Why Does the Code Hate Nastia So Much?

Interested in a pointless exercise? SAMESIES! Hey, what else are we going to do?

I decided to take the US 2008 Olympic team and calculate their D-scores as if they were competing now—under the 2020 code—to see how things might change.

And they sort of do!

(Save all comments about comparing a 10-skill code to an 8-skill code and composition choices and all that. No one is pretending this is real or means anything.)

Here’s what the D-Score hierarchy would be for that team under the 2020 code.

VTUBBBFXTOTAL
Shawn Johnson5.85.36.25.723.0
Nastia Liukin5.06.05.55.221.7
Chellsie Memmel5.05.75.55.521.7
Sam Peszek5.45.25.65.521.7
Bridget Sloan5.45.25.25.221.0
Alicia Sacramone5.85.75.416.9
Routines from 2008 Olympic Trials

Compared to the actual actual D-Scores (A-Scores) awarded at the time.

VTUBBBFXTOTAL
Shawn Johnson6.56.46.96.626.4
Nastia Liukin5.57.76.76.226.1
Chellsie Memmel5.57.06.96.225.6
Sam Peszek 5.86.26.66.425.0
Bridget Sloan5.86.76.16.124.7
Alicia Sacramone6.36.56.219.0
D-Scores from 2008 Olympic Trials, best of 2 days

So it brings up some questions. Mostly one question. That question is, why does the current code of points hate Nastia so much?

Because it sure does. Liukin goes from being quite close to Johnson on difficulty in 2008 to living among the peasants in the 2020 code, not at all separated from Memmel and even Peszek, someone who really benefits under the 2020 code compared to 2008.

The biggest blow to Liukin is bars, where changes in connection value over the years have turned routines like Liukins’s in fairly pedestrian-valued affairs instead of being the YOU COULD NEVER routines they were at the time.

2008 code2020 code
Stalder shoot
C
Stalder shoot
B
Piked Stalder 1/2 + Stalder forward (L grip) + Ono + Healy + Ono 1/2 + Layout Gienger
D + D + E + E + E + D = 0.8 CV
Piked Stalder 1/2 + Stalder forward (L grip) + Ono + Healy + Ono 1/2 + Layout Gienger
D + D + E + E + E + E = 0.3 CV
Piked Stalder + Tkatchev
D + D = 0.1 CV
Piked Stalder + Tkatchev
D + D
Pak
D
Pak
D
Cast 1/2 + Toe shoot
B + B
Cast 1/2 + Toe shoot
B + B
Blind change + Double front 1/2
B + D
Blind change + Double front 1/2
B + E
EEEDDDDDDD = 4.3 EEEEEDDD = 3.7
Composition = 2.5Composition = 2.0
Connection bonus = 0.9Connection bonus = 0.3
TOTAL = 7.7TOTAL = 6.0

It’s interesting that two of the skills in Liukin’s routine have since been upgraded by a tenth (the layout Gienger and the double front 1/2 out), and yet the routine is still obliterated because of the loss of CV in her mega-series.

Much of that comes from pirouetting elements no longer being eligible to get 0.2 CV in combos, but nearly as significant is a D element without flight or turn not being eligible for CV, which takes away almost as many combination tenths. That’s also the culprit for Sloan’s routine, which loses nearly as much as Nastia’s does in the 2020 code.

Meanwhile, an unconnected Pak salto. What an extinct bird.

Liukin’s loss on beam is also fairly large, but in this case her routine isn’t truly destroyed by changes in the current code (the evaluation of her eponymous skill doesn’t help, but that’s not a huge deal overall).

2008 code2020 code
Front aerial + Bhs + Layout stepout
D + B + C = 0.2 CV
Front aerial + Bhs + Layout stepout
D + B + C = 0.1 SB
L turn
C
L turn
C
Switch 1/2
D
Switch 1/2
D
Split jump + Sheep jump
A + D
Split jump + Sheep jump
B + C
Side somi
D
Side somi
D
Onodi + Wolf jump 1/1
D + C = 0.1
Onodi + Wolf jump 1/1
D + D = 0.2
Kickover front to scale
D
Kickover front + Scale
C + A
Switch ring
E
Switch ring
E
Back 2.5
D
Back 2.5
D
Acro – DDDDDC = 2.3Acro – DDDDC = 1.9
Dance – EDDC = 1.6Dance – EDD = 1.3
Composition = 2.5Composition = 2.0
Connection bonus = 0.3Connection bonus = 0.3
TOTAL = 6.7TOTAL = 5.5

The issue here is more that, compared to the 1.2 Liukin loses for this routine, someone like Johnson fares much better and loses only 0.8 because the current code rewards routines like Johnson’s in more ways than they were rewarded, even at the time.

2008 code2020 code
Bhs + Bhs + layout
B + B + E = 0.2 CV
Bhs + Bhs + layout
B + B + E = 0.1 CV, 0.1 SB
Front pike
E
Front pike
E
Back tuck 1/1
F
Back tuck 1/1
F
Switch leap + Layout stepout + Back pike
C + C + C = 0.2 CV
Switch leap + Layout stepout + Back pike
C + C + C = 0.2 CV, 0.1 SB
Switch side
C
Switch side
C
Split jump + Pike jump + Back tuck
A + A + C
Split jump + Pike jump + Back tuck
B + A + C
L turn
C
L turn
C
Round-off + Full-in
B + G
Round-off + Full-in
B + G = 0.2 CV
Acro – GFEECCC = 3.2Acro – GFEEC = 2.6
Dance – CCC = 0.9Dance – CCC = 0.9
Composition = 2.5Composition = 2.0
Connection bonus = 0.4Connection bonus = 0.7
TOTAL = 7.0TOTAL = 6.2

Johnson was typically given 6.9 for this beam routine in 2008 (which is why you’ll see 6.9 in the chart at the top), though the intended was 7.0.

In the 2020 code, Johnson makes up a lot of that potentially lost ground through CV since her dismount combination, as well as that three-series of C elements, have since become prototypes for how to compose a beam routine. She was doing a mixed series of C elements way before it was cool. She’s basically a split jump 1/2 from side position away from a present-day routine.

On floor, Sam Peszek is the one who fares the best compared to the 2008 code for similar reasons. Take out a couple of those random extra dance elements you had to do to get up to 10 skills, and this is routine composition you’d want right now.

2008 code2020 code
Double double tucked
G
Double double tucked
H
Back 2.5 + Front 1/1
D + C = 0.2 CV
Back 2.5 + Front 1/1
D + C = 0.2 CV
Triple turn
C
Triple turn
C
Switch ring
C
Switch ring
C
Cat leap 1.5
B
Cat leap 1.5
B
Double Arabian
E
Double Arabian
E
Split leap 1/1
C
Split leap 1/1
C
Back 1.5
C
Back 1.5
C
Double pike
D
Double pike
D
Acro – GEDDC = 2.3Acro – HEDDC = 2.4
Dance – CCCCB = 1.4Dance – CCC = 0.9
Composition = 2.5Composition = 2.0
Connection bonus = 0.2Connection bonus = 0.2
TOTAL = 6.4TOTAL = 5.5

Peszek gains a tenth from the upgrade of the Silivas, but overall across beam and floor she fares so much better in the 2020 code because she’s mostly reliant on skill value rather than the lamer connection bonuses that have been weaned from the code in the intervening years. And when she is reliant on connection bonus, like her back full + back pike on beam, that series would still be a big deal today.

For all of Nellie Kim’s “Nastia was the last one I liked” subtext whenever she talks about the current state of gymnastics, the evolution of the code in the last 12 years—predominately under her watch—has clearly said that Johnson and Peszek’s gymnastics is the composition that should be rewarded.

That 23.0 D-score for Shawn Johnson under the 2020 code would have been tied for second-best in the all-around final at worlds in 2019, while the rest of the US 2008 Olympians would be well back of medal pace in terms of difficulty.

29 thoughts on “Why Does the Code Hate Nastia So Much?”

  1. Nastia peasant pedestrian, same sentence. I see someone in pink casting darkness your way!

    Honestly though, I loved this. It’s interesting how impactful designing routines for max value is now. Some hate it, but the open code requires more than just good gymnastics.

    Unfortunately variety is often lost and we get stuck with ugly or poorly performed skills because the difficulty is too hard to pass up.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. In terms of difficulty, but Shawn’s horrible execution would have destroyed her in the new COP. That inability to ever hit 180 degrees even on floor…..

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  2. I think “Switch leap + Layout stepout + Back pike” in Johnson’s routine only get 0.1 CV (and 0.1 SB)? C + C mixed connection is no longer a thing.

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  3. I think you have one of Peszek’s front full or 1.5 categorized as a dance skill instead of an acro skill. I only saw four dance skills in that routine but six acro skill.

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  4. I think because the COP moved away from valuing pirouette combos since only a few gymnasts with bionic shoulder flexibility can do those (and most of them tend to be Chinese so you know how much the FIG feels about that) Still Piked Stalder 1/2 + Stalder forward (L grip) + Ono + Healy + Ono 1/2 + Layout Gienger is a MONSTER combo.

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  5. I can’t say she is a bad gymnast, because she was obviously very successful, but I’m so so so glad that I don’t have to watch Nastia’s gymnastics anymore. I didn’t like any of it.

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  6. Really?Even before asking why the code hates the chinese so much?Basically the downgrade of DV of nastia’s bar routine is the connection value of one-arm pirouettes, which were only performed by the chinese with one exception. Clearly you only saw that one exception.

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      1. @Anon Yes, and in other events the Chinese didn’t lose much at all. Their beam is always worth a lot, even when they lost the sheep jump. So Spencer didn’t go with “why does the code hate China so much” because the code doesn’t really hate China all that much lol.

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      2. Generally, the Chinese women have also benefitted from the narrowed gap in vaulting difficulty. There’s give and take.

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    1. This “huge devaluation” was simply the requirement that C or D pirouettes have a turn and the reduction of the E+E pirouette/mixed connection value from 0.2 to 0.1.

      I don’t think that this was an unreasonable adjustment seeing as connecting two skills with no release or transition doesn’t warrant 0.2. I agree with limiting 0.2 bonuses to riskier connections with a greater fall.

      These comparisons in D-scores obviously can’t and shouldn’t be taken apples for apples. In every code of points, gymnasts can and should use the code to their benefit. We all know that the gymnasts discussed would update their routines to fit the current code.

      Nastia could have done:
      Jump to high bar, kip, cast handstand
      Inbar 1/2 +
      E-pirouette +
      E-pirouette +
      3/2 E-pirouette +
      Layout Gienger
      Inbar 1/1 +
      Pak Salto
      Toe/Stalder shoot to high bar
      Double tuck half out

      That would count 6 Es and 2Ds for 3.8; 0.5 in connection, and 2.0 in requirements for a very competitive 6.3 difficulty score. The only skill in that routine that Nastia didn’t do was an inbar 1/1. Even if you replace that with a plain inbar, the difficulty only drops 0.2 to a still great 6.1.

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    1. I think she would struggle to keep up with all the shap to pak combos we see now. She never did any shap variations at all, and the high to low to high combos are where gymnasts get so much of their CV now. She could still do a very competitive routine. And Valeri was/is really good at making the code work for her.

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      1. Nastia has mentioned that she struggled with Shaposhnikova skills even at her peak. There are definitely ways to get high SV without Shap though. He Kexin’s 2010 routine would have a 6.6 SV in the 2017-20 COP.

        I can see Nastia at her peak pull off this routine for 6.5 SV:

        Inbar 1/2 (D) + L-Grip Endo 1/1 (E) + Bi (E) + Lin (E) + Bi 1/2 (E) + Layout Gienger (E)
        Inbar 1/1 (E) + Pak D
        Ray
        Tuck Double Front 1/2 DMT (E)

        DEEEEEEE -> 3.9
        Composition -> 2.0
        CV -> 0.6
        3.9 + 2.0 + 0.6 = 6.5

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  7. I can never see or think about Nastia’s double front 1/2 without also thinking “spider-in-the-dryer” from a post a while back.
    For that, I thank you.

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    1. Too bad most of us didn’t include the Olympic judges. And they were the ones – not you or me – that got to decide the “best gymnast” prize that mattered most to Shawn (and Nastia, and most everyone else who cares about gymnastics). Oh well. Both were good.

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    2. Better gymnast? Shawn’s inability to hit 180 degrees even on floor disqualifies her from ever being considered a “good” gymnast.

      Also, Shawn didn’t even deserve a medal in the AA. She’s lucky Nellie Kim credited her that 2.3 “Amanar”. It should have been downgraded to a DTY and with that downgrade, she would be only 0.05 points ahead of Semenova. With that pressure during the competition I would expect Semenova to come out ahead especially since Shawn would be rattled after losing her “Amanar” and knowing she could never beat Nastia for gold.

      Nastia downgraded her triple twist on floor and beam and her front 2.5 on floor because she was getting devalued by judges and rightly so.

      If Nastia knew a 2.3 twist was considered an “Amanar” she could have upped the difficulty a lot more in her floor and beam routine.

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      1. Nastia never came close on those elements- they weren’t .2 revolution cheats, more like .5 revolution cheats. Shawn’s problem (aside from splits) was that some of her skills were hot/cold from the amount of training and puberty being at the door. Her weakest event was also the one most rewarded in that particular quad. But in the end being hot on the right night and having the routines/skills that are valued by a certain code matter. Nastia’s FX and VT on the night of AA were the best she ever performed.

        I still prefer Shawn- which doesn’t mean the result was wrong.

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  8. I think if the same AA contest and perfomance takes place today, shawn would win. Her sheer DV advantage in the new COP would most likely carry her to the win even if the E might not be as high as nastia.

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  9. So true about Nellie Kim, for someone who does so much babbling about the lost elegance of gymnastics and unique construction going by the wayside she sure does go out of her way to make sure that the same one/two routines with the ugliest skills (*cough wolf turn *cough split half from side) get the most value

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  10. Team Nastia here (in regards to gymnastics). It was fun to see her go from the Chosen One in late 2004/early 2005, succeed, then fall in the shadows and ultimately prevail. Watching her win Beijing remains one of my most favorite sports moments. I cried like a little baby that night.

    But now….her Instagram leaves a lot to be desired. Does she just pay someone to take photographs of her all day? I think she tries to be relatable, but falls so short.

    Liked by 1 person

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