In the final chapter of "Gymnastics' Greatest Stars," that well-made but now rather campy 90-minute video about the birth of modern artistic gymnastics, moderator Kathy Johnson-Clarke talks about the lack of one shining star in gymnastics in 1990, but notes that since Mary Lou Retton's golden victory in 1984, "there have been moments when what seemed like the outer limits have been pushed back a little further."
It's been almost 25 years since that video came out -- its most recent clip is China's Li Li breakdancing on the balance beam at the 1990 World Cup -- but that line about the outer limits still feels relevant today, as applications like Instagram make it possible for gymnasts to show the world what they're working on in the gym, even if we may not see these skills in competition anytime soon. With that in mind, here are five recently published videos likely to wow even the most seasoned gymnasticshead:
1. Marta Pihan-Kulesza, POL, full-twisting Steingruber off beam: The inventive 27-year-old, a two-time Olympian, keeps coming up with new ways to be cool. She has a sassy new floor routine to "The Pink Panther" (watch it here) complete with Arabian double front to punch front second pass. She came to the World Championships last year with a skrillex cut -- the most un-gymnast hairstyle you could imagine -- and looked awesome. She's 27, for goodness sake, and keeps upping the ante with her skills. And she's conjured up this beaut of a beam dismount to possibly replace the badass running double front that she used to do.
2. Kenzo Shirai, JPN, Yurchenko 3.5 vault: Nobody's ever done it in competition before, but if someone's going to, there's almost no doubt it will be him. Watch here and be awed.
3. Shang Chunsong, CHN, Floor: OK, so Shang Chunsong will probably never have the charisma of a Svetlana Khorkina on floor exercise, but there are a couple of things to celebrate about her new routine, like a) This time she's not portraying a gunslinger in the Old West, and b) Her first two tumbling runs are Serious Gymnastics. A lot can go wrong when you do a 1.5 through to triple full to immediate punch front, and she performs it beautifully. Ditto the 3.5 twist, something that's only been landed by a handful of gymnasts at the World level (Patricia Moreno, Aliya Mustafina and McKayla Maroney are the only ones who jump immediately to mind). Watch the routine here.
4. Sae Miyagawa, JPN, Floor: You might have heard of her as "the girl who does the double layout as her last pass on floor." She'll be Japan's representative at the Youth Olympic Games this week. Check out her floor here.
5. Dipa Karmakar, IND, Produnova vault: Yes, it's relatively scary to watch. Yes, it's debatable whether she should even be trying it. But Karmakar proved that she can land a Produnova, making her only the second gymnast to do so since the great Yelena Produnova did it at the World University Games in 1999. The outer limits, indeed.