The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Just the Good Stuff: Women’s All-Around Final

What you need to know, in quick, easily digestible bullet points.

  • a;ldkfa;idfhoieHFOiehfd
  • So that didn’t go…quite as planned
  • But much like the women’s team final, if you didn’t watch the meet and simply looked at the podium of Biles, Murakami, and Hurd, you would be like, “…I mean yeah?”
  • You might be slightly surprised that Murakami finished ahead of Hurd, but otherwise…I mean yeah?
  • Oh dear, sweet, naïve, stupid baby, there is so much you don’t understand
  • Let’s start with Simone
  • Simone had…we’ll say…her worst meet since 2013 Classic?
  • It began with the Biles, on which it seemed like she got negative block (by Simone standards), sitting down like she hasn’t done on a vault since the Mesozoic
  • Perhaps the most surprising thing, however, was that the rest meet didn’t turn into “ANGER SIMONE BAM BAM HIT” like we’ve seen so many times before following a mistake
  • The mistake was instead compounded on beam, where she fell on that damn barani
  • THAT DAMN BARANI, you guys
  • That damn barani
  • Backstory if you haven’t been here for the last three years: I fully believe that Simone could do pretty much any acro skill in the CoP, so I’ve never understood why Chest Down Charlie is the one they go with. It always looks like a center-of-gravity disaster waiting to happen
  • You know that thing where it’s the second semester of senior year and you phone in a trash paper in 30 seconds and still get an A for it and you’re like, “Oh, sweetie, no. It wasn’t”? That’s how I imagine Simone feels about today
  • Anyway, the other two events were fine (an OOB but whatever), so Simone won the world title by about 1.7, proving that the current answer to the “How many times could Simone fall…?” question is “almost four.”
  • But should you be able to fall twice and still win the world AA title?
  • ……No?
  • Simone finished 13th in this final on execution score, so the win was almost entirely based on her difficulty
  • Difficulty must be taken into account and rewarded of course, but it shouldn’t be so significant that it completely outweighs hitting routines—just like anyone who falls on vault shouldn’t be able to medal in the vault final because…you didn’t successfully do the thing you’re getting a medal for
  • So when Simone wins gold for a meet like this, it feels like she’s getting a medal for what she’s capable of doing, rather than what she did on the day
  • At the same time, she really is that much better than the rest of the field so that a missed barani doesn’t suddenly render her worse than the other competitors or render the rest of her excellent beam skills irrelevant, and that’s exactly what this code of points rewards
  • So it’s not that Simone doesn’t DESERVE gold among the rest of this field—she does because of her superior ability. Any other competitor in the field ALSO would have fallen if they attempted that vault, and if the goal of a competition is to find the best gymnast and rank her first, you found the best gymnast and ranked her first
  • But, a sport that rewards capability and potential over the actual performance on the day will fall flat as a viewing experience
  • Simone can crash 80 billion times and still win…so does it even matter? Why even have the competition? We already know what’s going to happen before it starts
  • Thankfully for this particular meet’s sake, we had an insanely close fight for the remaining places among Murakami, Hurd, Derwael, Melnikova, and De Jesus Dos Santos that spiced things up and reinvigorated the inevitable
  • Going into the final rotation, this peloton truly could have ended in any order
  • Even after the final rotation, they still could have ended in any order with less than two tenths separating them all. Eight different sets of judges using the same code of points would have had them in eight different orders
  • None fell, but for almost all of them, the ultimate standings came down to the severity of the medium-sized mistakes that they did make
  • For Hurd, it was grabbing the beam on her side aerial—the most significant issue for any of them and enough to undercut the execution advantage she was accumulating on the other pristine events
  • Murakami had smaller mistakes, falling out of a turn on floor and the general amplitude and handstand issues on bars, which allowed her just barely to overcome Hurd’s 0.3 D-score advantage and take the silver, knocking Hurd to bronze
  • De Jesus Dos Santos had the D-score edge among the group, but she was never quite able to get out from under a 13.500 on bars for an arched handstand, which took her down to 6th place
  • Melnikova continued showing us that she is now the princess of consistency and a deserving winner of the Longines Prize for Most Ladylike Cotillion or whatever, but with some real landing problems on floor and a lunge and three hops on vault (which should have added up to 0.6 off just for landing steps), she dropped down to 5th
  • That brings us to Nina Derwael. Nina doesn’t fit into the same tale as the rest of this group. She had no medium-sized mistakes. Derwael performed an intensely clean competition, allowing her to win the E score crown by more than 6 tenths over Murakami
  • It was simply a lack of equivalent difficulty that put Derwael into 4th. Her floor and vault D scores are miles behind the rest of the lead challengers, so while her execution nearly overcame that, it wasn’t quite enough
  • It’s the exact opposite of Simone’s situation today and illustrates the observe side of this tenuous balance between difficulty and execution. You want a CoP to reward both execution and difficulty, but which one more? (*cough* execution *cough*) And how much lack of difficulty should execution be able to overcome?
  • In this CoP, Derwael’s huge bars difficulty is able to make up for lower difficulty on one of those two lower-D events, but not both
  • That’s why I’m not too outraged about Derwael in 4th. She was absolutely rewarded for her execution (I mean, she finished FOURTH…for BELGIUM), but her VT/FX difficulty isn’t really up to the standard for a world AA medalist in the current age. And that should matter some
  • Chen Yile hit a complete four events (even beam) and took 7th, which must be gratifying after the competition she had on beam to this point
  • Flavia Saraiva was being perfect on beam and then fell on a layout stepout to take 8th. *swallow me whole, sweet lava lake*
  • Ellie Black is the one medal contender who didn’t end up neck-and-neck with the others at the end after falling on bars in the second rotation. Or so we’re told. The Ellie Black cam was not in effect in this meet.
  • I feel like the whole mood of today’s competition can be summed up by “Ellie Black fell”
  • Actually, no, it can be summed by “Brooklyn Moors finished last”
  • If Brooklyn Moors is last, I don’t want to be first
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