The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – October 20, 2017

A. McKayla and Tatiana and Hunter and Rachel and Jamie and Jeanette and

FULL Hunter link

B. NCAA training

Peng is back at it for UCLA.

Phew. But let’s talk about Peng’s routine composition for a while because it’s always a point of contention. She does so much difficulty, but sometimes that means she wobbles for 9.625 instead of getting a 9.9+ every time out. And she’s too talented not to get a 9.9 every time out. Do you take some risk out, as UCLA did last postseason?

Some of Peng’s signature skills are relatively undervalued for NCAA (the double turn is a D, the same as the layout stepout (!), and the flares only get bonus when she does three of them), but she still has quite a bit of backup bonus in her current routine.

What we see in the above video is the best part of her beam work (that and the perfect switch to split), so to me the easiest skill to get rid of to try to ensure 9.9iness would be the layout to two feet, since it’s risky and piked down enough to take away from the visual cleanliness of the routine. Side note: Fans will complain about Peng not getting deducted for piking on the layout, but she doesn’t because the “layout, then pike down to land on to two feet” is its own skill in NCAA, valued at D. That’s dumb, but it is a skill, and is what she should get credit for.

The problem: her acro series is worth a ton of bonus. It’s why her routine is so difficult, and taking it out adds some pressure in getting the five tenths of bonus necessary to get to 10.0. Still, if you replace it with a loso series, there’s still enough bonus in her routine with the 3 flares (0.1), switch+split (0.1 CV), loso (0.1), double turn+beat (0.1 + 0.1 CV), and punch front (0.1). Plus, you’ve taken out a big potential wobble.

I’m getting into this as part of my effort this season to break down the NCAA code in a little more detail because, if you don’t own a J.O. code of points, it can be hard to know what’s happening in routines since it’s never explained. Part of the appeal of NCAA for a casual fan is that it doesn’t have to be explained. You can still know what’s going on even with a minimal understanding of the sport. But if you want to know what’s going on, the information isn’t always easy to find.

Adding this in mostly because Oklahoma’s hashtag this season is #SIP, and I find that aggressively amusing and perfect. Training video and then #SIP.

All they need to do is tag Florida, and I’d be in heaven.

I’m sure it stands for something teamy, but too late.

Also, Bailie Key is here.

That switch to switch 1/2 to beat jump. I approve of this. But just for Key. Not for others.

Say yes to Polina in the beam lineup.

Also, it may not be an NCAA training update anymore, but I’m still ALL IN NO REGRETS.

C. Laurie updates

This random NBC update on Laurie Hernandez’s “competition plans for 2018” made me smile because it’s so clearly an issue of agent “GET YOUR NAME OUT THERE 2018 LIKE SIMONE”-itis, even though in literally the next sentence Laurie is like, “Yeah, I’m taking minimum two years off after the Olympics like Aly did.”

Oh Laurie. Honesty isn’t really on message.

D. Kristian Thomas retires

Why must all my British favorites retire? Dan Purvis, you are never allowed to retire ever. Sorry.

We’ll always have Yurchenko double pike.

Also, being only six inches shorter than me means that Kristian counts as a member of Team Tall for gymnastics. And we’ve got to stick together.

E. GymCastic

This week, we made the grave mistake of returning from our hiatus to do a show about Simone/Laurent/Cecile and all the inevitably juicy Russia post-worlds drama. It’s unlistenable. I encourage you to listen.

I particularly recommend the part about Kabaeva and Putin. We may have initiated an international incident. #sorrynotsorry

F. Beam routine of the week

Quite the underrated aspect of her repertoire.

I really think her beam would have thrived in the current mixed-series era of beam work, especially with her level of execution. Think of all the switch leap + back tuck + double stag style mixed series she could have thrown in there.


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