WINTERSAULT – Wednesday’s Wordapod

Have you ever felt that gymnastics should be a winter Olympic sport – and also held outdoors? Crazy idea? Wait, till you read my interview with legendary, former soviet gymnast Ludmilla (Gordeevaskayarenko) Martinez.



If you like “Wintersault”, you will also love the 250-plus creative Wordapods to be found in Wordapodia, Volume One: An Encyclopedia of Real Fake Words. 




Wintersault (n) – a tumbling motion executed outdoors in extremely cold weather


Sample Sentence:  With the gymnasium closed for inclement weather, Rachel turned some beautiful wintersaults in the snow.



You Know What…?


Outdoor gymnastics is not a well-known sport here, but it used to be quite popular in the former Soviet Union. A friend of mine told me about an unbelievable outdoor gymnast named Ludmilla Martinez, who I had the honor of interviewing. While speaking with her, I had to suppress the urge to say “wow” about 100 times. Here’s some of our conversation.


Matt:  Ludmilla, you were once described as Russia’s greatest ever outdoor gymnast. Is that true?


Ludmilla:  I don’t know, but I do know that I won every meaningful outdoor competition ever held in my country. Did you ever hear of Olga Korbut?


Matt:  Yes. She was amazing.


Ludmilla:  Okay, I beat the Little Flea every time we competed. She hated that nickname by the way. Olga was 4-foot-nothing, and I stood nearly 6’9” tall—gargantuan for a gymnast—yet I was much more graceful.


Matt:  So, why didn’t you compete in the 1972 Olympics, when Olga was winning all those gold medals?


Ludmilla: I hate indoor gymnastics!  Real gymnasts compete in snow, ice, and wind, where it is more difficult. Indoors is for the faint of heart.


Matt:  Do you resent the fame that she and some of the other Russian gymnasts have achieved?


Ludmilla:  Resent? No, I stand by my decision. But, I do hate Olga for stealing my boyfriend, Anatoly.


Matt:  So, why did such an, um, big lady like yourself gravitate toward gymnastics?


Ludmilla:  Other sports were not a challenge. I averaged 35 points per game as the center for the Soviet Olympic basketball team. Hockey? I was a bone-crushing defenseman who dominated men. You ever hear of Vasily Alekseyev?


Matt:  Yes. The legendary Olympic weightlifter?


Ludmilla:  Okay. I defeated him in arm wrestling five years in a row. But, gymnastics was my passion.


Matt:  Did you have a favorite apparatus?


Ludmilla:  I excelled in all of them, but I loved the balance beam. An official balance beam is only 10 centimeters wide, you know. Well, I petitioned our Wintersault Federation to narrow it to 8.5. That’s all the room I needed to do my splits and back handsprings. They denied my petition. Is there anything else you’d like to know?


Matt:  Ludmilla, your last name is unusual for a Russian athlete. Is your background mixed, like that of another great Russian gymnast, Nellie Kim, who was half-Korean?


Ludmilla:  No, both my parents were born in Belarus, as were their parents. My maiden name is quite long—Gordeevaskayarenko. Almost as long as me. After I lost my Anatoly for good, I moved to the U.S. and married an American guy. I willingly gave up my maiden name, although the last names of my three boys are hyphenated.



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