The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

The 2022 Code is Out!

The FIG has released the code of points for 2022-2024, which will go into effect on January 1, 2022 and (because of the everything) will last for just three years instead of the usual four—the triennium leading up to and including Paris 2024.

I did a side-by-side read of the 2017-2020 (2021…) code compared to the new code to account for all of the new rules, both big and small. Surprise, I already have strong opinions about all of them.

The Headlines

Maximum 1 wolf turn per routine – In typical FIG fashion, they looked at what everyone was talking about 8 years ago and said, “Check it out, we’ve just had a great idea.” But I’m not complaining. A new rule for 2022 prohibits gymnasts from performing more than one wolf turn in any single beam or floor routine. All subsequent wolf turns will not be counted.

It’s a wildly important development to eliminate all those insufferable back-to-back wolf doubles and wolf triples. Now, I would have also liked to see the wolf turns on floor downgraded by a tenth, but we can’t have everything.

Upgrade of clear-hip hecht 1/2 – This may seem like a random thing to list among the headlines, but changing the value of the clear-hip hecht 1/2 from C to D should help vary bars composition by introducing an element that can be connected out of a bail handstand and back tothe high bar for useful bonus.

After the elimination of the connection bonus for the bail handstand + stalder shoot, bails rapidly disintegrated from top elite routines as there wasn’t any real scoring incentive to doing them. The hope, at least, is that this will provide another viable transition option so that everything isn’t Pak + Shaposh.

The clear-hip hecht 1/2 has also been added to the list of exceptions for empty backswing deductions, like the Shaposhnikova skills.

Dismount Bonus – This is kind of a weird one. On bars, beam, and floor, a 0.2 bonus will now be awarded for (hit) dismounts rated D or higher. This isn’t necessarily bad thing—I’m in favor of encouraging difficult dismounts—but it’s going to take some getting used to and is strange because they JUST got rid of the composition requirement for D dismounts. This was presumably done to allow people who didn’t have a D dismount but had difficulty elsewhere to remain competitive. And then exactly what everyone knew would happen (slash the entire point?) happened and tons of gymnasts started dismounting beam with a 2/1 because they could. Now the FIG is like, “Oh wait never mind, do a double tuck please.”

Tkatchev restriction – Starting in 2022, each routine may contain only one Tkatchev variation (without turning) from each line in the COP. What does that mean? Well, it means that you can only do one Tkatchev from each circle type in your routine. The toe-on Tkatchev variations—Ray, Church, Nabieva—are on the same line, which means you must pick only one to put in your routine. Theoretically, that should help alleviate some repetition issues.

Candle mount downgrade – There will be much rejoicing. The overused candle mount will be downgraded from a D to a C in the next code. We’re all happy about it.

Beam connection bonus changes – Connection bonus will return for acrobatic B +D combinations, performed in that order. (For example, back handspring + full-twisting back handspring.) Perfectly acceptable. That combination deserves bonus. I reserve the right to change my mind about that in November 2023, however, when it gets overdone.

Meanwhile, beam dismounts are no longer eligible for connection bonus. In theory, I don’t have a problem with awarding bonus for dismount combos on beam, but the way it was employed in the 2017 code was funky. You basically got an automatic 0.2 bonus for doing an F+ dismount, in addition to the value of the element. It didn’t work.

In other developments, the salto + scale bonus for 0.1 has been removed, you can’t get bonus for turn combinations on the same leg anymore, and you don’t get any connection bonus if you grab the beam during the combination.

Bars connection bonus changes – The combination of D + E flight elements has been downgraded from 0.2 bonus to 0.1. So that would be a combination like Pak + Van Leeuwen. Now it’s 0.1.

To get the 0.2 CV, these flight combinations must now be minimum E + E—like Church + Bhardwaj—or F + D—like the Nabieva + Pak.

I don’t exactly hate it, but this wasn’t on my list of most pressing changes. There were a lot of other things.

Reference judges have been removed – Previously at worlds/Olympics, there would be 2 D judges, 5 E judges, and 2 Reference judges whose scores were utilized in the event of E-score range problems or the like. Now, there will simply be 7 E judges, with the middle 3 scores averaged.

Elements

Nabieva downgrade – In addition to the clear-hip hecht 1/2, the other headline-grabbing value change is a downgrade to the Nabieva, which will go from G down to F. This is a popular change, which I understand because the Nabieva has gone from being a rare bird to being nearly compulsory for the best bars workers in recent years, but just changing this one does lead to some strange value bunching for other variations.

Another vault massacre – The realization that vault is still scoring way, way, way higher than the other events has led to another 0.4 destruction of pretty much all the vaults. So you’re going to have a new set of vault values to learn. Or you can just give up. That’s fine too. I basically still think the Yurchenko 1.5 is 5.5.

So, the Yurchenko full will be 4.2, the DTY will be 5.0, and the Amanar will be 5.4. The Cheng goes from 6.0 to 5.6, and the Biles goes from 6.4 to 6.0. On handspring vaults, the rudi goes from 5.8 to 5.4, the Yeo goes from 6.2 to 5.8, and the Produnova goes from 6.4 to 6.0. The Tsuk double full goes from 5.6 to 5.2.

On the topic of Tsuks, we also have a new 0.3 deduction for insufficient pre-flight turn. So if you’re not showing an actual 1/4 turn and we might mistake it for a handspring…

Piked Jaeger – The piked Jaeger has been downgraded back to a D from an E. Well, that didn’t last long. What was even the point of that in the first place?

Teza bars elements – Rightfully so, Elvira Teza’s bars elements have received an upgrade from D to E for both the Teza Pak and Teza bail.

Fan dismount downgrade – Christ, they hate this dismount. I don’t really get why. The Fan dismount is now all the way down to a C. When we started the last quad, it was an E. It’s now the same value as a double pike, which I think is a bit silly.

Split leap downgrade – The split leap on beam has been brought back down to an A instead of a B. Phew. Maybe now we won’t have to see them anymore.

Wolf hop 2/1 – The wolf jump or hop 2/1 has been upgraded from D to E, and you all know it’s going to be nightmarish.

Other elements

Bars – Clear straddle circle backward on HB with flight to low bar upgraded to C from B.

Beam – Two flairs beam mount upgraded to C from B.

Beam – Two flank circles to flair (Baitova) upgraded to D from C.

Beam – Cartwheel to front support mount downgraded to B from C.

Beam – The Yurchenko loop, Back dive from side position to front support upgraded to D from C.

Beam – Straight jump full downgraded to B from C. So goodbye straight jump fulls?

Floor – Straight jump full downgraded to A from B.

Floor – Wolf turn single upgraded B from A. Yeah, because that’s what we needed.

Named Skills

In the good department, the names have actually been added back to the skill boxes, which is much more helpful. In the bad department, still no one has bothered to fix all the spelling errors in the named-skill list. Sigh. How hard is that?

Other little weirdies

Artistry – The language for evaluating artistry has been rearranged and rephrased on beam and floor, probably without much real-world effect. But both beam and floor now include a deduction for “insufficient involvement of the body parts.” SO BETTER GET THAT GALLBLADDER LOOKING ARTISTIC.

The “failure to engage the audience” language has been removed on floor, as has one of our favorite examples, the prohibition of using Tango music but Polka movements. Won’t somebody please think of the Polka movements?!?!?!

Can’t intentionally stay on the ground after a fall – A new “duty of the gymnast” has been added to say that gymnasts can’t intentionally remain on the ground after a miss to stop the fall clock from starting, and can’t intentionally delay through adjusting of grips and whatnot, lest they incur a 0.3 deduction. How we think we’re going to be able to differentiate between intentional and necessary/incidental staying on the ground beats me.

Applications for new CV – The WTC will no longer consider submissions for new CV combinations, just elements. I mean, not that they were actually ever really considering them before, but you could theoretically apply.

Beam strength – Language has been added that beam should show variation in rhythm, strength, and pace of movement. This doesn’t actually mean anything, but it’s nice to see the actual use of the word strength in the code. Especially because the rest of it is still…

Feminine grace – The code of points has kept the language that “feminine grace” should also be considered in evaluation floor expression. Barfo.

Rolls and flairs – Rolls and flairs are now eligible to fulfill the turn requirement on beam.

Entire length of the beam – It appears the language requiring use of the entire beam is gone. Which is weird?

Ring leap evaluation – The language for a ring leap that receives no credit has been changed from “back foot below shoulders” to “back foot below crown of head.” Also a 0.1 deduction has been added for a straightened back leg.

Brush clarification – Brushing/touching the apparatus or mat with hands, but not falling (or grabbing the beam), is 0.3 off.

Yurchenko layouts – Removed language that layout, non-turning vaults should be credited as piked if they don’t reach a full stretched position at any point during the vault.

Changing the UB height – Previously, height increases of 10 cm were permitted on bars for gymnasts who touch the mat with their feet. It is now 5 cm.

Cannot use water on the beam – This has been added to the “undisciplined and abusive behavior” section. Because that’s what abuse is. Beam water.

No changes to the leotard rules – Alas. They’re still straight out of the Phoebe Emerson Charm School.

But at least male judges in women’s artistic are no longer required to wear a “white blouse” for competition.

Overtime – A gymnast must have gone at least a full second over time to get the deduction. The beam clock needs to say 1:31.

The addition of random capital words just everywhere – But for why?

THE FUTURE IS NOW – Breaking news, everyone. If you’re submitting a new skill, you no longer have to submit it via “electronic mail, facsimile, or post.” A “USB memory stick” is now the preferred method. Is this the Jetsons?!?!?!?!

What’s more, the code no longer claims that the floor music must be brought on a CD. But then how do you get it into the play machine?

Speaking of floor music, the human voice section of the code now says, “Any music which is not clearly a song or part of a song is accepted.” I mean, WE KNOW. But also what does this mean?

(Note: There are some other things, but they were too boring even for me.)

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