The homogenization of routines. It happens throughout gymnastics at all levels, but one of the most compelling criticisms of the current elite code is that it has accelerated and broadened this process, leading to routine after routine featuring the same few skills.
The following chart shows the frequency with which each uneven bars skill appeared in American routines during the 2012 Visa Championships. It includes only skills of C difficulty or more (to dispense with the likes of Giant – 100%) with the exception of the toe shoot to high bar because I am specifically interested in the frequency of the low-to-high transitions that we have (all negative three of them).
Skills are listed according to the percent of routines in which they appeared in the competition and are sorted by the frequency of their appearances in senior routines. The junior routines and total frequency throughout all 44 routines (21 senior, 23 junior) are also included for the sake of comparison.
The chart includes all skills performed more than once in either the junior or senior division. The following skills appeared in one routine in either or both sessions:
Stalder circle forward
Toe-on circle forward 1/2
Clear hip full
Clear hip Shaposhnikova
Piked stalder shoot to high bar
- Note that the nemesis of all that is joyful in the world, the bail handstand + stalder shoot combination for .1 CV, certainly makes its mark on the table. Score one check mark for the new code for eliminating the value of that D+C combination in 2013, at least for high-to-low flight. [Pipe dream] This will result in the immediate and severe reduction of stalder shoots with respect to other possible low-to-high transitions [/Pipe dream]. [Reality] The US will continue performing worthless bail + stalder shoot combinations until 2014 Worlds, after which they will copy the smarter composition of a lesser country [/Reality].
- Even though the bail and the stalder shoot were the two most common skills in both the junior and senior divisions, I actually thought the numbers would be higher. They would have been higher earlier in the quad, but enough people had become wise to the Shaposh 1/2 treasure trove of CV that not every single person was using the stalder shoot anymore. Just two-thirds.
- CV is also the prime culprit for the frequency of the toe full, which appears just as often as the bail in the senior ranks. The skill would often appear on the low bar right before a Shaposh 1/2 for .2 CV. Now that both elements would need flight to achieve the .2, we may see a slight decline in the prevalence of the skill, but since it’s still a solid D element that can get .1 for any number of combinations, it should still remain fairly common. Instead of the toe full + Shaposh 1/2 combinations, though, we will see many more attempts at Pak + Shaposh 1/2 to try for the .2 connection.
- I’m pleased that the code is trying somewhat to suppress the routines with hyper pirouetting by forcing more flight in connections, but I never had a problem with the D+E (one element with flight) combination receiving .2 CV. The ideal routine shows proficiency in both turning and flight elements, so it seems that something like a toe full + piked Tkatchev combination is exactly the kind of thing that we should be encouraging because it shows true mastery of several facets of bars in the same connection. That the combination is now .1 instead of .2 seems unnecessary to me.
For easy reference, here is the same information broken down by skill type:
- Let’s talk about this last area and how there are only two skills in it. Believe it or not, there are more transitions from high bar to low bar in the world (but not that many). The tyranny of connection value has made them all but disappear. The bail wins, but several gymnasts do show both in the same routine.
- One person in the whole competition did a clear hip Shaposh. Everyone else did toe-ons. Interesting.
- I sorted the table by seniors because that gives the truest picture of how the code was being used by people who were truly trying to use it. Unsurprisingly, the junior routines feature simpler skills, more C circle elements without turning and fewer D pirouettes, Shaposhes (Shaposhi?), and E same-bar releases. Many of the juniors, especially on bars, are given routines that are much more concerned with simply getting 8 skills and the requirements into a hit performance. Using the code and exploiting CV to its best effect are the least of their concerns. This is a major reason for the senior difference between the stalder shoot and toe shoot (67% to 19%) being so much larger than the junior difference (69% to 60%). The seniors don’t have interest in throwing in some B element. Many more juniors also start on the low bar and do both in the routine, while that is very rare for seniors.
Once the 2013 season has ended, it will be interesting to do this for the routines from this year and view the effectiveness of the code changes for this quad through the prism of skill frequency.