Ginger Pop: Russian Diva Swans

Gymnastics is one of those high profile events that draws people in, even those who normally wouldn’t care. London proved especially engaging for Americans as our girls took home the team gold for the first time since Atlanta. I got a bit misty during the medal ceremony (as opposed to Atlanta where I hugged my friends and bawled–the sight of Bela Karolyi carrying injured Kerri Strug to receive her medal still turns on the waterworks). However, as much as I love our American athletes, I have an obsession with Russian Female Gymnasts. Why? So glad you asked.

  1. The make up. American girls generally go for that girl-next-door, Mary Lou Retton look (note Gabby’s tasteful blush). Not the Russians. They cake on the eye make up like they are preparing for an editorial shoot in Vogue instead of flipping themselves over a big table. This particular Olympics, Aliya Mustafina seems to be modeling her look on Barbra Streisand’s leopard coat look from Funny Girl. Also, where else are you going to find girls who still load their hair with glitter?
  2. The floor routines. I’m old fashioned, I suppose, but I don’t dig quirky floor routines. I like a little fluidity and grace. The Russians are trained in ballet and it shows. Their floor routines are beautiful as well as impressively athletic.
  3. The drama. Remember when you were a kid and you learned about being a good sport? That never happened with these girls. They pout, they cry, they swoon. They are Anna Karenina–dramatic, lovely, and tragic, even when they are happy. Their coaches try to comfort them and they wave them away because their suffering is to great for some giant man in a track suit to understand.
  4. Sveltlana Khorkina. If that name means something to you, you know why she is the ultimate reason to adore Russian gymnasts. She embodies all those previously listed elements and takes them to eleven. That she competed in three Olympics in a sport that favors teenagers tells you what an amazing athlete, determined woman, and, yes, diva, she really is. Seriously, Google Russian Diva Gymnast. Her name is the first on the list.

    Bring it on.


    What about you, readers? What’s your Olympic obsession?