No Skill For You

Today’s journey addresses skills that were officially named for specific athletes in the code of points at some time in the past, and then the code was like “BYE CINDY” either to just the name, just the skill, or even both. Fun for the whole family!

Note: There are many instances of this phenomenon (like many), and this should not be considered an exhaustive account by any means.

The Khorkina(s)

As part of the vast international conspiracy against Svetlana Khorkina because so very many people are jealous of her beauty and greatness, multiple skills once named after her are no longer attributed to Her Regal Khorkness in the code of points.

The Markelov—as it is named in the men’s code—was once named for Khorkina, who had been performing it since her early days when she had a ponytail (laser beam sound effect) and ponytailed her way onto the international stage at 1994 worlds.

But nearly immediately following Khorkina’s retirement, the skill was snatched away from her for undisclosed reasons, so while it still appears as an element in the code of points, it is no longer attributed to anyone by name.

The Markelov is not the only skill that was viciously stolen from Khorkina. She also once had the hop 1.5 to front support named after herself, and her name no longer appears associated with that skill either.

It is not, however, all about Khorkina [crack of thunder, he’s struck down dead], as we’ve also seen the elimination of the named element The Ziganshina, which used to be the tuck 2/1 to front support. Like Khorkina’s elements, that skill still exists (and was in fact upgraded from B to C in 2013, so the code is into it), yet it is mysteriously no longer named after Natalia Ziganshina.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s horrible looking, but when has that ever been a consideration before?

The Chow(s)

While we speak a lot about the vast international conspiracy against Svetlana Khorkina, little time is reserved for the equally insidious vast international conspiracy against Amy Chow. Amy Chow currently has no bars skills named after herself in the code of points, and not for lack of originating elements. I’m really going to need Amy Chow to become president of the Women’s Technical Committee, is what I’m saying.

Most famously, the Stalder Shaposhnikova, an entry which I’m editing because it appears there is far more controversy over the origin of the Stalder Shap than I had originally known as it did appear in the code of points, though unaccompanied by a name like an old spinster of 22, before Amy Chow performed it. Some skills of that nature have been retroactively renamed—like the Produnova, which was not named after Produnova until later—but no luck for Chow. Mostly, you’ll hear people in gymnastics call it the Chow because of fighting the power and whatnot.

It’s not the only possible Chow. The Stalder 1.5 to mixed grip was also a Chow, but that name has also been scrubbed from the code, as have all the names for pirouetting skills that ended in mixed grip or L-grip or the like, and typically past handstand. There are tons.

I’m not sure whether these names were eliminated because the WTC decided that the finishing grip of an element does not make it a different element, or because they ended well past handstand and the Handstand Nazis decided that made them invalid. But whatever the reason, all those named elements are gone.

The Ma

Ma Yanhong is supposed to have the clear-hip 1/1 named after her from when she performed it at worlds all the way back in 1979, but that’s another name that disappeared along the way and apparently no one cared. Probably because of not Soviet enough.

The Tuzhikova

Liudmila Tuzhikova has been personally victimized by Oksana Chusovitina. I’m just going to say it. The double layout with a full twist is currently named after Chusovitina in the code of points, but Tuzhikova performed it well before Chusovitina, doing so at 1987 worlds. And it was glorious.

This case is not as simple as Tuzhikova simply being ignored for not being Nellie enough. Tuzhikova and Chusovitina did both have this  skill named after themselves for a time because they were judged to have performed it with the twists in separate saltos (debatable, but that’s what we were told to believe). At a certain point, the WTC stopped caring about where the twist takes place in double saltos (the full in, the full out, and the 1/2 in 1/2 out are not considered different elements), and so these two skills were mushed into one, and it was given exclusively to Chusovitina for some reason, The Chusovitina subsuming The Tuzhikova like a primordial bacterium.

The Borden

In addition to deciding that the location of twisting doesn’t make elements different, the WTC also dictated along the way that dance elements in side position on beam are not separate skills from those in cross position. Before that decision, several gymnasts had side elements named after themselves, though I’m choosing to highlight The Borden because of modern relevance.

This skill is aggressively common (like diabetes) in this quadrennium because an extra tenth is awarded to jumps from side position, and everyone has decided to get on that wagon.

One might also argue that if you’re willing to deem a side-position element more valuable than a cross-position element, then aren’t you inherently saying there’s a difference between the two skills? And therefore they should be eligible to be named separately? Or…?

The Lin, The Bi, and The Ling

The skills you know but you don’t, these are the three variations of the elements you just call “those E pirouettes that the Chinese do.” They all used to have actual WAG names before the code decided that like, ugh, hard or whatever. Those names were dropped and are currently used only rarely, with these skills mostly called by their boy names like Healy or just not acknowledged as being different at all.

If you’re interested in knowing the difference between The Lin, The Bi, and The Ling, we also provide that service at this establishment, but otherwise don’t worry about it.

The Korbut and The Chen

You know that swing-down skill on beam that you universally refer to as The Korbut because it was named after Olga Korbut (actually Olga Kourbut) in the code of points through 2016? Yeah, well not anymore, apparently. That’s one of the most recent code name-disappearances despite being, you know, The Korbut. No one knows why, but it happened.

Long before the Korbut got axed, Chen Cuiting’s version of the skill—which involved tucking before stretching the hips in swing down—was also nixed, both in the named section and as a skill in its own right.

The code now allows a stretched, loso, and piked version of the skill, but no longer a tucked version.

Just for consistency, The Milosevici, Lavinia Milosevici’s version of the Chen as a mount on beam has also been removed from the code of points, even though she’s not Chinese.

Surviving the purge somehow has been Eva Rueda, whose piked version of the skill survives both as an option to be performed and as a named element. Who can say for how long…

The issue of the Chen being removed entirely as a skill is far from unique. In addition to The Retiz mentioned last week, there are a number of formerly named elements that have been actively taken away, rather than just having their names lost among decades of disorganization.

(In this section, I’m not including actively banned elements like the Mukhina or floor roll-outs because at least we know what happened there. This is solely for skills where the reason was “Nellie thought it was ugly” or “Wait what happened?”)

The Hopfner-Hibbs

Competing at 2007 worlds, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs got the double illusion turn on floor named after herself.

But in the 2017 update to the code of points, this skill was quietly removed.

Like several of the other more recent removals, EHH’s name still exists for this element in the named-skill section of the code, but the element itself no longer has a skill number or a value.

The Liukin

The most famous of these eliminations is probably the Liukin, though in her case we were at least given some manner of explanation, that Nastia’s kickover to scale on beam was later judged to be two separate elements and could not therefore be its own separate element.

Best part: Like EHH, Nastia’s name still appears in the named-skill section of the code of points on beam, but the scale portion of the skill description was removed when it was determined to be two elements, so now they’re just giving Liukin credit for the kickover front. Yes, Nastia invented the kickover front in 2008. It didn’t exist before that.

The Wang and The Liu II

Other named skills that the code of points didn’t care for and got rid of include Wang Xiaoyan’s tucked Tkatchev from the last 80s. I still don’t understand these cases where we’re cool with straddled, piked, and layout shapes in performing skills, but not tucked shapes. Why not a tucked Tkatchev?

Liu Xuan still has the one-armed giant named after herself in the code, though it is valued at an A in a transparent “NEVER DO THIS, DONKEYS” move, but her one-armed gienger has been removed entirely.

You could perhaps say it counts as a banned skill because the code definitely doesn’t want women performing one-arm elements on bars (because…of their…fragile lady arms…or something…?), but the one-arm giant still exists, so that doesn’t quite logically track.


So…that’s a few skills. I’m sure I’m going to have to do another edition of this at some point because there are certainly more that have been taken away.

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16 thoughts on “No Skill For You”

  1. It sort of feels like someone accidentally deleted, or spilled coffee on, the master list of named skills. And no one has the desire to go back and look at all the tapes and scoresheets to recreate it. Does Nellie drink coffee?

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  2. It was me that took the stalder 1.5 to mixed grip. God, I’m so picky about handstands. I love watching bars (it’s my favorite event because duh), but it’s hard for me to watch a routine that struggles to hit handstands. Like, crazy feet? Bring it on! (though I do admit that I’m a toe point connoisseur) Straddled pak saltos? No problem! But, bad handstands? WATCH OUT 😉

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  3. I feel like, with Xuan, the PTB have decided, “fine. We get it. You were unique. Here, have a skill but we won’t make it worth ANYTHING so it doesn’t get done.”

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  4. I must say I am not such a huge fan of Spencer’s attitude of disapproving… well, basically any dance element without a split on floor. I like the Ziganshina, I wish it was a D. Clearly harder than a split full. Other non-split dance elements should be upgraded too.

    Otherwise incredible post as always. I didn’t even know a one-armed Gienger existed! And I think they still consider elements in side and cross positions the same so you don’t get value or CV out of them twice in the same routine, which I agree with.

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    1. Yes, sort of. The Grigoras skill itself is in the code, but combined with its sister the Maaranen into a single entry.

      The Barani is a front flip with a half twist, doesn’t matter where the half twist comes. The Grigoras is the Barani where the half twist comes out of the flip. The Maaranen is the other version of the Barani where the half twist comes in to the flip. The two different forms of the Barani used to be differentiated on balance beam and the Grigoras was given a higher difficulty (F).

      However, in 2017, both the Grigoras and the Maaranen were: combined into a single entry as just a front flip with a half twist, the placement of the half-twist makes no difference, and the value of the skill is an F regardless of the half twist. In addition, the singular Barani entry has lost its former names.

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  5. Spencer will you please explain what you mean by “LOSO variation” of the back to swingdown? That doesn’t sound like something that should be possible.

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  6. Wait sorry if dumb question but is there an actual stated reason for tacitly getting rid of one-armed elements on bars in WAG?

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    1. I don’t know if it was Explicitly Stated, but it’s widely known the FIG criminally undervalued the one-arm giant work in WAG because they considered it too dangerous and didn’t want to encourage its performance. One arm giants are quite common on high bar but the bar is much narrower and thus easier to maintain a solid grip on with only one arm. Of course, this happened back in the 90s when UB was only just starting to become high bar lite – if the elements had not been submitted until just now, who knows what FIG would think. The WTC seems pretty committed to holding up their predecessors’ legacy of dumbassery though.

      There have also been hypotheses that despite the official explanation, it was actually a politically-motivated decision to keep China from gaining prominence even more quickly than they already were at that point, but as with most accusations of institutional bias in judging that’s pretty much impossible to prove either way

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