The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

The Missing Bars Skill

We have a transition problem.

At this point, the formula for an internationally competitive D-score on bars is abundantly clear. It took a while—a little too long—for everyone to figure it out, but we’re all finally on the same page. Bars is all about alternating E and D flight elements for as many 0.2 CV combinations as possible.

Since those who connect same-bar releases to each other are a rare breed, alternating E and D flight elements means a cloud of E+D+E and D+E+D transition-element sandwiches in order to get the most out of the code.

0.4 CV in the bag. Thank you and goodnight.

The options for creating these combinations, however, are quite limited. That’s a result of a very small number of transition elements overall (and an even smaller number of CV-useful transition elements) with minimal D-valued flight options originating on the low bar. You have Shaposh-style skills, and…that’s it.

That renders the Pak an insanely useful skill to create these 0.4 transition-element sandwiches (see the above combo), but once you’ve used up your Pak, you’ve also used up most of the possible opportunities to rack up those huge CV totals and will be stuck with (shudder) a bunch of pirouette combos for 0.1 in an attempt to drive up the D-score.

When so few skills can be put together in the way that earns significant and useful value (as really only transitions can in the current code-scape), it leads to a lot of repetition and a lot of composition roadblocks and dead-ends.

The value of the Pak (and corresponding lack of value of every other transition) is revealed by the trends in bars composition. Here is how the routine composition of world/Olympic event finalists has changed over the last couple quads.

(Each person counts once–so if you made four finals in a quad, you don’t count as four different people, only for your latest routine.)

The Pak reigns supreme because of the fairly realistic opportunity it provides to connect an E skill into it (Inbar Shap or E-value release) and an E skill out of it (Shap 1/2) for the big 0.4 CV. The Pak is not a roadblock. It goes hand-in-hand with all the Shap elements, which have also skyrocketed after being rare and exclusive as recently as 2008.

The inbar Shaposh in particular has exploded in the last couple years because it, too, is not a roadblock. It’s the only E-valued element from low to high that does not signal the end of the combination. It can comfortably be connected into other D skills, whereas the E-valued Shap 1/2s are the end of the line in a series and (basically) require a cast handstand afterward. (Though I am surprised we don’t see more people attempting dumpy Giengers out of them.)

By contrast to the Pak, the Bhardwaj, Yezhova, and Zuchold are far more difficult to perform while also being less CV-able, but no element has been a bigger loser in terms of skill trends of the last 8 years than the bail handstand, the poster-child for roadblock skills that don’t fit into 0.4 transition-element sandwiches.

After performing the bail, there is no way to get back to the high bar for 0.1 CV, let alone 0.2. The best you can do out of a bail is connect it to a toe-on 1/1 for 0.1, but that only delays the problem. Then what do you do? The bail more or less necessitates the use of a shoot to the high bar that won’t count for D score (the toe and Stalder shoots being the same value as giants now) and will receive zero CV—an entirely wasted skill that adds no value, only incurring deductions.

For the bail to return, there would need to be a D-valued transition from low to high that can be performed directly out of the bail. This skill currently does not exist, but the eventual development of it will be the next major evolution in bars composition, allowing gymnasts a second useful transition in order to prolong their transition combos by multiple skills and squeeze more CV out of their routines (with fewer cast handstands).

The first acceptable solution would simply be the upgrade of the clear-hip hecht with 1/2 turn from the 1992 compulsory bars routine from a C to a D.

The regular clear-hip hecht is already a C, so valuing the 1/2-twisting version at D would be totally justified.

Imagine the useful CV possibilities if a skill like this were a D, performed out of a bail, then connected into a Pak or into elements on the high bar the way gymnasts already do with Shaposh skills (to varying effect).

Inbar Shap (E) + Bail (D) + This (D) + Pak (D) + Shap 1/2 (E) would be the coolest kid in school almost immediately.

If not this, then I’d like to see someone particularly adept at inbar skills attempt an inbar version instead of the clear hip. An inbar hecht 1/2 to HB doesn’t currently exist in the code, but since the inbar Shaposh is worth more than the other versions of the Shaposh, there would be precedent for valuing an inbar hecht 1/2 higher than the clear-hip version and giving it a D.

I hereby call upon a daredevil to add a half twist to this.

(Honestly, this skill itself should be a D, not a C. If the inbar circle is a D, this is a D.)

Otherwise, to invent this D transition, we’re probably looking at having to add a full twist to one of the shoots to get it into the D range, as Cintia Rodriguez has demonstrated.

It’s doable, yes, but the form-deduction possibilities are epic, and it would be massively difficult to connect out of. With everyone at the top of the bars game doing a bunch of D and E skills, skills are really only as valuable as the CV that can be earned from them. The truly valuable skills will garner CV on the way in and CV on the way out.

This one could get CV on the way in, but not on the way out, so it would have the be the end of the combination series, not an internal piece. Performed out of the bail, it would prolong the combination series by an extra skill and an extra tenth (much like the toe 1/1), but it would not keep it going.

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