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.


19 thoughts on “The Missing Bars Skill”

  1. Another way to get CV out of a bail might be to do something like bail – inbar 1/2 – some shaposh variation, changing the direction of the swing after the inbar. This is combination is only worth a total of 0.2 CV, but I imagine you could do something like Tkatchev variation or piked Jaeger (E or F) – Bail (D) – Inbar 1/2 (D) – Komova II (E) – Pak (D) – shaposh 1/2 (E), for 0.8 CV. This does cause some issues, though, because a pirouette with full turn is needed for CR, plus a dismount, but there is also the grip change CR which is not necessarily fulfilled by this series. I guess someone particularly adept at connecting out of Jaegers could do a piked Jaeger at the beginning of this series for the same CV, connecting the piked Jaeger to the bail and continuing from there, which would fulfill the different grip requirement. Then they could just do something like toe-on 1/1 + full twisting double tuck on the high bar at the end for another 0.1 CV.

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  2. I really wish bars was more artistic and that one could set the bars closer and still be competitive. The old school skills were much more stylish and original and less predictable. I remember competing against this girl who would cast, straddle over the bar, basically sit on it and bounce off her butt, and then use the rebound to do a full to the ground – as her dismount. Now it’s like the only body parts can be the hands and occasionally the feet – but even the feet are discouraged in a many circumstances. I guess the tummy for front support. But – why can’t we use the back of the knees like in flying trapeze? And I wish we would see cool poses in the air in transitions – like a pak with one leg in passe for example. Or double stagged legs in pirouettes. Today, the routines are so cookie cutter and un-expressive. But we already have a non-expressive event in vault, and bars has so many possibilities for expression if it was just allowed / rewarded.

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      1. Larisa Iordache almost did a double stag handstand on uneven bars at some competition once, I don’t remember which. Obviously it was an error, she arched on a handstand and tried to kick her legs back over to save her swing, but if you ignore the fact that it was supposed to be a straight handstand it’s actually a vaguely pretty skill. I imagine doing it intentionally would kind of kill the swing though.

        You can see a screenshot of it here:

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Another key to 0.4 bonus connections that I’m surprised (to my knowledge) hasn’t been tried yet is the bail with 1/2 turn which is a D. It gets people facing the correct direction for an E-level transfer and it’s different from the Pak.

    A Seitz + Bail with 1/2 turn + inbar Shaposh + Pak + any Shaposh with 1/2 turn is not out of the realm of possible. It would bring 0.8 in bonus and, if successfully connected, an almost guaranteed gold medal in any Worlds or Olympics final.


    1. Is a bail with 1/2 turn just a bail to handstand followed by a 1/2 turn in handstand on top of the bar? I don’t think I have ever seen this skill before, but it seems to be a interesting possibility.


  4. I’ve been thinking of bail to handstand + Zgoba 1/1 for years as a D + E + 0.2 but the WTC killed the Zgoba right off the bat by giving it a measly C ; which happens to be the first letter of a 4 letter word that describes Nelli K to a T… or to a C as it were.

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  5. The problem with the clear-hip hecht with 1/2 turn would be the issue of having to reach completely horizontal after the catch to avoid the .1 deduction. I’m not sure that would be 100% possible.


  6. The code shows the Stalder Hecht 1/2 as being an E skill. It’s in the same box as a Chow 1/2. I’m not quite sure why the clear hip variation of the same skill is a C skill though???? As much as the code encourages more combinations of flight elements, they’re also limiting the field of valuable skills to use in these combinations. It’s very frustrating.


  7. Brilliant dissertation. I personally love the high to low to high to low, etc. transitions. This makes uneven bars much more enjoyable because both bars are being used. Remember when gymnasts just stayed on the high bar for all of their elements and dumped a little bail on the low bar? (ahem…Kerri Strug, shudder) I agree that we need more transitions. Hopefully, the women of this quad will experiment with different transitions. Personally, the Pak is getting to be ubiquitous. Can someone try a tucked double back between the bars? Or an arabian front?

    BTW, can someone imagine an insanely long combo Aliya could potentially put together on UB? Since she is capable of stringing together an epic combo sequence on beam, I can only imagine what she could do on bars (on which she is double Olympic champion).


  8. Bail (D) + 3/2 Inbar (E) + Inbar Shaposh (E) + Pak (D) + Inbar Shaposh 1/2 (E) 0.6 CV
    I know it would be ridiculously difficult but if someone was able to master it could be very useful.


  9. Consider the following: Bar routines composed of three or more connected transitions are poor composition (too many similar skills in a row, no skill on the bar between transitions) and just plain ugly. We don’t need to encourage any more five-transition-in-a-row routines than already exist.

    Not to mention, since the FIG requires the bail to stop in a handstand anyway, you have a good starting point to actually do a well-composed routine that isn’t a crime against humanity using this skill! Like bail-pike stalder 1/2-shap variation with no or full twist-uprise to immediate Hindorff or stalder Tkatchev-Pak-stalder full-shap half variation-KCH or tap through to HSTD-stalder/clear hip/toe half-forward circling element half-dismount out of an outward back giant (or an underswing if you’re feeling creative). That’s ten skills (eleven if you count the mount which is usually just a KCH these days #yawn), it meets all of the requirements, depending on the specific skill choice pretty much every pair of skills can earn a connection bonus, AND watching it doesn’t make the viewer feel like a dog at a tennis game! (You have to be careful not to overuse the straddled and piked stalders, since the 4th+ skills out of these entries won’t count, but there are plenty of other high scoring options to work with on most of the skills. here’s an example of everything connected using this basic skeleton:

    long hang KCH (A) + bail (D) + pike stalder 1/2 (D) + Maloney (D) + Shang (F) + Pak (E) + straddle stalder 1/1 (D) + Komova I (E) + giant 2/1 (D) + straddle stalder 3/2 (E) + L-grip straddle stalder 1/2 (D) + DDLO (G)
    All CR = 2.0
    G + F + E + E + E + D + D = 3.6 == 5.6
    D + D .1 x7 = .7 == 6.3
    D (flight on/to hb) + C (flight or piro on hb) .2 x 1 = .2 == 6.5
    D + E (both flight) .2 x 2 = .4 == 6.9 (or a 7.4 in the old code)

    Even breaking the connection string by doing a KCH or just a giant after the Komova I (instead of the giant full) this is still a very high scoring routine at 6.6 (7.1 in the old code). And there are zero (0) transition connections, zero strings of three non-connected Tkatchevs, none of the crappy composition that seems to have become the norm in bar work these days. I can come up with plenty more where that came from with more reasonable or unique skills depending on what your gymnast is up for, so if you’re, say, Maggie Haney or Qi Han and you’re reading this, [mimes phone by ear] CALL ME


  10. My dream routine would be a combination of the low-high-low transitions and the Chinese pirouetting:

    KCH, Komova II + Pak + Shaposh 1/2 (E + D + E for 0.4 in connection)

    KCH, Inbar 1/2 + E-piourette + E-piourette + piked Jaeger (D + E + E + E for 0.3 in connection)

    KCH with grip change, forward giant, forward giant (if necessary), any double salto forward with half twist, tucked or piked (E or F).

    This would yield a 6.5 or 6.6 and would require only 8 elements, 3 KCHs, and one or two wind-up giants.


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