Putting to rest Miller vs Gutsu. For now.
Once again we look at a 20-year debate
Once again we’re glad to have a competition like this to look at
It was the closest Olympic AA championship ever: Shannon Miller vs. Tatiana Gutsu; the free world vs the recently free but still perilous world; the squirrelly little blonde vs. the squirrelly little Christian Scientist blonde. Who really won?
I think it’s cool how, when there is a controversy over who between two girls won a medal, most gym fans totally bypass the judges, as if their opinions didn’t mean shit. The Miller/Gutsu debate is a good example of this. It has been argued back and forth for more than 20 years – and nobody gives a crap what the judges decided. All we care about is what WE decided.
I have a proposition for everybody: watch the video below, and then re-think what you thought about Miller/Gutsu. Starting at 2:00, Shannon prepares for what will be the best vault ever performed in the history of gymnastics. For this 10.00 vault, the judges give her a 9.975 and stripped the medal from her.
We gym fans know it was a 10.00 vault, so we calculate that into the total score. Shannon and Tatiana came into the AA vault, their fourth rotation, with Shannon behind by .037. Had Shannon’s first vault (only the best one of the two counted) been scored what it was worth, a 10.00, and Tatiana’s scored what it was worth – 9.950, Shannon would have won by .013.
In the video above, after all the vaulting is done, the music (Enya) stops, and we see a silver medal on the red-white-and-blue jacket of Shannon Miller – right after we’ve watched the four vaults that proved to us that Shannon was the Barcelona AA champion.
This is not to knock Tatiana (who I look like and love), but it is to say that Shannon was robbed of a medal, just like the great Khorkina was robbed in 2004. The good thing about Shannon was, she took it all in stride. She prayed to her God and got clear on it, and she moved ahead to the best years of her gymnastics career.
Shannon turned it up
Shannon OWNED 1993/1994. I believe that in these two years, she was the best gymnast on earth. What a pleasure she was to watch – dedicated, committed, no ego, no hype.
In 1993, Shannon won the All-Around gold at the World Championships as well as gold on Bars and Floor. She won the U.S. National title along with silver on Vault, gold on Bars, bronze on Beam, and gold on Floor.
In 1994, she repeated as World Champion and took gold on the Beam. She placed second in the All-Around (after black Dawes) at the U.S. Nationals and took silver on every event final, while Dawes took gold on all of them. Of course it was a fluke and biased judging, but let’s just remember Shannon for the class act she was.
Notice in the fluff video below how Shannon was always a perfect little lady – discreet, humble and cute, and notice how she never said her mother was “prego,” God fucking help us. How far we have sunk!
Actually Shannon’s reign began in 1991, at the World Championships. That’s where the entire world realized that she was going to have to be reckoned with for years to come. Less than a year later, did she beat Tatiana? The judges say no. Many fans say yes. But in the long run, it doesn’t matter, because those two gave us something we’ll always remember:
Grace, poise and class like we haven’t seen since and sure as hell haven’t seen in the last few quads. Those days are gone, and we can only look back upon them and remember what it was like when the “A” in WAG stood for “Artistic” and not “Acrobatic.”
Finally, Shannon in a minor competition in 1993. She does the beam well, but look at her when she runs to her coaches. What a decent, appreciative, non-mouthy child. That’s another thing that’s gone forever from USAG.
And finally FINALLY, here is the best first vault ever performed again, because it deserves to be repeated.
For someone like Shannon, the class doesn’t end when you quit gymnastics. It’s permanent. Go Shannon!