The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

CSI: Your Floor Score

The judges are not here for your trash leaps.

At U.S. Classic, the floor-credit whip (you know that) was cracked in all directions, at everyone, frequently to the tune of 3- to 5-tenth downgrades for those attempting multiple turns and twisting leaps. Basically, if you’re wondering what elements everyone got credit for, the answer is nothing, and she didn’t.

And rightfully so.

The moral of U.S. Classic is that just because a split leap 1.5 is a D element, that doesn’t mean you should try it. Really. You won’t get credit anyway.

Let’s start with Jade Carey, who recorded a still-impressive 5.7 D that currently ranks as one of the highest in the world.

JADE CAREY
Double double tucked (H)
Double layout 1/1 (H)
Double L turn (D)
L hop 1/1 (C)
Switch leap 1/1 (D)
Front 2/1 (D)
Split leap 1.5 (D)
Double tuck 1/1 (E)
Acro – HHED = 2.5
Dance – DDDC = 1.5
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.0
Attempted D-SCORE = 6.0
 Awarded D-SCORE = 5.7

Carey has just 8 countable skills in the routine, which means she’s relying on getting full credit for all of them. Other gymnasts will throw in backup C dance elements like switch rings just in case, though the risk there is that more elements = more deductions.

In this case, Carey would not have been given the double L turn, receiving only B value for the single L turn and bringing her down to 5.8. Then, the split leap 1.5 would have been bumped down to a split leap 1/1 for C value, which brings her down to the 5.7.

We don’t know what was downgraded because we don’t get judging receipts (heaven forbid there be some transparency), but we can make educated guesses.

This isn’t a dire D situation. A 5.7 is still quite high, and she’s taking a calculated risk in the hope that occasionally she’ll receive more than 5.7. It will be tough to get credit for the split 1.5, but completing that double L to get up to 5.9 is doable and makes for a very competitive D-score.

Others were downgraded more severely.

DEANNE SOZA
Layout (A)
Front 1/1 (C) + Front tuck (A)
Switch ring (C)
Split leap 1.5 (D)
Double L turn (D) + Illusion (B) = 0.1 CV
Double tuck (D)
Switch leap 1/1 (D)
Double pike (D)
Acro – DDC = 1.1
Dance – DDDCB = 1.7
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.1
Attempted D-SCORE = 4.9
Awarded D-SCORE = 4.4

It seems a bit silly that Deanne Soza (OF ALL PEOPLE) was among the gymnasts who received the most severe dance element downgrades, but that’s where we are. She’s going for a number of elements that are difficult to complete, so she ended up with an intentionally downgraded routine that also got annihilated in D-score, giving her a 4.4.

That likely means she didn’t get credit for the double L turn (also losing the connection tenth), which drops her three tenths to a 4.6. It’s one of the more arguable downgrades because she does appear to complete the turn but bounces around on her heel in the second spin.

To come up with the remaining two tenths of downgrades, we’re looking at the split 1.5 getting hit (correct, it’s a split 1.25) along with the switch leap 1/1 (eh). So basically, she got full credit for two of the five dance elements she attempted, even though she’s Deanne Soza, because D credit on these twisting leaps is all about finishing position.

Her partner in losing five tenths off of her attempted D-score was Jordan Chiles.

JORDAN CHILES
Double layout (F)
Double Arabian piked (F)
Switch ring (C)
Split leap 1.5 (D)
Back 1.5 (C) +i+ Double tuck (D) = 0.1
Double wolf turn (D)
Switch leap 1/1 (D)
Double pike (D)
Acro – FFDD = 2.0
Dance – DDDC = 1.5
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.1
Attempted D-SCORE = 5.6
Awarded D-SCORE = 5.1

So basically…she didn’t get anything?

The double wolf was definitely not complete, so if we take that down to an A for a single wolf turn, that means the back 1.5 (C) counts as a fifth acro skill instead and she’s at 5.5.

Downgrading the split leap 1.5 and the switch leap 1/1 (as happened to most people) brings her down to 5.3, but then we still have two more tenths to account for. That means we’re looking at the double Arabian being credited as tucked (for a loss of one tenth) and another dance element not being recognized.

It’s most likely the switch ring getting docked for lack of arch/head release and credited as a switch split. On typical leaps (unless it’s really, really bad) lack of split is addressed in the E-score rather than the D-score. As long as the split hits 135 degrees, it’s supposed to receive credit and then be destroyed in E-score. It has to be worse than 135 degrees for the D to get involved. But the D score has more authority on switch rings.

All of those downgrades together (the double wolf, split 1.5, switch 1/1, double arabian, switch ring) would get her down to 5.1. It’s basically a credit bloodbath.

Laney Madsen’s set demonstrated the danger of relying on turns, another major downgrade possibility, just as the complex leaps are.

LANEY MADSEN
Whip (A) + Double Arabian tucked (E) = 0.2 CV
Double tuck 1/1 (E)
Switch leap (B)
Switch leap 1/2 (C)
Double Y turn (D)
Back 1.5 (C) +i+ Back 3/1 (E) = 0.2 CV
Double scorpion turn (D)
Double tuck (D)
Acro – EEEDC = 2.2
Dance – DDC = 1.1
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.4
Attempted D-SCORE = 5.7
Awarded D-SCORE = 5.3

The double scorpion turn on floor is not currently in the CoP, but all the other similar double turns on floor are D skills (L, Y, attitude), so it seems reasonable to assume that its provisional rating would follow the pattern of B for single, D for double.

If we assume that, then Madsen lost four tenths from her attempted routine, for which several probable downgrades are nominees (i.e., it could have gone lower.) I’d give her credit for the Memmel turn but would not give her the double scorpion turn, which drops the D-score two tenths. The other two tenths likely come from the 3/1 being credited as 2.5, which would be consistent with the treatment of 3/1s we saw throughout the competition.

There was a definite 3/1 crackdown here, where all those who were a 1/4 twist short did not receive credit. I’ll be fascinated to see if that’s the result of a dictum from above that will carry through to worlds. (Though the Chinese are safe regardless because you can’t downgrade a tumbling pass that has a skill connected out of it. For some reason.)

Abby Paulson was the worst hit by the 3/1 crackdown.

ABBY PAULSON
Double pike 1/1 (E)
Back 3/1 (E)
Switch ring (C)
Switch leap 1/1 (D)
Double wolf turn (D)
Back 2.5 (D) + Front tuck (A) = 0.1 CV
Split leap 1.5 (D)
Back 1.5 (C) + Front 1/1 (C) = 0.1 CV
Acro – EEDC = 1.7
Dance – DDDC = 1.5
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.2
Attempted D-SCORE = 5.4
Awarded D-SCORE = 5.0

Paulson was expected to score much closer to the top on floor, but those hopes were dashed because she attempted both a 3/1 and a 2.5 in the same routine.

When the 3/1 was downgraded to 2.5, it meant the second 2.5 was a repeated skill and not recognized, eliminating both the value of the skill and the connection tenth into the front tuck. Paulson has a backup C-valued acro element that she can count instead, so losing a whole acro skill wasn’t completely disastrous, but it did take her down to a 5.1. Then, the compulsory downgrading of the split leap 1.5 likely accounts for the 5.0.

If possible, Paulson should put the 2.5 to front tuck combo before the 3/1. That way, if the 3/1 gets downgraded, at least she still gets her connection tenth because that pass would be first.

Also having her D score destroyed because of a repeated skill was Kalyany Steele.

KALYANY STEELE
Double layout (F)
Front 2/1 (D)
Split leap 1/2 (B)
Switch leap 1/2 (C)
Double tuck (D)
Double wolf turn (D)
Split leap 1/1 (C)
Back 2.5 (D)
Acro – FDDD = 1.8
Dance – DCCB = 1.2
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.0
Attempted D-SCORE = 5.0
Awarded D-SCORE = 4.5

A big composition danger is the inclusion of a double wolf turn without a backup skill that can count in its place. The single wolf turn is an A skill, so if you’re relying on the double wolf and don’t get it, you’re suddenly counting an A instead of a D. That happened to Steele, dropping her right down to 4.7.

In addition to not receiving that turn, Steele had her split leap 1/1 downgraded to a split leap 1/2. Since she had already performed the split leap 1/2 earlier in the routine, she got no credit for it the second time and was left counting the only skill she had left, an A-value back handspring, to round out her collection of eight skills, which now consisted of two A elements.

The only three in the senior competition who received their full attempted D scores were Morgan Hurd, Alyona Shchennikova, and Abi Walker. (It appears Abi Walker even got a split 1.5 credited.)

Let’s look at Morgan Hurd’s routine and why it didn’t receive any downgrades.

MORGAN HURD
Double double tucked (H)
Double pike 1/1 (E)
Split ring leap 1/1 (D)
Front layout (B) + Front 2/1 (D) = 0.1 CV
Switch ring (C)
Split ring (C)
Double pike (D)
Acro – HEDDB = 2.3
Dance – DCC = 1.0
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.1
Attempted D-SCORE = 5.4
Awarded D-SCORE = 5.4

Hurd has made some changes to this routine from Stuttgart, changes that lower the risk for downgrades.

She has replaced the ever-downgraded split leap 1.5 with a Ferrari (still a distinct downgrade risk, though Hurd performs it better than most), and she has replaced the switch leap 1/1 with a split ring leap. That means her attempted D is a 5.4 at this point instead of the 5.5 it was at Stuttgart, but it also appears she’s more likely to get full credit for this set. And she’s still counting a B. Throw in a switch 1/2 somewhere and she makes that tenth back no problem.

It should come as no surprise that Hurd had the highest E-score on floor among the seniors by a clear margin—despite a weak landing—because when gymnasts perform uncompleted leaps that receive downgrades, it’s not just a D-score problem, it’s an E-score problem.

In a double jeopardy situation, they’re getting penalized on both scores, which can destroy a total very quickly. That’s why it’s better to perform a C element you know you can complete rather than a D element that’s going to be credited as a C anyway.

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