The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

2017-2020 Code of Points: A Deep Dive

The 2016 Olympics are officially behind us. I know that because I’ve already reached the point where it took me a second to remember who won men’s floor. I want to say…Herb?

Rio is old news. Our shiny new toy is the next quadrennium in all its inevitably grotesque horrors (and also beauty?). The first step in preparing for a new quad is pretending like you’re actually going to remember what all the code changes are, even though you will absolutely think the Amanar is still a 6.3 for at least 3 more years. Like a loser.

Thankfully, the 2017-2020 code has already been bestowed upon us (a couple times). The latest version will be considered up to date until such time as Her Nellieship decides that it’s garbage again.

With our new holy book in hand, let’s review the major and minor changes worth caring about and decide exactly how probably terrible they’re all going to be.

Hooray!

Item #1: WE ARE THE FINAL FOUR (composition requirements)

As with the Olympic teams in the 2020 quadrennium, five becomes four in the realm of composition requirements as well. Our trusted 5 CRs have been reduced to four, lowering the total composition requirement from 2.50 to 2.00.

Obviously, you say, they finally got rid of that worthless, hideous, and frankly disturbing passage-of-dance-elements requirement on floor!

Ah ha ha. Heavens no. That would make too much sense. Rigor mortis running must be protected at all costs!

Instead, the requirement for a D-level dismount has been removed for bars, beam, and floor.

Verdict: Perfectly acceptable. Ideally, it will encourage greater dismount variety (particularly on bars, where it is much needed) as there will be no real punishment for competing a C dismount other than its being worth a tenth less than a D. No double-jeopardy CR punishment as well.

This change is mostly for the benefit of the lower-level elites (and Romanian bars), allowing them to remain slightly more competitive with simpler dismounts. It will have no immediate effect on the routines of the top gymnasts, other than forcing everyone to get accustomed to D scores that are 0.5 lower.

Next quad, a D score in the high 5s will be good again, and any D score in the 6s will be top-of-the-line.

The following language has also been removed from the code’s discussion of difficulty scores, likely because it’s just blabbering nonsense with no meaning or influence whatsoever (aka 92% of the code of points):

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That actually means less than nothing.

Item #2: So…a meter is a lot

I haven’t seen this part discussed as much, but the old “shoulder-width” deduction language for determining what constitutes a 0.3 step…

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…has been replaced by “1 meter.”

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That’s a big difference. Landing deductions will get much softer in the new quad, with many more landings qualifying for 0.1 and only the largest bounces receiving a 0.3 deduction.

I’m not happy about this. Landing deductions should be significant and their influence over the score should be heightened, not lessened.

The only positive here is the more exact specification that “1 meter” provides. It’s a finite distance, as opposed to “shoulder-width,” which is inexact and arbitrary.

Item #3: It’s pumpkin time, Spinderella

The women’s technical committee has noticed your spinning trend, and they have put a wall in your face.

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No quintuple spins for you, Lieke!

And for the rest of you, no quadruple wolf turns or 1.5 twisting Ferraris. Don’t even think about it. And I know you were, YOU MONSTERS.

I’m in favor this cap. Let’s stem the tide of overreliance on turns for massive difficulty and, especially, of split leaps where you just try to wrench around as many Raggedy-Ann twists as possible before hitting the ground.

Sure, this turn restriction may be a little Dutch-racist, but the WTC was cognizant of that and added this concession to make up for it:

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I could definitely see the Dutch/Mustafinistas taking advantage of this. Directly connecting the “same” D-level turn for double difficulty and connection value? SO ON IT.

With regard to evaluating turns on floor, note that this language has suddenly disappeared:

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Item #4: Vault

  • Vault values

In an effort to remain consistent with the 0.5 decrease in D scores on the other events, the D scores on vault have been lowered (almost, kind of) accordingly.

Here are the new values of the major vaults:
Handspring rudi – 5.8 (from 6.2)
Produnova – 6.4 (from 7.0)
Tsuk full – 4.8 (from 5.2)
Tsuk 1.5 – 5.2 (from 5.5)
Tsuk 2/1 – 5.6 (from 6.0)
Tsuk 2.5 – 6.0 (from 6.5)
Yurchenko full – 4.6 (from 5.0)
Yurchenko 1.5 – 5.0 (from 5.3)
Yurchenko 2/1 – 5.4 (from 5.8)
Yurchenko 2.5 – 5.8 (from 6.3)
Yurchenko 1/2 on, layout 1/2 – 5.2 (from 5.6)
Yurchenko 1/2 on, layout full – 5.6 (from 6.0)
Yurchenko 1/2 on, layout 1.5 – 6.0 (from 6.4)

These adjustments are the usual amount of wonky for the Women’s Technical Committee, with some vaults decreasing 0.3, others 0.4, others 0.5. Normally, I would be incensed by this inconsistency, but the decreases are uneven because the vault values were stupid and erratic to begin with and had to be fixed to make them uniform.

In the new code, the WTC has finally established regular 0.4 increments for adding half-twists to vaults across the various families. Phew. No one has to ask what a TTY will be valued (6.2), or what a 1/2 on, layout 2/1 would be worth (6.4). We know already because the difficulty increases are consistent, regimented, and predictable.

The largest decrease in value goes to the Produnova at 0.6, a blatant attempt to discourage people from performing it (or making finals after falling on it) that I think we can all get behind.

The only real problem here is that by decreasing vault D scores the same amount as the D scores on the other events (if even that in several cases) the WTC has done nothing to address vault scores being so much higher than scores on the other events. They’ll remain so—and vault will remain the most important event to be good at as a result—until something is done about execution scores, which consistently verge on being a point higher than those on beam and floor.

  • The Karmakar downgrade

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  • The Skinner deduction

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Such an honor for these two gymnasts to be subtweeted in the Code of Points. Few receive such recognition.

I will miss Butt-a-Prods exactly none.

Item #5: Uneven bars

  • The “don’t be a clear-hip whore” rule

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The 2020 code is cracking down on the overuse of a single family of bars elements. For those who don’t speak scribbly, example 1 describes a clear hip shoot to high bar, clear hip full, Hindorff, clear hip tuck full dismount. The fourth (not necessarily connected or consecutive) backward clear-hip skill would not receive credit. Same with stalder, toe-on, and piked stalder skills. Gymnasts must vary their non-giant entries.

I have no problem with this. It keeps routines from becoming intolerably repetitive. My original comment was that it wouldn’t affect too many gymnasts, but (and thanks to Michael in the comments for pointing this out) there are gymnasts like Hernandez who will have to change their compositions not to rely on stalder entries quite so much. They can’t count more than three backward stalder elements in the ENTIRE routine, not just in a row.

The weirdest thing about bars in the new code is that the CV permutations haven’t changed this time. IT’S A MIRACLE.

  • The “connect yo shaps” rule

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OUCH. The deduction for empty swing is 0.5. This is going to get fugly, isn’t it? OH GOODY.

  • Skill values

The most significant and applicable changes to our lives come to the values of jaegers and giengers.

The piked jaeger is now an E, while the straddled jaeger remains a D. Expect LOTS of piked jaegers next quad. LOTS. If you haven’t already learned one, you’re too late. Just quit. Accordingly, the layout jaeger is also up to F from E. This should encourage more variety in jaegers, which is a positive, though the idea that a mo salto is now worth only one tenth more than a layout jaeger…

The layout gienger is also now an E, differentiating it from the piked version, which is still a D. Showing a layout shape in a gienger is way harder and should be rewarded, but ugh, now we have to bother to try to tell the difference between layout and piked giengers. That’s a pain because all attempts at a layout gienger are at least somewhat piked, even Nastia’s…

Continuing the trend of things being too late for Nastia, the double front 1/2-out dismount is now an E. The piked version is up to an F. I always thought it strange that the 1/2-out had the same value as the double front.

In “like anyone would even do it” news, the round-off arabian over the low bar to catch the high bar mount (!!!!!) is now F instead of E, and the piked version is G instead of E. The number of people performing it remains constant at zero.

Also, in the realm of transition shoots, counter-movement from low bar to high bar is being differentiated from hecht flight now with different values.

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Did you know that a Church and a toe-on shap 1/2 used to be the same number in the code? I didn’t. And also…why? Anyway, that has been fixed.

Item #6: Balance beam

  • The “you can’t just do a whole routine of turns, Sanne” rule

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Departing from the “maximum 5 acro, minimum 3 dance” vocabulary of the past, the WTC has introduced a minimum acro-skill requirement on both beam and floor in an effort to protect against routines becoming constructed entirely of dance elements.

Correct. There must be a balance, and a truly impressive routine displays skill in both categories. In particular, floor routines without sufficient tumbling are anemic and uninteresting, regardless of how delightful the performance quality may be.

  • The “connecting into a Patterson seems hard” rule

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Connection bonus for two-element dismount combinations (e.g., round off + Patterson) has returned, provided the dismount is an F.

This essentially means that an F dismount is worth three tenths more than an E dismount now, one tenth for the skill value and two tenths for the connection. Anyone even remotely capable of upgrading from a double pike will be doing so immediately.

I don’t really have an opinion on this one either way.

The exception allowing for 0.1 CV for non-rebounding forward C+D connections is also gone. Down with non-rebounding forever!

  • The “everyone please do a switch 1/2 + back pike” rule

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The 0.1 series bonus introduced last quad has now been expanded to include dance elements as well.

In theory, this is a good idea. Why should connection be limited to skills of the same style? Connecting dance to acro allows for all the skill types to be integrated together in less-repetitive combinations of skills.

In practice, however, it will be a catastrophe. We all know what’s coming. It has already started. We’ll be completely overrun by even more wild and horrendous attempts at three-skill acro+dance combinations that gymnasts will try to pass off as series. The pausing. OH DEAR GOD THE PAUSING. Walkover+switch+back pike. Onodi+switch 1/2+sheep. Side aerial+life support+switch 1/2.

  • The “goodbye punch front + wolf jump” rule

To make sure combinations like switch+back tuck aren’t over-rewarded, however, the individual CV for C+C(mixed) combinations is gone. Now, either both skills must be dance or one skill must be a D.

The D salto + A dance experiment has also been abandoned.

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I’m more than OK with that. All those A dance elements weren’t adding anything to the routines.

  • The “would you be interested in some more vague and nonspecific artistry requirements that are impossible to apply?” rule

Great! You’re in luck!

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Nothing.

  • Skill values

The split leap 1/1 is now an E instead of a D. Hooray for more people trying to wrench those around and landing 1/4 turn short! The switch side 1/2 is also up to an E.

Meanwhile, the sheep jump is decreasing from D to C. That’s a weird one. It didn’t get any easier in the last year, so presumably this is an attempt to encourage more variety because the WTC feels it’s performed too often. Eh. Sure, I hate sheep jumps, but it wouldn’t have been high on my list of changes.

To pair with the downgrade, the guidelines for evaluating sheep jumps have been softened, with more errors being classified as 0.1 deductions rather than automatic no-credit.

The WTC is DONE with your gainer layouts. The regular gainer layout dismount is down to a C and the full twist is down to a D. The double twist from Jurkowska-Kowalska had a prospective G, so presumably that would be down to an F as well.

In “something is better than nothing” news, the 2.5 wolf turn is now a D, along with the double. The turn must be a triple to receive E value. I’m all for downgrading wolf turns, but won’t this just encourage more people to attempt the triple?

Many, many twisting jump variations have also increased a tenth, with split, straddle, straight, tuck, cat, and pike jumps all trying to rise above their station. Did we really need more of this? Does a tuck jump full really need to be a C?

The Worley (falling on a jump mount to high bar Onodi to two feet) is now an E, up from D. I’ve always wondered why we don’t see that skill more. Maybe this will encourage it.

As for other changes, the half twist to back tuck has been raised to F, the true ballet-y tour jete—as differentiated from the split 1/2—is now a D (the split 1/2 remains a C), and a number of rolls have been upgraded from B to C.

One-tenth increases in mount values are all the rage. The triple flare is now D (though the WTC still hasn’t learned that spelling it “flair” makes exactly zero sense for people who know what words mean). Many difficult acro mounts are being better rewarded for their difficulty, and several of the easier mounts have also increased by a letter in a desperate attempt to try to encourage more variety and less terribleness. In response, everyone went, “That’s nice, dear. [Squat sit].”

Item #7: Floor exercise

  • The “we’re still making you use a CD?” rule

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Hand your LP to Nellie Kim…

I also really enjoy the instructions on how to best communicate with the technical committee.

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Electronic mail. Facsimile.

What year is it?

  • The “no more orphan aerials for you” rule

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Yeah. Get your random trash aerial off my lawn!

The CR for the forward salto now requires it to occur in an actual acro line and not be an aerial. A+.

  • That’s not a leap

Thankfully, this language—added in the 2014 code update—has been removed:

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That was BS to begin with, so I’m glad it’s gone.

  • But we also feel bad for China

Even though it’s the exact same idea, just with acro instead of dance, this stipulation for under-rotated saltos remains in the code:

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Sigh.

China is like, “PHEW! More 2.75+front tucks for EVERYONE!”

  • The “OK, fine, the stork stands weren’t awesome” rule

Praise be! The language about not standing on two feet more than once in preparation for a tumbling pass is gone:

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It has been softened to this:

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That’s very nonspecific, which is a pet peeve of mine, but I’ll definitely take it in this case if it means we’re not being quite as strict about how people stand before their tumbling passes because WHO CARES?

  • Skill values

Fewer changes were made to the values on floor, though one thing that did stand out is switch leaps and switch sides being the same number in the code now, meaning you can’t do a switch 1/2 and a switch side 1/2 in the same routine and get credit for both. Why? Not really seeing that one. It’s the same for splits and straddles. Can’t do a split 1/2 and a straddle 1/2 in the same routine.

Also, nothing was done about the floor wolf turns. Just…

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In tumbling, the layout double arabian is now a H, up from a G. Just in case anyone was thinking about doing it. Which they weren’t.

Item #8: Element names

OMG Nellie Kim hasn’t retroactively named any new elements after herself! WHAT IS THIS LIFE?

But still, no one has ever fixed the spelling of “Chelsia Memmel.” Aww, that’s our WTC.

Item #9: Various random nonsense

  • This extremely helpful glossary

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“Expressiveness: Serving to express. Boom. Nailed it. Next.”

  • Grip-break do-over

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  • BE MORE ELEGANT

This isn’t a change; I just adore COP nonsense like this.

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WHAT IF IT ISN’T ELEGANT WHAT WILL WE DO.

Also, they can’t even bother to spell Chellsie Memmel correctly, but they sure have a lot of very specific guidelines about how your butt should look. You know, the important stuff.

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Imagine a judge out there with a ruler measuring distance below the base of the buttocks.

  • The “Take Your Time, You Massive Disappointment” Rule

Previously, if a bars routine didn’t resume 30 seconds after a fall, the routine was considered finished. The same with beam, but after 10 seconds. Now, not resuming in time is a 0.3 deduction instead of DISQUALIFIED. So charitable.

The routine is considered terminated only if it does not resume 60 seconds after a fall.

  • And…my favorite part of the COP

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FLAWLESS I TELL YOU.

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