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Stretching Out: A Holiday Gymnastics Wish List
(13 votes, average 3.62 out of 5)

It's that time of year again when the spirit of giving fills our hearts. So I hereby present a brief wish list for the gymnastics world.

Code of Points

I really hope the 2013 version of the Code solves some serious issues. I keep hearing that the execution score might be doubled, to dilute the difficulty score, but that's just adding another step to the equation. FIG President Bruno Grandi wants simplicity, and there is an easier way to lessen the importance of difficulty.

Since there are hundreds of gymnastics skills of varying degrees of difficulty, it's time to expand the categories to accommodate them more accurately. So instead of doubling the E-score, the difficulty values should be cut in half. A-skills are worth .05 instead of .10, B-skills are .10 instead of .20, and so on. This achieves two goals: it lowers the overall D-score and creates more room to assign the correct value to a growing list of skills. For example, how can a tucked double-twisting double tuck (E, .50) on floor be worth the same as a 2.5-twisting tucked double? One is obviously harder than the other. There are numerous other examples in the current Code.

Limit the Roll-outs

I do not like the full-twisting front-1.75 roll-out that nearly knocked out Yusuke Tanaka at the Tokyo worlds, especially when it's done after something tricky like a 1.5-twisting back. When the punch angle is off by a few degrees, there is little margin for error. I hope the FIG is taking a hard look at skills like this. Six-pass routines on a time restraint is the perfect storm for serious injury right now. And many gymnasts are choosing multiple roll-out skills to avoid landing deductions.

Impose a Skill Limit

Danell Leyva won the world title on parallel bars with a total of 10 skills. Defending champion Feng Zhe, who placed seventh, did 23 skills. Should a set of rules allow such routines to coexist? Shouldn't they encourage efficient routine construction? Again, here is where artistic gymnastics can learn something from trampoline, which requires 10-skill routines with no repetition.

Three-Step Approach

If every gymnast learned to tumble from the beginning with a three-step approach into his or her roundoff, we'd see a lot fewer out-of-bounds infractions. Too many gymnasts take four, or even five, steps (Jordyn Wieber, Alicia Sacramone, Lauren Mitchell, Yao Jinnan, et al.), which leaves little room at the end of the tumbling run, especially when a punch layout front is tacked onto the end.

These extra steps are usually out of habit and really don't contribute to the final skill(s) in the pass. And in a routine that is supposed to be a performance, they are visual clutter.

Ksenia Afanasyeva won the world title on floor with powerful tumbling, and she used an efficient three-step approach.

It's a subtle detail, but something I always notice when I watch floor routines. It's also something that is hard (but not impossible) to change late in a career. If I am not mistaken, years ago it used to be a deduction to take more than three steps for men. For the record, Valeri Liukin took three steps into his historic triple back.

Stocking Stuffer

We included a poll in our special December world championships issue about whether Kohei Uchimura was the greatest male gymnast of all time. The opinions from various generations were enlightening to say the least. Results-wise, we seem to have already forgotten that Yang Wei won three consecutive major titles: two worlds and the Olympics. Also, Viktor Chukarin sandwiched two Olympic crowns around the 1954 world title. I don't think Yang was as good as Uchimura (not even close), but it's difficult to compare generations.

I think the venerable Abie Grossfeld put things in perspective when he quoted Christopher Columbus: "It's easy when someone shows you how." Grossfeld also recalled the accomplishments of various gymnasts that many of us have never seen in action.

Personally, I think Uchimura is fantastic, but superlatives are too unforgiving. That said, I will always remember the beauty, power and precision of Dmitry Bilozerchev, whose first world title came at age 16, in 1983. But I'm not saying either is the greatest of all time.

On that note, who is the greatest female gymnast of all time?

Happy holidays.

Comments (6)add comment

Alison Clements said:

My Christmas wish would be for gymnasts & their coaches to think carefully about their choice of floor music. Is it a piece of music that the audience and judges will respond to? Does the music suit the gymnast? Can she perform dance that will interpret it - or will the music just be background noise? Is the overall effect that those watching wish the routine would never finish ... or is it a routine that they can't wait for the final tumble so the next gymnast can start?

If the answer is yes to the first two, and yes to the first parts of Q3 and Q4 ... then the Olympic floor final should be a treat to watch.
December 06, 2011
Votes: +6

DowisK said:

Some Thoughts
Personally, the steps taking in floor tumbling should not really matter and gymnasts in compularies are taught and expected to only take 3 steps plus a hurdle or they get deducted, Alica and Jordyn take 4 steps then a hurdle and it is only when adding the front layout to an end of a pass that the gymnast incures the issues of going out of bounds is they are not straight, they was alot of crooked tumbling at the worlds in Tokyo, which makes one thing was the floor mat no centered properly. Also, I would like to see the new cold of points to go back to allowing female gymnasts to take the controlled lunge step at the end of the tumbling pass which makes the routine more artistic and if they chose to stick a pass cleanly i think they should recieve maybe a tenth of bonus, but they should not be penalized for it.
December 06, 2011
Votes: +9

kat said:

Cutting the D-score in half is not the same as doubling the E-score and it will not help. We will have the exact same problems we have now, the scores will just be lower overall. Gymnasts are simply trying to get the highest D-score possible, so cutting the D-score in half simply lowers everyones score by the same margin. The best solution really would be to return to the 10.0 because having a ceiling on the score automatically limits how much a gymnast can use difficulty to make up for execution errors.
December 07, 2011
Votes: +1

HEY said:

Yang Wei beat Kohei Uchimura in 2008 Olympics, don't forget that
December 08, 2011
Votes: -1

Cat said:

The Code already does encourage efficient routine construction?!
I don't understand the point about limiting skills. Efficient routine costruction is already naturally encouraged through the cap on the number of counting skills. Anyone who's performing long routines is an idiot who's just giving the judges unnecessary opportunites to take execution deductions. :-/
December 08, 2011
Votes: +0

dragonair said:

bring back compulsories, and combine scores from compulsories with any other final.
for TF it should be compulsories scores + scores from team finals
AA = compulsory score + AA score.
EF = compulsory score + EF score.
that's the perfect way to make balance between artistry and difficulty and to stop ugly gymnastics to win just because there is a big difficulty. also - I want TF to be 6-5-4 format, and for TC + TO scores combined to be criterion to qualify to AA and EF.

and I agree about the steps in the WAG at the end of the tumbling pass, they should allow them to take that "artistic" step and only give bonus if the pass is completely stuck, not to penalize taking the step if the pass looks controlled.
December 09, 2011
Votes: +5

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