In honour of the late, great Kurt Thomas who made the Flair famous, I’m reposting some history.
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I am devastated for the loss of my friend and gymnastics icon Kurt Thomas. I will not only remember him for the incredible contributions, innovative skills and personality he brought to the sport as an athlete but for the kindness, leadership and focus on teamwork he displayed every day during our years of touring. Beckie, I wish I could be there to give you a huge hug. My prayers are with you, Kurt, Kassidy and Hunter. #legend
Phillippe Delasalle from Canada was often credited for introducing the “Flair” after he showed it in international competition in Russia 1975. Soviets called it Delasalle for decades following.
Kurt Thomas unveiled his “Thomas Flair” variation (Flair Czechkehre Flair) in 1976. (… or was it 1977?)
But most agree it was Ted Marcy and others from Hinsdale High School in Chicago who invented the Flair.
Donny Gardiner who was on the Hinsdale team back then recalls “the guys” playing around with different ideas to transfer from circles into pendulum swings. It was a ‘scissor break’ that evolved into the Flair over time.
(Donny recalls that Marcy was the first they knew of to reach vertical on scissors, as well.)
Todd Gardiner, Donny’s brother, recalls that Ted did the ‘Marcy flair‘ in High School competition which consisted of just the split into scissor break. By college (1972) Ted was training full flares, but Todd’s not sure when (exactly) he first competed them.
At the Midwest Open in either ’74 or ’75 Ted competed against Hoffman & Slezak from Hinsdale, among other greats, and fell very early in the routine. As Midwest didn’t allow for a remount, Ted smiled, saluted, then got back up and threw a fun routine including an exaggerated full Marcy Flair and other wild stuff. The crowd went nuts.
Click PLAY or watch some Collegiate Championships 1976. on YouTube. A number of the competitors use variations of scissor break and Flair. Ted competed for Stanford.
Joel Ulloa who ended up competing for Cal State Fullerton was working on Flare in the ’70s too. You might recall the IG magazine photo sequence of the ‘Ulloa Break’.
So who invented the Flair?
I’m guessing the first full Flare was most likely done first at Hinsdale by 1972 or 1973. In training. At the time Ted Marcy was the best of the guys playing around with it. Hoffman and Slezak may have competed a full Flair even earlier in local competitions.