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1969 European Championships WAG

1969: Karin Janz Dominates at the Women’s European Championships

Gymnasts from nineteen countries traveled to Landskrona, Sweden to participate in the European Championships on Saturday, May 16, 1969 and Sunday, May 17, 1969.

The stars of the 1968 Olympics — Čáslavská, Petrik, Voronina, Kuchinskaya — did not attend (or had retired), which gave 17-year-old Karin Janz a chance to shine and win four of the five gold medals. 

Datum: 23.05.1969 Copyright: imago/Werner Schulze Karin Janz (DDR) während des Trainings; Quadrat, Geräteturnen 1969, Kunstturnen

Results | Competition Report | Video

Results

Note: On the men’s side, each country could send three gymnasts to the European Championships in 1969. But on the women’s side, there were only two gymnasts per country. 

The All-Around: Top 20

GymnastCountryVTUBBBFXTotal
1. Janz,
Karin
GDR9.8009.8009.4509.60038.650
2. Karaseva,
Olga
URS9.6009.6509.2509.60038.100
3T. Tourischeva,
Ludmila
URS9.6009.6009.2009.50037.900
3T. Zuchold,
Erika
GDR9.7009.6009.2009.40037.900
5. Košťálová,
Jindra
TCH9.2009.2009.3509.55037.300
6. Lundquist,
Marie
SWE9.2508.8008.8509.25036.150
7. Lišková,
Hana
TCH9.3008.4009.1009.30036.100
8. Apăteanu,
Rodica
ROU9.4009.2508.5508.65035.850
9. Holm,
Rose-Marie
SWE9.3008.9008.6008.55035.350
10. Bánfai,
Ágnes
HUN9.3009.2007.8508.90035.250
11. Krauser,
Imri
FRG8.6009.1508.3509.05035.150
12. Dornea,
Felicia
ROU9.2008.4508.5508.90035.100
13. Marinova,
Vania
BUL9.0009.2007.6009.10034.900
14. Bellák,
Erzsébet
HUN8.8008.7008.4008.85034.750
15. Stegemann,
Marie Luise
FRG9.0008.8507.4009.10034.350
16. Bourdiau,
Nicole
FRA8.6008.7507.7009.15034.200
17. Trangbaek, ElseDEN8.8508.4507.8509.00034.150
18. Holmen,
Unni
NOR9.2008.1507.8008.85034.000
19. Braathen,
Helga
NOR9.0008.5507.3508.80033.700
20. Alberti,
Angela
ITA8.4008.9507.9508.30033.600

Vault

GymnastCountryQual.FinalTotal
1. Janz,
Karin
GDR9.8009.90019.700
2. Zuchold,
Erika
GDR9.7009.75019.450
3. Karaseva,
Olga
URS9.6009.80019.400
4. Tourischeva,
Ludmila
URS9.6009.55019.150
5. Apăteanu,
Rodica
ROU9.4009.60019.000
6. Lišková,
Hana
TCH9.3009.50018.800

Uneven Bars

GymnastCountryQual.FinalsTotal
1. Janz,
Karin
GDR9.8009.85019.650
2. Karaseva,
Olga
URS9.6509.80019.450
3. Tourischeva,
Ludmila
URS9.6009.80019.400
4. Zuchold,
Erika
GDR9.6009.70019.300
5. Apăteanu,
Rodica
ROU9.2509.40018.650
6. Košťálová,
Jindra
TCH9.2007.35016.550

Balance Beam

GymnastCountryQual.FinalsTotal
1. Janz,
Karin
GDR9.4509.60019.050
2. Karaseva,
Olga
URS9.2509.70018.950
3. Košťálová,
Jindra
TCH9.3509.40018.750
4. Tourischeva,
Ludmila
URS9.2009.50018.700
5. Zuchold,
Erika
GDR9.2009.30018.500
6. Lišková,
Hana
TCH9.1009.35018.450

Floor Exercise

GymnastCountryQualsFinalsTotal
1. Karaseva,
Olga
URS9.6009.85019.450
2. Janz,
Karin
GDR9.6009.80019.400
3. Tourischeva,
Ludmila
URS9.5009.60019.100
3. Košťálová,
Jindra
TCH9.5509.55019.100
5. Zuchold,
Erika
GDR9.4009.60019.000
6. Lišková,
Hana
TCH9.3009.40018.700

Competition Report

Setting the Stage

The Soviet newspaper Известия (Izvestia) reported:

The competition of European Graces, in which athletes from 19 countries took part, attracted, according to some newspapers, even more attention from the Swedes than the recent Stockholm Ice Hockey World Championship. Buses with tourists rushed to Landskrona from all over Sweden.

Izvestia, May 19, 1969

Состязания европейских граций, в которых приняли участие спортсменки из 19 стран, привлекли, по мнению неко­торых газет, даже большее внимание шведов, чем недавний стокгольмский чемпионат мира по хоккею с шайбой. Со всех концов Швеции в Ландскруну устремились автобусы с туристами.

My thought bubble: There could be a little hyperbole thrown in there. In fact, the Romanian newspaper Sportul reported otherwise:

[D]espite the fact that the organizers took special measures to increase the capacity of the Sports Hall, mounting additional stands, yet on the first day of the competition there were… many empty seats. There is, of course, an explanation: the golf competition, a sport so beloved by the Swedes.

Sportul, May 18, 1969

[A] deschis întrecerea, printr-o scurtă alocuţiune,  în ciuda faptului că organizatorii au luat măsuri speciale pentru mărirea capacităţii Sălii sporturilor, montînd tribune suplimentare, totuşi în prima zi a competiţiei au fost… multe locuri goale. Există fireşte o explicaţie : concurenţa golfului, sport atît de îndrăgit de suedezi.

The Head Judges

The international federation has already designated the team leaders on the apparatus: floor: Taisia ​​Demidenko (U.S.S.R.); bars: Käthe Wiesenberger (Austria) ; beam: Jaroslava Matlachová (Czechoslovakia) and Valeria Nagy-Herpich (Hungary); vault: Andreina Gotta (Italy) and Ellen Berger (G.D.R.).

Sprotul, April 14, 1969

Federaţia internaţională a desemnat deja şefele de brigăzi pe aparate : sol : Taisia Demidenko (U.R.S.S.) ; paralele : Käthe Wiesenberger  (Austria) ; birna : Jaroslava  Matlachova (Cehoslovacia) şi Valeria Nagy-Herpich (Ungaria) ; sărituri : Andreina Gotta (Italia) şi Ellen Berger  (R.D.G.).

Karin Janz’s Victories

Janz’s vault was the pièce de résistance.

Karin entered finals with a 9.80, the highest starting value from the all-around competition. Her two vaults were precision work. Especially the first — like a picture book. The hall went wild for the first time when the rating appeared: 9.90 — the highest rating of the entire competition.

Neues Deutschland, May 19, 1969

Denn nun kam Karin, mit 9.80 den hüchsten Ausgangswert aus dem Mehrkampf mitbringen. Ihre beiden Sprünge waren Millimeterarbeit. Vor allem der erste wie aus dem Bilderbuch. Die Halle tobte zum ersten Male los, als die Wertung erschien: 9.90 — die höchste Wertugn des gessamten Wettkampfes überhaupt.

There was consensus that Karasova was better on floor than Janz.

Janz’s only silver came on floor. East German newspaper Neues Deutschland asked Erika Zuchold for her opinion on Janz’s floor routine. This is what she said:

“The title deservedly went to the Soviet cup winner Karasova. Karin has wonderful tumbling passes, but she still lacks the pleasing manner of presentation, the grace of presentation. The Soviet gymnast has a lot ahead of her. Her tumbling still leaves something to be desired.”

Neues Deutschland, May 19, 1969

“Der Titel ging verdient an die sowjetische Pokalsiergerin Karassjowa. Karin hat zwar herrliche Sprungreihen aber ihr fehlt es an der gefälligen Vortragsweise, in der Anmut der Darbietung noch. Da hat ihr die sowjetische Turnerin einiges voraus, deren Sprünge wiederum noch zu wünschen übriglassen.”

My thought bubble: Janz’s triple butterfly series was beautiful, but her tumbling was even more impressive. We’ll discuss that below.

The Dutch newspaper had a similar assessment:

On the last event, however, the floor exercise, Karin Janz met her match in Olga Karasova (Russia), who was superior in presentation and springiness: 19.40 against 19.45 points. So it ended with four golds and one silver for Karin Janz.

Het vrije volk, May 19, 1969

Bij de laatste oefening echter, de ‘kür’, vond Karin Janz in de in preisentatie en springkracht superieur Olga Karassewa (Rusland) haar meesteres: 19,40 tegen 19,45 punten.  Het bleef dus bij viermaal goud en een keer zilver voor Karin Janz.

Nevertheless, Janz was deemed to be the Gymnastics Queen of Landskrona.

The difference [on floor] was very small: 0.05 points. Karin won silver and, with it, her fifth medal. One called her the gymnastics Queen of Landskrona. Queen or not. She wears the gymnastics crown rightly and proudly for all her modesty.

Neues Deutschland, May 19, 1969

Die Differenz war denkbar knapp: 0.05 Punkte. Karin holte Silber und damit ihre fünfte Medaille. Einer nannte sie dei Turnkönigin von Landskrona. Ob Königin oder nicht. Die Turnkrone trägt sie mit Recht und sicher voller Stolz bei all ihrer Bescheidenheit.

A Letter from Walter Ulbricht

The chairman of the State Council of the GDR, Walter Ulbricht, sent the following congratulatory letter to four-time European gymnastics champion Karin Janz: “Dear Karin Janz! It is with great pleasure and special recognition that I congratulate you on your outstanding success at the European Women’s Gymnastics Championships in 1969. The four European championships that you have achieved testify to your high level of athletic ability, determined work, and exemplary motivation for the glory of your socialist homeland. May your triumph at Landskrona be an incentive for you to reach new achievements and successes in your sporting and personal life. With all my heart, I wish you all the best.”

Neues Deutschland, May 20, 1969

Der Vorsitzende des Staatstrates der DDR, Walter Ulbricth, übermittelte der vierfachen Turneruopameisterin Karin Janz folgendes Glückwunschschreiben: “Liebe Karin Janz! Mit grosser Freude und besonderer Anerkennung gratuliere ich Ihnen zu Ihrem überragenden Erfolg bei den Turneuropameisteerschaften der Damen 1969. Die vier Europameistertitel, die Sie errangen, zeugen von hohem sportlichem Können, zielstrebiger Arbeit und vorbildlichem Leistungswillen zum Ruhme der sozialistischen Heimat. Möge Ihnen Ihr Triumph von Landskrona Ansporn sein zu neuen Leistungen und Erfolgen in Ihrem sportlichen und persönlichen Leben. Hierzu wünsche ich Ihnen von Herzen alles Gute.”

Tourischeva’s Beam Routine

Once again, Berthe Villancher, President of the Women’s Technical Committee, interceded when Valerie Nagy, Vice President of the Women’s Technical Committee, was the superior judge on balance beam.

At the 1968 Olympics, the intercession resulted in a score increase for Čáslavská.

At the 1969 European Championships, it resulted in a score decrease for Tourischeva.

Here’s what the Dutch newspaper Het vrije volk reported about Tourischeva’s beam routine during the all-around competition:

On [vault] and also on the balance beam, the 16-year-old Russian Ludmilla Tourischeva took more risk.

But this resulted in minor flaws and loss of points. However, with her daring program, Ludmilla Tourischeva set the standard for the future. Karin Janz had luck on her side on the balance beam. Ludmilla Tourischeva had every chance of success with a score of 9.35 points (against 9.45 for the East German) for her all-around beam routine.

Minutes after the announcement of the score, the president of the technical committee of the FIG, Mrs. Villancher from France, intervened for inscrutable reasons to lower the total to 9.20 after a dispute with the Hungarian jury president, Mrs. Nagy… The Russian was so upset by this, and she didn’t finish higher than fourth place.

Het vrije volk May 19, 1969

Op dit onderdeel en ook op de evenwichtsibalk waagde de 16-jarige Russische Loedmilla Toertitsjewa veel meer.

Maar dit had schoonheidsfoutjes en puntverlies tot gevolg. Met haar gedurfde programma stelde Loedmilla Toertitsjewa echter de maatstaven voor de toekomst op. Op de evenwichtsbalk had Karin Janz het geluk aan haar zijde. Loedmilla Toertitsjewa had met ‘n waardering voor de eerste oefening van 9,35 punten (tegen 9,45 voor de Oostduitse) nog alle kans op succes.

Minuten na de bekendmaking van de waardering greep de presidente van de technische commissie van de internationale turnbond, mevrouw Villancher uit Frankrijk, om onnaspeurbare redenen in om na een dispuut met de Hongaarse jurypresidente mevrouw Magy het totóal tot 9,20 te verlagen… De Russische raakte hierdoor zo van slag af en zij kwam toen niet verder dan de vierde plaats.

Reminder: Tourischeva had a history of struggling on balance beam. At the 1968 Soviet Nationals, she received an 8.60 on beam (Izvestia, May 28, 1968). At the 1968 Olympics, Tourischeva scored an 8.45 on her optional beam routine.

The Romanian press suggested that Tourischeva had many execution problems:

In sports gymnastics, the quality of the execution is at the forefront today, and Tourischeva and Karassova (to refer only to the top gymnasts), were deducted because, although they had routines with many elements of great difficulty (9 Cs, in Tourischeva’s beam), their posture and execution were not always up to par.

Sportul, May 24, 1969

In gimnastica sportivă, calitatea execuţiei se află azi pe primul plan, iar Turişceva şi Karasiova (ca să ne referim numai la vîrfuri), au fost depunctate pentru că, deşi au avut execuţii cu multe elemente de mare dificultate (9 C-uri, la bârna lui Turişceva), ţinuta şi execuţia lor nu au fost întotdeauna la înălţime.

The Soviet Union

Pessimism before the European Championships

After the Soviet Cup in April of 1969, the newspaper Izvestia struck a pessimistic note and set readers’ expectations low:

After all, only two gymnasts from each country participate, and our recognized leaders – N. Kuchinskaya and L. Petrik are sick. Time will tell whether they will be able to enter the sports form for the European Championship, but for now, among the participants of the Cup, with the exception of L. Tourischeva, there is no equivalent replacement.

Izvestiia ,  No.100, April  26, 1969

Ведь от каждой страны участвуют только по две гимнастки , а наши признанные лидеры —Н . Кучинская и Л . Петрик больны. Сумеют ли они к первенству Европы войти в спортивную форму , покажет время , а пока среди участниц Кубка , за исключением Л . Турищевой , равноценной замены нет.

In fact, the real stars of the 1969 Soviet Cup were the juniors, who had even more impressive skills than the seniors:

When all the medals were handed out, the performances of the young gymnasts took place.

Frankly speaking, after the whole championship, it was the most memorable sight.

V . Tikhonova from Volzhsky (coach V. Panfilov), M. Gordeeva from Moscow (coach N. Mayburov) and especially N. Dronova from Tbilisi (trainers S. Burjanadze and V. Klimova) showed such exercises that Z. Voronina, who was present, exclaimed: “If only we could learn a few of these elements!”

Izvestiia,  No.100, April  26, 1969

Когда были разыграны все медали , состоялись Выступления юных гимнасток
Откровенно говоря , после всего чемпионата , это было самое запоминающееся зрелище .

В . Тихонова из Волжского (тренер В . Панфилова) , М . Гордеева из Москвы (тренер Н. Майбуров) и особенно Н . Дронова из Тбилиси (тренеры С . Бурджанадзе и В . Климова) показали такие упражнения , что присутствовавшая на трибуне З. Воронина воскликнула: «Вот бы и нам научиться нескольким таким элементам!»

Optimism after the European Championships 

Despite the pessimistic tone before the European Championships, Izvestia struck a more optimistic tone after the competition was over. The Soviet gymnasts were cast as the rising stars:

However, the championship in Landskrona showed that our renowned gymnasts have a worthy replacement. Olga Karaseva and Ludmila Tourischeva, who, by the way, turned sixteen on the opening day of the competition,* were called “rising stars” by the local sports commentators.

Izvestiia ,  No.116, May  19, 1969

Однако первен­ство в Ландскруне показало, что наши, прославленные гимнастки имеют до­стойную смену. Ольгу Карасеву и Люд­милу Турищеву, которой, кстати, в день открытия соревнований исполни­лось шестнадцать лет, здешние спор­тивные обозреватели назвали «восходящими звездами».

*This is not true. Tourischeva’s birthday is October 7, 1952. She turned 16 right before the 1968 Olympic Games.

Checking in with Romania

In April of 1969, 14-year-old Felicia Dornea won the National Team selection competition. Former national champion Rodica Apăteanu was the runner-up.

În aprilie, un concurs de selecție pentru echipa națională a României, organizat în noua sală din orașul Gheorghe Gheorghiu Dej, a fost câștigat de Felicia Dornea, în vârstă de 14 ani, de la Bacău, antrenată de Marina și Mircea Bibire. Ea a fost urmată de ex‑campioana națională Rodica Apăteanu (antrenată la Dinamo de Emilia Liță și Petre Miclăuș), și de Elisabeta Turcu (antrenoare Elena Sima).

Emanuel Fântâneanu, Inscripții pe columna gimnasticii românești 

Both Dornea and Apăteanu competed at the European Championships where they finished 12th and 8th respectively. At the previous European Championships in 1967, the top all-arounder was Elena Ceampelea, who finished 17th. So, the 1969 competition was a marked improvement, especially after not sending any gymnasts to the 1968 Olympics.

Dornea reportedly felt awkward being the youngest competitor:

[Dornea] is the youngest competitor present at the current edition of the [European Championships]. She is only 14 years old. This makes her extremely emotional, feeling rather awkward when she has to repeat before or after the real stars of gymnastics from the continent and even from the globe.

Sportul, May 17, 1969

[Dornea] este concurenta cea mai tinără prezenţă la actuala ediţie a C.E. Nu are decit 14 ani. Asta o face să fie şi extrem de emoţionată, să se simtă destul de stingheră cind trebuie să repete înaintea sau după adevărate stele ale gimnasticii de pe continent şi chiar de pe glob.

Video Footage

Here’s some footage from the event. In my commentary below, I’ll highlight specific skills and routines.

Janz on UB: Female gymnasts were trying to figure out how to bring elements from men’s high bar to the uneven bars. In Janz’s bar routine, you can see an early attempt at an Endo circle (like a forward Stalder).

Tourischeva on UB: In 1966, when Doris Brause performed a cast handstand, it was rare. Fast forward three years, and casting to handstand had become more common.

Also notable: Tourischeva added the Burda twirl to her routine, following in the footsteps of her teammate.

And you have to admire the amplitude in this routine, especially on skills like her sole circle ½ to beat on the low bar. The height on the release!

Karaseva on BB: Watching beam at this point in time is fun because there wasn’t a standard way of dismounting the beam like there is today. Karaseva’s gainer back tuck was often highlighted as a unique skill in the media.

FX: Listen to the routines with the sound on. You can hear the wood of the double swing floor.

Tourischeva on FX: The sudden snap of her head at the beginning of this routine gets me every time.

Tourischeva’s tumbling was on par with many of the male gymnasts at that time. In 1968, many Japanese male gymnasts were performing back fulls into immediate back handsprings as an opening tumbling pass. And those same Japanese male gymnasts dismounted with a back full.

Janz on FX: Like Tourischeva, Janz could tumble as well as the men. Her front handspring front tuck through to a back full was special, and like Tourischeva, she also did two back fulls in her routine.

Karaseva on FX: As was noted in the newspapers, Janz didn’t have confidence in her choreography. Her music was, more or less, decoration for her tumbling. Karaseva, on the other hand, added emotion to her performance, which, in the end, won her the gold medal on floor.


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