1970 WAG World Championships

1970: The Women’s Competition at the World Championships

The 1970 World Championships are often overshadowed by Čáslavská and Kuchinskaya’s rivalry in 1968 and by Korbut’s pyrotechnics in 1972. But the competition in Ljubljana was exciting in its own right.

First, there was the changing of the guard. Czechoslovakia was once the Soviet Union’s biggest rival. But East Germany assumed that position in 1970, and at one point in the competition, it seemed like East Germany might win team gold.

Second, the all-around competition was thrilling. The title was Karin Janz’s to lose, and well, unfortunately, she ended up losing it during the final rotation.

Let’s take a look at what happened…

Turn-Weltmeisterschaft in Ljubljana, Siegerehrung Mannschaft, UdSSR auf Platz 1, Sinaida Woronina, Larissa Petrik, Ljubow Burda, Tamara Lasakowitsch, Ljudmila Turischtschewa, Olga Karasewa

Quick Links: The Basics | Historical Context | Gymnastics Context | Video | Soviet TV | Floor Music | Judging Assignments | Team | All-Around | Event Finals | Additional Quotes

The Basics

Location: Ljubljana, Yugoslavia
Opening Ceremony: Thursday, October 22, 1970
WAG Compulsories: Friday, October 23, 1970
WAG Optionals: Sunday, October 25, 1970
Event Finals: Tuesday, October 27, 1970

Historical Context

  • Apollo 13 launched on April 11. On April 13, an oxygen tank exploded, leading to the sentence: “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”
  • Dan-Air Flight 1903 destined for Barcelona crashed, killing all 112 people on board.
  • The Moscow Treaty was signed by the Soviet Union and West Germany. The two countries pledged non-aggression.
  • In November, The Miss World Beauty pageant was disrupted when a group of feminists stormed the stage at the Royal Albert Hall.
    • This event contrasts sharply with the comments made by the Women’s Technical Committee, which are quoted below.
  • In 1970, East Germany abandoned its Economic System of Socialism (ESS), in which the country invested heavily in industries like electronics, chemicals, and plastics with the hope of exporting these products and leaping ahead of western countries.
  • After the Prague Spring of 1968, Czechoslovakia underwent a process of “normalization.
    • That process included, among other things, the re-establishment of centralized control over the economy, the revocation of laws that were enacted by the reform movement, and the reinstatement of the power of police authorities, which led to an atmosphere of distrust and fear.
    • Between 1968 and 1970, it has been estimated that 170,000 people left the country.
    • In order to cleanse the Communist Party of reformist elements, 70,000 were expelled (while another 400,000 were removed from the list of members).
    • For more, see Vladimír Kusin’s From Dubček to Charter 77.

Other cultural touchpoints:

  • Billboard’s top song of 1970 was “Bridge over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel
  • The Academy Award for Best Picture went to Midnight Cowboy.
  • The Beatles released Let It Be, and, shortly thereafter, Paul McCartney announced that he was leaving the group.
  • Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin died of overdoses.

Gymnastics Context

  • Reigning World Champions (1966)
    • Team: Czechoslovakia
    • All-Around: Věra Čáslavská
    • Vault: Věra Čáslavská
    • Bars: Natalia Kuchinskaya
    • Beam: Natalia Kuchinskaya
    • Floor: Natalia Kuchinskaya
  • Reigning Olympic Champions (1968)
    • Team: Soviet Union
    • All-Around: Věra Čáslavská
    • Vault: Věra Čáslavská
    • Bars: Věra Čáslavská
    • Beam: Natalia Kuchinskaya
    • Floor: Věra Čáslavská and Larisa Petrik
  • All-Around Results of the European Championships (1969)
    • 1st: Karin Janz
    • 2nd: Olga Karaseva
    • 3rd: Ludmilla Tourischeva
  • University Games Champion (1970): Larisa Petrik
  • Another important tidbit: At the 1970 FIG Congress, the women’s technical assembly voted to lower the competitive age to 14. (More here)
  • Reminder: There was supposed to be a qualifications process for the 1970 World Championships, but it fell through due to politics. More here.

Video Footage 

You can see a few routines here:

You can find a French broadcast of the event finals here:

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Zuchold on Vault: Her vault was a thing of beauty.

Zuchold performing a beautiful Yamashita

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Tourischeva and Burda on Bars: Both gymnasts did the Burda twirl. (Tourischeva did it cleaner.)

Burda performing the Burda twirl.

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Janz on Bars: One of the skills that set Janz apart was her clear hip. While many gymnasts simply shot backward, Janz took her free hip almost to handstand, setting the standard that gymnasts would try to emulate in the future.

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Marianne Noack on Bars: As you can see, Noack took the clear hip to handstand one step further by adding a half pirouette. Also, this routine was full of difficulty. Check out the full-twisting Tanac salto at the end.

Note: I believe that it is Marianne Noack. It is hard to identify the gymnast in the grainy footage.

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Janz on Beam: Janz performed a combination dismount: back walkover to back handspring to full-twisting layout. Unfortunately, she missed her foot on the back handspring and crashed her dismount, costing her the all-around title.

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Tourischeva on Beam: According to the Code of Points, her series of forward rolls without her hands were considered just as difficult as her back handsprings.

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Christine Schmitt on Beam: When you watch Tourischeva’s beam routine, you’ll notice that a 180° split wasn’t required on leaps. Schmitt pushed the envelope by not only doing a switch leap but showing a near-180° split. Plus, she added a little originality by doing a gainer back handspring. (Petrik also did a gainer.)

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Cathy Rigby on Beam: Save for the hop on the landing and the press to handstand during the swing through front walk-over, Rigby’s routine in finals was one of the cleaner routines. 

Interestingly, neither of the top two gymnasts on beam (Zuchold and Rigby) performed a handspring. Perhaps it’s not surprising given that Villancher, the President of the Women’s Technical Committee, was against performing more difficulty than necessary.

A Note about Soviet Television

The victories of the Soviet team and Tourischeva were a big deal, partly because the competition aired on television.

TV coverage of the World Championships was repeatedly mentioned in the Soviet press. For example:

The main event of the last sports week was the event that glued us to the TV screens, forcing us to follow with excitement the grandiose gymnastic competition that took place on the podiums of Ljubljana’s Tivoli Hall.

Nedelia, Oct. 26, 1970

Главным в минувшей спортивной неделе было событие, которое приковало нас к экранам телевизоров, заставив с волнением следить за грандиозным гимнастическим концертом, растянувшимся на помостах люб­лянского «Хала-Тиволи».

Perhaps television was frequently mentioned because 1970 was the year when the majority of Soviet homes had TVs:

While it wasn’t until 1970 that the majority of Soviet homes had TVs, many households got them much earlier—and not only wealthy ones. In 1955, a visiting American marveled at houses that sagged in the mud but were equipped with TV antennas.


Here’s a Soviet piece that ran after the 1970 World Championships:



Announcer: Lyudmila Tourischeva, 18-year-old Soviet athlete, all-around world champion in artistic gymnastics. She began her career in big-time sports in the city of Grozny with Vladislav Rastorotsky, Honored Coach of the USSR. Already [when she was] a student of the 8th grade, Luda won a lofty [00:00:30] award – the Cup of the Soviet Union. This year in Moscow, on the eve of the World Championships, our coaches selected all the elite of Soviet gymnastics to the national team of the country. 

Our girls faced a tough fight for the championship. The last workouts were underway. [pause 00:00:59] [00:01:00] 

And here is the Yugoslav city of Ljubljana, the famous sports palace Tivoli Hall. More than 400 strongest gymnasts of the world enter the competition. [00:01:30] The main contenders for the victory were the athletes of the GDR and the Soviet Union. This is the medalist of the Olympic Games in Mexico City, Erika Zuchold, East Germany. European Champion Karin Janz, GDR.

It’s our girls’ turn. [00:02:00] Zinaida Voronina. In the all-around, Voronina took third place, a bronze medal, and a prize for the most elegant participant in the championship. A balance beam exercise performed by Larisa Petrik. [00:02:30] An insidious apparatus, a difficult nut to crack for all gymnasts. This time Larisa has a bronze medal. Floor exercises are the main trump card of Ludmilla Tourischeva. [00:03:00] The last apparatus final of the World Championship competition.

[pause 00:03:07] The judges gave Tourischeva a high score. A worthy end to the World Championships – a gold medal. The Soviet gymnasts won the team event.


Диктор: Людмила Турищева, 18-летняя советская спортсменка, абсолютная чемпионка мира по спортивной гимнастике. Свой путь в большой спорт она начала в городе Грозном у Владислава Растороцкого, заслуженного тренера СССР. Уже ученицей 8-го класса Люда завоевала высокую [00:00:30] награду — кубок Советского Союза. В этом году в Москве наши тренеры накануне чемпионата мира отобрали в сборную команду страны весь цвет советской гимнастики.

Нашим девушкам предстояля трудная борьба за первенство. Шли последние тренировки. [пауза 00:00:59] [00:01:00]

И вот югославский город Любляна, знаменитый спортивный дворец Hala Tivoli. В борьбу вступают более 400 сильнейших гимнасток мира. [00:01:30] Главными претендентами на победу считались спортсменки ГДР и Советского Союза. Это призер Олимпийских игр в Мехико Эрика Цухольд, ГДР. Чемпионка Европы Карин Янц, ГДР.

Наступает очередь наших девушек. [00:02:00] Зинаида Воронина. В многоборье у Ворониной третье место, бронзовая медаль, и приз для самой изящной участницы чемпионата. Упражнение на бревне, выступает Лариса Петрик. [00:02:30] Коварный снаряд, трудный орешек для всех гимнасток. На этот раз у Ларисы бронзовая медаль. Вольные упражнения — главный козырь Людмилы Турищевой. [00:03:00] Последний вид состязаний чемпионата мира.

[пауза 00:03:07] Судьи дали Турищевой высокую оценку. Достойное завершение чемпионата мира — золотая медаль. В командном зачете победили советские гимнастки.

Floor Music

According to the October 27, 1970 edition of Gudok, the Soviet gymnasts performed to the following songs:

  • Petrik — Music from “Carmen”
  • Karaseva — “Russian Kaleidoscope”
  • Burda — “Toccata”
  • Voronina — “Oriental Dance”
  • Tourischeva — Dunaevsky’s “Weekend March” from Circus

According to the October 26, 1970 issue of Neues Deutschland,

  • Janz — Kasatschok

Judging Assignments



Head Judge: Berger
Lemheny (HUN)
Vláčilová (TCH)
Weinberg (ISR)
Oliva (CUB)
Madsen (DEN)


Head Judge: Matlochová
Ivanova (URS)
Medvezky (CAN)
Ivanova (BUL)
Orrensgo (SWE)
Esquerdo (ESP)


Head Judge: Nagy
Rakić (YUG)
Dietz (GDR)
Ono (JPN)
Fallon (AUS)
Pinkass (ISR)


Head Judge: Demidenko
Bottcher (FRG)
Rakoczy (POL)
Simionescu (ROU)
Carter (USA)
Orrow-Whiting (GBR)

Reserve Judges

Madsen (Vault) No. 5
Esquerdo (Bars) No. 5, if Bulgarian absent, no. 3
Pinkass (Beam) No. 5
Orrow-Whiting (Floor No. 5)



Head Judge: Berger
Bartha (HUN)
Kováčová (TCH)
Wich (AUT)
Madsen (DEN)


Head Judge: Matlochová
Ivanova (URS)
Thavaux (FRA)
Personn (NOR)
Orrengo (SWE)
Esquerdo (ESP)


Head Judge: Nagy
Djeorgevic (YUG)
Hlaváček (GDR)
Arakawa (JPN)
Baer (GBR)
Pinkass (ISR)


Head Judge: Demidenko
Bottcher (FRG)
Rakoczy (POL)
Firea (ROU)
Wally (USA)
Orrow-Whiting (GBR)

Reserve judges: the same as those for the compulsory exercises


The chief judges are the same as for the general competition.

Floor – Beam

Vláčilová (TCH)
Hlaváček (GDR)
Thiébault (FRA)
Bartha (HUN)


Latynina (URS)
Arakawa (JPN)
Weiler (CAN)
Uphues (USA)*

Note: Jackie Fie was Jackie Uphues at the time.

Source: FIG Bulletin, No. 2, June 1971

Team Competition

Reminder: There was not a separate team competition. The team rankings were based on the compulsory and optional scores.

The Results

1. USSR380.65
2. East Germany377.75
3. Czechoslovakia371.90
4. Japan371.75
5. Romania364.50
6. Hungary362.80
7. USA360.20
8. West Germany356.85
9. Poland352.90
10. Yugoslavia348.40

11. Sweden 346.25
12. Bulgaria 346.00
13. Canada 344.65
14. France 341.45
15. Norway 340.00
16. New Zeland 335.35
17. The Netherlands 334.65
18. Australia 329.00
19. Great Britain 325.60
20. Cuba 322.85
21. Israel 310.55

The Soviet Union

After compulsories, it was clear that the competition would be between East Germany and the Soviet Union — with East Germany narrowly in the lead after compulsories.

At the “Tivoli” Sports Palace in Ljubljana, the 17th World Championships began with the compulsory exercises for women. As expected, East Germany confirmed its progress by settling at the top of the standings, but with a tiny gap of 0.10 points over its big rival, the USSR. These two nations clearly dominated the first day, relegating defending Czechoslovakia to third place, but at a distance of more than three points.

L’Impartial, Oct. 24, 1970

Au Palais des sports « Tivoli » de Ljubljana, les 17es championnats du monde ont débuté par les exercices imposés féminins. Comme prévu, l’Allemagne de l’Est a confirmé sa progression en s’installant en tête du classement, mais avec un écart infime de 0,10 point sur sa grande rivale, l’URSS. Ces deux nations ont nettement dominé cette première journée, reléguant la Tchécoslovaquie, tenante du titre, à la troisième place, mais avec un retard de plus de trois points.

Compulsory beam was a struggle for the Soviet team.

For them, the balance beam turned out to be a sensitive weak point. Tamara Lazakovich had to leave the apparatus twice and received only eight points. And of all things, the national champions Lyubov Burda had to be satisfied with 8.80 points, which of course represents a burden for the team standings.

Neues Deutschland, Oct. 25, 1970

Für sie erwies sich der Schwebebalken als empfindlich schwache Stelle. Tamara Lasakowitsch mußte zweimal vom Gerät und erhielt nur acht Punkte. Und ausgerechnet die Landesmeisterin Liubow Burda mußte mit 8.80 Punkten zufrieden sein, die für die Mannschaftswertung natürlich eine Belastung darstellen.

A report in Mademoiselle Gymnast adds a bit more color:

Three days later during the compulsory exercises, Tamara Lazakovitch committed the crime of crimes and fell from the beam! She walked back to her seat knowing that 8,000 people were watching her failure, yet in spite of her obvious misery she maintained her self-control and her proud bearing throughout the ordeal. Needless to say, every one of the Russian girls who followed Tamara showed their nervous strain by wobbling and generally performing some very unRussian beam exercises, proving that in spite of all have just said they are capable of succumbing to that bogey of all gymnasts, psychological fear.

Madamoiselle Gymnast, Jan/Feb, 1971

Nevertheless, despite their struggles with the compulsory beam routine, they still were able to pull ahead because East Germany had its own struggles during optional beam, which brings me to…

The East German Team

The East German team was superb during their compulsory bar routines.

Here [on uneven bars] our squad probably reached the highest level of what is currently possible.

Neues Deutschland, Oct. 25, 1970

Hier erreichte unsere Riege wohl das Höchstmaß des gegenwärtig Möglichen.

But they were lacking musicality on floor.

A weak point was found more on the floor, less in the acrobatic rows than in the gymnastic-dance connections, the unity of music and movement, and the use of the entire space. Significant progress has been made with this apparatus compared to other years, but this time our girls could not stand up to the grace of a Tourischeva and Karaseva.

Neues Deutschland, Oct. 25, 1970

Eine schwache Stelle fand man eher am Boden, Weniger bei den akrobatischen Reihen als vielmehr in den gymnastisch-tänzerischen Verbindungen, der Einheit von Musik und Bewegung und dem Ausnutzen des ganzen Raumes. Zwar waren auch an diesem Gerät gegenüber anderen Jahren deutliche Fortschritte zu verzeichnen. Doch kamen unsere Mädchen gegen die Grazie einer Turischtschewa und Karassjowa diesmal noch nicht auf.

Optional balance beam was the East Germans’ downfall.

Ricarda Schmeißer dropped from the apparatus at the beginning, while USSR started with a very good floor gymnast in Lazakovich. And — you can’t fall from the floor. Halfway through the last round, it was already clear that the USSR would win the world championship title and the GDR squad would be runner-up.

Neues Deutschland, Oct. 26, 1970

Ricarda Schmeißer bereits zu Beginn das Gerät verlassen mußte, während bei der UdSSR mit Lasakowitsch gleich eine sehr gute Bodenturnerin antrat. Und — vom Boden kann man eben nicht fallen. Bereits zur Hälfte des letzten Durchgangs war klar, daß die UdSSR den Weltmeistertitel erringen und die DDR-Riege Vize sein würde.


The Czechoslovak team showed great promise on compulsory vault.

Here the experienced Řimnáčová (9.50) and the 17-year-old Soňa Brázdová (9.55), also a newcomer to the World Championships, shone with impressively high flight phases and excellent posture. But this 9.55 should remain the highest rating until the end of the round.

Neues Deutschland, Oct. 24, 1970

Hier brillierten die erfahrene Rimnacova (9,50) und die 17jährige Sonja Brazdova (9,55), auch ein WM-Neuling, mit bestechend hohen Flugphasen und ausgezeichneter Haltung. Doch sollten diese 9,55 die höchste Wertung bis zum Ende des Durchgangs der Riege bleiben.

However, they struggled on beam and floor.

On the balance beam, the judges apparently came to the conclusion that the exercises presented did not do justice to the description down to the smallest detail. There were just as sensitive value deductions for this as for the not uncommon wobbles, so that the overall result of the squad on the beam was six-tenths of a point lower than in the already weak floor exercise.

Neues Deutschland, Oct. 24, 1970

Am Schwebebalken kam das Kampfgericht offensichtlich zu der Auffassung, daß die dargebotenen Übungen nicht bis ins kleinste der Ausschreibung gerecht wurden. Es gab dafür ebenso empfindliche Wertungsabzüge wie für die nicht seltenen Wackler so daß das Gesamtergebnis der Riege am Balken noch um sechs Zehntelpunkte niedriger lag als beim schon schwachen Bodenturnen.

Final assessment: Czechoslovakia had fallen since 1968.

Overall score of the CSSR ranks in the compulsory: 185.30 — in Mexico: 190.20. Difference: 4.90 points. Numbers are incorruptible.

Neues Deutschland, Oct. 24, 1970

Gesamtnote der CSSR-Riege in der Pflicht: 185.30 – in Mexiko: 190,20. Differenz: 4,90 Punkte. Zahlen sind unbestechlich.

Team USA

Like many other teams, Team USA really struggled during the beam compulsories.

The American girls had also had a rough journey on the beam, but their misfortune came from some unhelpful judging. It is significant that the U.S.A. team’s lowest score came from the beam compulsories and their highest from the beam voluntaries. Just why the judges hammered them so hard on this piece is a mystery.

Madamoiselle Gymnast, Jan./Feb., 1971


There were a few missteps. For example, Paula Ioan fell while mounting the beam during compulsories.

Even though Paula Ioan recorded a relative failure (falling while mounting the apparatus), the other members of our team rose to the occasion, especially Lia Ceampelea. With ample, assured movements, with the elegance specific to her, Ceampelea impressed not only the judges (who gave her the highest score of the morning: 9.25), but also the audience, who rewarded her with long applause

Sportul, Oct. 24, 1970

Chiar dacă Paula Ioan a înregistrat o relativă nereușită (cădere la urcarea pe aparat), celelalte componente ale reprezentativei noastre au concurat la înălțime, îndeosebi Lia Ceampelea. Cu mișcări ample sigure, cu eleganța ce-i este specifică, Ceampelea a impresionat nu numai brigada de arbitri (care i-a acordat cea mai mare notă din cursul dimineții : 9,25), dar și publicul spectator, care a răsplătit-o cu îndelungi aplauze.

But all in all, Romania was happy with its performance, especially after the country didn’t send gymnasts to the 1968 Olympics.

Floor exercise brought us new satisfaction, both for the overall performance of the team and, above all, for the way in which Lia Ceampelea performed. She worked flawlessly, with graceful movements of a rare interiority. She was given a 9.55, one of the best scores of the afternoon. The vaults, however, gave us headaches, all the gymnasts failed to land correctly, and the team achieved a poor score in this event. On bars, on the other hand, the whole team once again performed well. The exercises of Olga Ştefan and Elena Ceampelea were received with roars of applause. In this way, the Romanian team, at its new appearance in large-scale competitions, left a beautiful impression, and the place the team occupied in the world hierarchy is completely remarkable.

Sportul, Oct. 26, 1970

Solul ne-a adus noi satisfacții, atît pentru comportarea de ansamblu a echipei, cit și, mai ales, pentru modul în care a evoluat Lia Ceampelea. Ea a lucrat impecabil, cu mișcări grațioase de o rară interiorizare, fiind notată cu 9,55, una din cele mai bune note ale după amiezii. Săriturile, însă, ne-au produs dureri de cap, toate gimnastele n-au reușit să aterizeze corect, echipa realizând un punctaj slab la această probă. La paralele, în schimb, din nou o evoluție la înălțime, a întregii echipe, exercițiile Olgăi Ştefan și Elenei Ceampelea fiind primite cu ropote de aplauze. In acest fel, echipa României, la noua ei apariție în competițiile de mare anvergură, a produs o frumoasă impresie, iar locul pe care l-a ocupat în ierarhia mondială este cu totul remarcabil.

Romania also had the oldest competitor at the 1970 World Championships.

Two of the participating athletes are watched sympathetically by the spectators for their record ages. Maia Blagoieva, from the Bulgarian team, is the youngest competitor (14 years old), while Gheorghe Tohăneanu, the veteran of our team [Romania], is also the oldest of the gymnasts (34 years old).

Sportul, October 26, 1970

Doi dintre sportivii participanți sunt urmăriți cu simpatie de spectatori pentru vîrsta lor record. Maia Blagoieva, din echipa Bulgariei este cea mai tînără concurentă (14 ani), în timp ce Gheorghe Tohăneanu, veteranul reprezentativei noastre, este și cel mai vîrstnic dintre gimnaști (34 ani). 

West Germany

They had made progress, but it was not enough.

Our progress can be clearly seen from the following table, which must be said that Ljubljana was judged much more severely than in Mexico.

Jahrbuch der Turnkunst, 1972

Aufstellung ablesen, zu der gesagt werden muß, daß in Laibach wesentlich strenger gewertet wurde als in Mexiko.
A comparison of scores between the 1968 World Championships and the 1970 Olympics. From West Germany’s Gymnastics Yearbook, 1972.

Fun linguistic fact: Sometimes, Ljubljana is called Laibach in German.

Our team was the only one that scored more points in Ljubljana than in Mexico. The comparison thus clearly shows that we have made good progress, but it also shows that we are still a long way from being the best in the world.

Jahrbuch der Turnkunst, 1972

Unsere Mannschaft war die einzige, die in Laibach absolut mehr Punkte turnte als in Mexiko. Die Gegenüberstellung zeigt somit klar, daß wir einen guten Schritt aufgeholt haben, aber sie zeigt auch, daß wir von der Weltspitze noch sehr weit entfernt sind.

The Gossip

The Yugoslav press reported extensively on the cases of misbehavior among the women’s team of the host country. Olga Rodiei and Ema Naliei were excluded from the team for the fact that, before the start of the world championships, they took a night walk without a “ticket” to Trieste.

Sportul, Oct. 26, 1970

Presa iugoslavă a relatat pe larg despre cazurile de indisciplină din lotul feminin al țării gazdă. Pentru faptul că, înaintea startului mondialelor, au efectuat o plimbare nocturnă, fără „biletde voie“ pînă la Trieste, Olga Rodiei și Ema Naliei, au fost excluse din lotul reprezentativ. 

The All-Around Competition

The difference two years can make: Tourischeva was 24th at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. In 1970, she was number one in the world.

Turn-Weltmeisterschaft in Ljubljana: Ljudmila Turischtschewa (UdSSR) Turn World Cup in Ljubljana Lyudmila Turischtschewa USSR

Top 15 in the All-Around

Reminder: There was not a separate all-around competition. (Two years later, in Munich, there would be an all-around final for the first time at a World Championships or Olympic Games.) The all-around standings were based on the compulsory and optional portions of the competition.

1. Tourischeva,
2. Zuchold,
3. Voronina,
4. Janz,
5. Burda,
6. Petrik,
7T. Matsuhisa
7T. Karaseva,
9. Schmitt,
10. Hellmann,
11T. Noack,
11T. Váchová,
13. Řimnáčová,
14. Hashiguchi
15. Rigby,
Source: Olympische Turnkunst, Dec. 1970; Thanks to Hardy Fink for supplying the results

Janz was leading until she fell on beam, which took her out of the medals.

Finally, the final connection, flip backwards, flic-flak — there was a misstep, a scream of horror and the full-twisting dismount ended with a fall on the mat. The dream of the world champion was over.

Neues Deutschland, Oct. 26, 1970

Schließlich die Abschlußverbindung, Überschlag rückwärts, Flik Flak – da ein Fehltritt, ein Schrei des Entsetzens und der Mühlenabgang endete mit einem Sturz auf die Matte.

According to some, without Čáslavská and Kuchinskaya, the competition fell flat — without a lot of artistry.

There were fewer such emotional moments in this 17th world championships. The absence of Vera Caslavska and Natasha Kutchinskia leaves a huge gap. There were no gymnasts who could match them for sheer artistry and personality. Even the great Ludmilla Turisheva, the world champion, did not infuse deep feeling to the beholder despite her great technical ability and skill, and the Russian team as a whole seemed far too tense to convey their usual relaxed and happy performances.

Although these championships will be remembered as the most highly organized of any and certainly the most enjoyable, there was I feel a dearth of great emotional moments to stamp them as the finest ever. The last decade gave us some of the greatest personalities ever to adorn our sport — Astakova, Latynina, Kutchinskia and, of course, Caslavska. They were all artists of the highest calibre, and each had their own personal charm. Their places will not easily be filled.

Jim and Pauline Prestidge, Madamoiselle Gymnast, Jan/Feb, 1971

A few skills being competed

At present, there aren’t videos online of most of these skills, so we have to imagine what many of the skills looked like:

  • “Brigitte Domski (W. Ger.) — hecht on the LB with a 1/2 twist landing in a stoop on the bar.”
  • “Miyuki Matsuhisa (Jap.) — hecht between bars to an eagle hand on the HB.”
  • “Kathy [sic] Rigby (U.S.A.) — HB, back summi with straddled legs to glide on low bar” [Sounds like a straddled Pak]
  • “Elena Ceampelea (Rum.) — back uprise to hecht vault over”
  • “Unidentified Hungarian — front summi over the bar to a hang on the HB.” [The gymnast was most likely Békési.]

On balance beam:

At present the common trick on beam is the back handspring. Burda did two in a row. There were three aerial walkovers thrown (Keleman, Hungary; Noack, East Germany, and ?) I saw no aerial cartwheels, but they are being done, and I may have just missed them in all the motion. Kadolph on the East German B team does one, and Bujnacova on the Czechoslovakian B team does two in a row. The mounts showed little change. Most were vaults on. Dismounts were more daring — front fulls by Rigby and Matsuhisa; Gleaves does a 1 1/2 twisting front. Janz threw a back handspring full and landed on her hands and knees, which kept her out of the finals, but Turistcheva stuck hers, even though she landed low.

Madamoiselle Gymnast, March/April, 1971

The Event Finals

Reminder: Only six gymnasts qualified for event finals. Qualification for finals was based on the compulsory *and* optional scores on each event.

A gymnast’s final score was the average of her compulsory and optional scores + the score for her routine during event finals.

COA = Compulsory + Optional Average


1. ZucholdGDR9.7509.70019.450
2. JanzGDR9.6509.70019.350
3T. TourischevaURS9.6509.65019.300
3T. BurdaURS9.6509.65019.300
5. VáchováTCH9.6259.65019.275
6. HellmannGDR9.5759.50019.075


1. JanzGDR9.7509.80019.550
2. TourischevaURS9.7509.70019.450
3. VoroninaURS9.6509.65019.300
4T. Némethová-KrajčírováTCH9.5759.70019.275
4T. BurdaURS9.6259.65019.275
6. ZucholdGDR9.6009.60019.200


1. ZucholdGDR9.5009.70019.200
2. RigbyUSA9.3509.70019.050
3T. SchmittGDR9.3509.55018.900
3T. Petrik URS9.3509.55018.900
5. HellmannGDR9.3509.50018.850
6. MatsuhisaJPN9.4758.65018.125

Cathy Rigby competed on an injured ankle.

“I suffered a painful ankle injury during training. In my mind, I could already see the trip to Ljubljana pass me by. After all, doctors helped me get rid of the pain. Those crutches only served to not put unnecessary strain on that ankle. Luckily, I didn’t have any more problems during the matches.”

De Tijd, Oct. 30, 1970

“Ik heb tijdens de training een pijnlijke enkelblessure opgelopen In gedachten zag ik de reis naar Ljubljana al aan mijn neus voorbijgaan. Artsen hebben me tenslotte van de pijn afgeholpen. Die krukken dienden alleen om die enkel niet onnodig te belasten. Tijdens de wedstrijden heb ik gelukkig geen last meer gehad.” 

Cathy Rigby’s silver was the United States’ first medal at the World Championships. But should it have been gold?

It is significant that the U.S.A. team’s lowest score came from the beam compulsories and their highest from the beam voluntaries. Just why the judges hammered them so hard on this piece is a mystery. Cathy Rigby with 9.1 for the set was one of the hardest hit [during compulsory beam], and had this score been higher as deserved, that silver medal might have been a gold!

Jim and Pauline Prestridge, Madamoiselle Gymnast, Jan./Feb. 1971


1. TourischevaURS9.8009.85019.650
2. KarasevaURS9.7259.80019.525
3. VoroninaURS9.6259.75019.375
4. JanzGDR9.5009.70019.200
5. MatsuhisaJPN9.4759.60019.075
6. BurdaURS9.5258.70018.225

Petrik, the Olympic gold medalist, didn’t make floor finals after a conference about her routine.

Petrik, who tied for first in Mexico and should have placed in Ljubljana, was the victim of a judges conference and ended up with a ludicrous 9.55.

Madamoiselle Gymnast, Mar./Apr. 1971

Meanwhile, Burda fell on her back during finals.

Burda fell on her back during a tumbling pass but still managed a sixth-place finish.

Madamoiselle Gymnast, Mar/Apr 1971

Note: There were only six gymnasts in the finals, so the writer might have been trying to make a joke.

That said, the Romanian press thought that Burda had the best composition on floor.

Burda, whose exercise has the best composition of all the ones we have seen here, unfortunately, fell, thus losing the chance to be among the medalists.

Sportul, Oct. 28, 1970

Burda, al cărei exercițiu are cea mai bună compoziție dintre toate cele pe care le-am văzut aici, a căzut din păcate, pierzînd astfel șansa de a se număra printre medaliate.

Ludmilla Tourischeva was the most decorated gymnast of the competition.

Ludmilla Tourischeva, triumphed in the floor exercises. The young Soviet is thus the most successful gymnast of these championships, with three gold medals, one silver, and one bronze.

L’Impartial, Oct. 28, 1970

Ludmilla Turitscheva, triompha dans les exercices au sol. La jeune Soviétique est ainsi la gymnaste la plus titrée de ces championnats, avec trois médailles d’or, une d’argent et une une de bronze. 

It should be mentioned that Zinaida Voronina had an excellent competition, as well: team gold, and bronze medals in the all-around, bars, and floor exercise.

In fact, Voronina was named “Miss Gymnastics” at the 1970 World Championships:

A committee of journalists of the Organizing Committee of the W.C. settled on “Miss Gymnastics 1970.” She is Zinaida Voronina — member of the Soviet team.

Sportul, Oct. 28, 1970

O comisie de ziariști a Comitetului de organizare a C.M. a stabilit pe „miss gimnastica 1970“. Ea este Zinaida Voronina — componentă a echipei reprezentativa a U.R.S.S. 

Quotes about the Competition

Valerie Nagy, the Vice President of the Women’s Technical Committee, was generally pleased:

I can say that I was very pleased with the high level of training of the gymnasts of the leading teams. I judged the participants on the balance beam in Ljubljana. I liked that the leaders’ optional routines were not overloaded with acrobatics — I always oppose this: exercises on balance beam are a very special kind of program that should not be confused with exercises performed on the floor exercise.

Nedelia, Oct. 26, 1970

Могу сказать, что меня очень порадовал высокий уровень подготовки гимнасток ведущих команд. Я судила в Люб­ляне участниц, выступавших на бревне. Мне понравилось, что произвольные программы у лиде­ров не были перегружены акро­батикой — я всегда выступаю против этого: упражнения в равнове­сии — совершенно особый вид программы, который не надо сме­шивать с упражнениями, выпол­няемыми на ковре.

But disappointed in the performance of the compulsory programs.

And it upset me that even the best athletes from the GDR and Soviet gymnasts did not handle the compulsory program well.

Nedelia, Oct. 26, 1970

А огорчило меня то, что даже лучшие — спортсменки из ГДР и советские гимнастки — плохо справились с обязательной программой.

If Nagy could establish a prize at the World Championships, then for what and to whom would she present it?

This is a difficult question. Voronina, Tourischeva, and Burda — each could participate, for example, in a beauty contest, if we decided to announce it. But I, perhaps, would prefer to give the prize to Tourischeva — for a job well done. What she showed on the apparatus [i.e. beam] that I was judging is fantastic! Maybe, despite her unfortunate fall, it was worth giving a special prize to Karin Janz for her great internal discipline.

Nedelia, Oct. 26, 1970

Это трудный вопрос. И Во­ронина, и Турищева, и Бурда — каждая могла бы участвовать, на­пример, в конкурсе красоты, если бы мы решили его объявить. Но я, пожалуй, предпочла бы дать приз Турищевой — за отлично вы­полненную работу. То, что она показала на снаряде, который я судила, фантастически прекрасно! Может быть, несмотря на ее до­садное падение, стоило дать осо­бый приз и Карин Янц за велико­ лепную внутреннюю дисциплину.

Karl-Heinz Zschocke, a member of the Men’s Technical Committee, disagreed with Nagy about the beauty contest.

In any case, it would not be a beauty prize. Our sport is too serious.

Nedelia, Oct. 26, 1970

Во всяком случае, это не был бы приз за красоту. У нас слиш­ком серьезный вид спорта.

Ludmilla Tourischeva’s praise for Erika Zuchold.

I would establish a prize for courage. I would give it to Erika Zuchold, an athlete from the GDR. She amazed me. She had to endure so many injuries. Another gymnast would have given up gymnastics a long time ago, but she found the strength to compete and performed well.

Nedelia, Oct. 26, 1970

Приз я бы учредила за муже­ство. Я бы вручила его спортсмен­ке из ГДР Эрике Цухольд. Она меня поразила. Ей пришлось пе­ренести столько травм, другая давно бы уже бросила гимнасти­ку, а она нашла в себе силы бо­роться и прекрасно выступила.

Reminder: Zuchold tore her Achilles in 1964, and in the spring of 1970, she missed several competitions due to an unspecified injury. For example, during a competition between the Soviet Union and East Germany:

With Erika Zuchold and Maritta Bauerschmidt, two gymnasts from the shortlist, are missing due to injuries.

Neues Deutschland, April 30, 1970

Mit Erika Zuchold und Maritta Bauerschmidt fehlen zwei Turnerinnen aus dem engeren Auswahlkreis wegen Verletzungen.

And Zuchold missed the 1970 East German Championships due to an unspecified injury:

The GDR women’s gymnastics championship was held in Rostock. As expected, Karin Janz easily defended her title in the all-around. The 18-year-old Berlin gymnast’s strongest opponent, Zuchold, could only take a seat in the auditorium due to an injury. Janz (76.95 p.) was followed by Schmitt (76.20) and Noack (75.45). During the individual championships, Janz won three more gold medals, only Schmitt managed to win the championship on the beam.

Népsport, May 30, 1970

Az NDK női tornászbajnokságát Rostockban rendezték meg. A várakozásnak megfelelően Karin Janz az összetettben könnyen védte meg bajnokságát. A 18 éves berlini tornásznő legerősebb ellenfele, Zuchold, sérülése miatt még csak a nézőtéren foglalhatott helyet. Janz (76.95 p.) mögött Schmitt (76.20) és Noack (75.45) következett. A szerenkénti bajnokságok során Janz újabb három aranyérmet nyert, egyedül a gerendán sikerült Schmittnek a bajnoki címet elhódítania.

Berthe Villancher, the President of the Women’s Technical Committee, praised the Soviet gymnasts, particularly their looks.

Reminder: Voronina was named “Miss Gymnastics 1970.”

And in conclusion, an interview with the president of the FIG Technical Committee, Berthe Villancher of France. “Magic Concert,” “Poetry of Movement” — such, in Villancher’s opinion, is the optional program of the new World Champions.

“They are very good-looking: Karaseva, Burda, Lazakovich, and everyone else,” says Villancher. “Zina Voronina, in my opinion, is an almost ideal representative of our sport — elegant, light, graceful, who knows how to do everything perfectly. If only she could increase her speed!”

Gudok, Oct. 27, 1970

И в заключение интервью с председателем технического комитета Международной федерации гимнастики француженкой Бертой Вилланше. «Волшебный концерт», «Поэзия движения» — такова, по мнению Вилланше, произвольная программа новых чемпионок Мира.

– Они очень симпатичны: и Карасева, и Бурда, и Лазакович, и все остальные, – говорит Вилланше. – Зина Воронина, по-моему, почти идеальная представительница нашего вида спорта – элегантная, легкая, грациозная, все умеющая делать отлично. Вот только бы ей еще прибавить в скорости исполнения!

As you can see in both Nagy’s and Villancher’s quotes, looks and appearances mattered in women’s gymnastics in 1970. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that body morphology was written into the Code of Points.

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