an animated gif, but can you see them in a routine? (I feel like a first grade teacher right now. Afterwards, I promise that you can have a snack and nap time.) Watch Andrey Likhovitskiy's routine from the 2012 Swiss Cup and see if he does any of the traveling Russians.


Did you see them? Yes, "them." He does both a Tong Fei and a Wu. The Tong Fei appears at the 0:16 mark, and the Wu, at the 0:22 mark.


Okay, let's try another one. Here's Luis Sosa's routine from the 2012 Mexican Open. What do you notice?


Did you see his Wu at the 0:12 mark? No? Maybe watch again?

Hmm... Still not seeing it? Well, did you notice anything else? Maybe from Russians 101? (I'd be a terrible teacher if I didn't review.) Immediately after his Wu, he did a Russian 1080º (triple Russian), and at the 0:32 mark he did a Russian 720º (or double Russian).

So many spinny thingies!

Dear Reader,

I hope that I have not lost you. Traveling Russians are more difficult to spot than stationary Russians. (Hence, the label Russians 201 vs. Russians 101.) But I have faith in you, even if you do not have faith in yourself.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, don't worry! I promise there will be more "What the H" posts, which outline the basics. In the meantime, stay tuned for Russians 301!

xx,

Uncle Tim

I'm surprised bloggers haven't created Alexei Nemov "Hey Girl" memes.

1 comment:

  1. OMG after your set for PH I will be able to somewhat recognize skills! PS Uchimura just busted out a triple back off of HB at the Japanese Nationals
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIS6hst6oQU&feature=channel&list=UL

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