All posts by balancebeamsituation

Koper World Challenge Cup

The spring Challenge Cup series wrapped up over the weekend in Koper, featuring enough vault-related insanity to keep us satiated until the series picks up again in September. Or, like, until the real meets of the summer and whatnot. Here’s what happened.

Men’s Floor

Someone finally got all my memos. While I spent last week’s recap of Osijek’s floor final lamenting that Tomas Gonzalez’s execution should be compelling enough to outweigh landing errors and keep him ahead of most mushy-kneed mortals and yet SOMEHOW WASN’T, this week the judges fell into line and awarded Gonzalez an 8.8 execution score. That allowed him to take floor gold on the execution tiebreak over the superior difficulty of Milad Karimi.

Karimi was great, but…


Last week in Osijek, brand new teenage child Aurel Benovic was among several competitors who missed out on medals but impressed with execution and potential, and those qualities came through for him this weekend with more controlled landings and a serious upgrade in difficulty (now at 6.1) in a bronze medal performance. Watch out for this one in coming years.

Meanwhile, special commendation goes to the Norway federation for getting its male gymnasts shorts that fit. Note to the Japanese federation and those muumuus the whole team wears on floor.

Also everyone got their party favor bags from Kyle R’s birthday.

If there’s not an iPad in there…

Women’s Vault

Though the vault final was supposed to be the domain of home-nation hope and last week’s champion Teja Belak, it proved instead to be the Marina Nekrasova party. Nekrasova stormed in with an exceptional landing on a handspring layout full and a nearly-as-comfortable Tsuk 1.5 to take the gold medal.

Nekrasova’s vaulting was the highlight of the final, and while Teja Belak did well to land her vaults in a similar fashion to last weekend—and honestly had a bit stronger in-air execution than Nekrasova—she fell just short in the difficulty department to sit in second place. Continue reading Koper World Challenge Cup


Things Are Happening – May 31, 2019

A. A dissertation on the nature of the mixed combination bonus on women’s floor exercise

Since the dawn of humanity, it is our curiosity that has defined us as a people. The quest to seek out new frontiers, the passion to uncover the unknown, the

OK Simone has some upgrades.

She tweeted the gymternet to the ground this week by posting a Biles + front layout and a triple-twisting double back. I know.

I mean, girl was going out of bounds all over the place last season, so she’s got to start making these passes harder on herself, I guess.

So just to clarify, Simone won the floor title at worlds last year a full point ahead of silver medalist Morgan Hurd, and with a D score 0.9 higher than anyone else in the final. Now she’s planning to add an acro combination worth 0.2 and a new element that’s presumably going to be rated at I-value.

The Biles to front layout will replace the Biles + stag, for an upgrade of a tenth over last year’s peak D score of 6.7. What the triple double would replace…we don’t know yet. Potentially it would go in place of the double double tucked to add another 0.1, but there could be all kinds of rearranging of other passes as well. You wouldn’t put it past her to ditch the front 1/1 through to full-in for being too easy (I mean, what is she, an infant?) and swap out that full-in for a harder element in combo. Many, many options.

(Yes, I know, the triple double is on a tumble track, but also it’s Simone so of course she can, and at this point she wouldn’t be posting it if she weren’t adding it for real.)

Also, because I’ve been really into named skills lately: Naming conventions are such that the triple-double would be known as the Biles II, even though it would be her third eponymous skill, because you only number them within a specific apparatus, not overall. It would be her second named floor skill. Continue reading Things Are Happening – May 31, 2019

Canadian and Australian Nationals


At Canadian Nationals, what is becoming an increasingly fascinating and evenly matched intra-country rivalry between Ellie Black and Ana Padurariu delivered another thriller, with Ellie Black coming from behind to take the national title after trailing Padurariu by nearly 8 tenths following the first day.

On day 1, Padurariu put up a stellar performance and led the field on both bars and beam (bars a casual point better than anyone else in the competition), hitting cleanly enough to get the job done on vault and floor even though the D-score isn’t quite up there. Ellie Black hit 3-for-4 on that first day of competition as she did Normal Ellie on three pieces but missed beam to take her total down below Padurariu’s. The highlight of Black’s performance was the reemergence of her rudi (competed as her second vault), a potentially significant 4-tenth upgrade for her personal all-around goals and for a team that had just two competitors showing vault difficulties higher than 5.0 here.

On day 2, Black was the star, eradicating that beam miss from the first day to hit all four pieces and record a 56.608—the highest single-day AA score between her and Padurariu. Meanwhile, Padurariu came back to earth a little bit on the second day. She fell on beam on her side aerial + loso series and scored lower on bars— it wasn’t miss on bars or a bad routine, but she took out her Komova + bail combination from the first day and had a bit more trouble on the dismount, so the score was lower. On the bright side for Padurariu on day 2, she pumped up the floor difficulty to outscore even Olsen, potentially adding to Canada’s embarrassment of floor riches.

Third-place in the all-around went to Brooklyn Moors, who of course stole everyone’s life with her floor routine, scoring exceptionally well on the first day but falling on her final pass on day 2 to drop down those event standings.

While floor is always going to be the star for her, Moors won the beam title here with two strong hits—over 14 on both occasions—which to me is the more important accomplishment. As we look toward four-person teams in 2020, the need to deliver realistic routines on most apparatuses is increasing. By placing 1st on beam and 5th on bars here, Moors is continuing to show progress in that department.

Also showing progress in the beam department was Shallon Olsen, who built upon her evolution into a beamer in her freshman season at Alabama by placing fifth there. She also won the vault title because duh.

Fourth position in the all-around belonged to Isabela Onyshko, who had a couple iffy moments here and there but put up pretty competitive peak scores on bars and beam, going 13.550 on bars on the first day and 13.600 on beam on the second day.

Junior Zoe Allaire-Bourgie competed with the seniors here due to excellence and was sitting 4th all-around after the first day but did not compete on day 2. Continue reading Canadian and Australian Nationals

That’s Not My Name

Oh, there are still so many journeys we must take to the center of the code. The last edition addressed Nellie Kim’s obsession with naming every single possible skill after herself.

Today, some of the other mistakes in the named-skills section of the code of points. Because that’s a thing we have to deal with. All of the mistakes in the official rulebook that us randoms have to try to sort out.

I’ll begin by giving the code a small sliver of credit—and then immediately taking it away—for ultimately rectifying one of the more famous mistakes in the named skills section.

The Stroe…Cojocar?

Once upon a time, Romanian gymnast Silvia Stroescu’s name appeared in the code of points, credited with performing the front 2.5 on floor at 2001 worlds.

One tiny problem: Stroescu didn’t compete the front 2.5 on floor at 2001 worlds. Or anything close to it. Fun!

The skill should have gone to her teammate, Sabina Cojocar, who did in fact successfully compete that skill at 2001 worlds. But, you know, all Romanians look alike or something.

For years and years, this skill was mistakenly attributed to Stroescu, which everyone knew but no one cared enough to do anything about.

But then suddenly, in the 2013 update, the code got its act together and corrected the mistake to appropriately award the front 2.5 to its rightful owner, Sabina Cojocar. Gasp! We were all very surprised.

Sadly, the Third Law of FIG Mistakes states that errors in the code of points can be neither created nor destroyed, so the error simply had to alter form and be subsumed into another entry. In the current edition of the code, the front 2.5 is now awarded to both Cojocar and Svetlana Tarasevich, even though Tarasevich never performed it either. Tarasevich’s eponymous skill is supposed to be the front 2/1, not the 2.5. Continue reading That’s Not My Name

Osijek World Challenge Cup

The series of spring World Challenge Cups continued this weekend with our annual whirlwind two-stop tour of the mid-level agricultural centers of eastern Europe, starting with Osijek, Croatia. Here’s what went down.

Men’s Floor

The Artem Show turned out to be the Artem Show, to the surprise of zero.

With a massive difficulty advantage over the rest of the competitors and among the field’s most comfortable landings (aside from a near bout of vomiting-off-starboard while trying to hold the stick on his side pass, but never mind) Dolgopyat distanced himself from everyone else and took gold my nearly 6 tenths.

Primarily on the basis of extra difficulty, Kirill Prokopev of Russia took the second position, while also continuing to take first position in the “he would be an offensive stereotype of a Russian man if he weren’t an actual person” contest. This is what Americans think all Russian people look like. Just to be clear, in our heads he’s saying, “Vodka Vodka Mother Russia Nesting Doll Babushka” over and over again on a loop. Don’t worry about it.

Our Chilean prince Tomas Gonzalez did win the bronze, but in unacceptable news, he was given an execution score lower than both of the top two, largely the result of a couple short landings early on with small hops forward. But, his E score did not appropriately reward his superior execution of skills in the air or the way he moves choreographically into his cartwheel before the wide-arm handstand, and you need to break down the gates of the FIG about it.

Elsewhere, we saw extremely stylish work from Luka Terbovsek of Slovenia in fourth, with lovely twisting and tucked positions and some very secure landings on his early passes. Also a small infant child named Krisztofer Mezaros of Hungary sneaked into the final somehow and had a learning experience.

Women’s Vault

The women’s vault final proved deeper than in Zhaoqing…in that we had the full complement of eight contenders for the final.

Still, as the only contender with two vaults of 5+ in D score, world cup veteran Teja Belak entered as the comfortable favorite. Despite being saddled with the burden of wearing her Heart of the Ocean leotard again, she successfully hit both vaults on both days of competition to win the title. We’ve seen meets lately where Belak will qualify well then struggle with the handspring front full in the final, but this time there was little issue aside from some lunges on landing.

By showing somewhat more landing control, Angelina Radivilova gave Belak a run with a comfortable full and something in between a Podkopayeva and a Lopez (credited as Lopez), though with a disadvantage of 6 tenths in D, she wasn’t able to make up enough ground. Continue reading Osijek World Challenge Cup

Things Are Happening – May 24, 2019

A. NCAA code changes

Acting in his official capacity as essential interpreter between the NCAA coaches and us lowly peasants, Greg Marsden has kept us updated on the decisions made by the WCGA about rule changes in NCAA for next season.

The big-girl committee votes in June on whether to adopt any of these things for realsies, so for the moment consider these merely as proposals.

The big headline is the lowering of the base value of routines from 9.5 to 9.4. Currently, routines start at 9.5 and have to earn 5 tenths of bonus to get up to a 10.0 start. With a 9.4 base instead, everyone would now have to earn 6 tenths of bonus to get up to 10.0.

What I like about this proposal is that it functions as a relatively non-micromanaged way of encouraging a little more risk. It says you have to do something else, but it’s up to you what that something is. An understandable criticism of more specific changes like requiring a same-bar release (which was not recommended by the WCGA) is that it would lead to even more boring and compulsory routine construction than we have now.

Part of the hope from the 9.4 proposal is that teams will have to get a little more creative in adding that extra tenth of risk so that we’re not seeing the same routine over and over and over again. I also hope this would help brings bars, beam, and floor a little more into line with vault, where much of the lineup on most teams is not starting from a 10 these days. If we see more teams say, “Well, we’re just going to have to put up a 9.9 start or two on floor now,” I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think that’s a positive for keeping the events scoring similarly and a positive for differentiation.

Of course, in reality everyone’s just going to figure out the lamest and most boring possible way of adding another tenth and do that. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t going to affect too many routines on the very top teams, where the majority of gymnasts already have more than 5 tenths of bonus—or have options of easily adding another tenth that they’ve only chosen not to perform because there’s no point.

As a way of undercutting its own decision and rendering it kind of toothless (the NCAA gymnastics special), some bonus and skill values have been increased accordingly with the lowering of the base value. You can check out Marsden’s thread for the whole rundown of skills.

On bars, those who have a D same-bar release or an E transition would get an extra tenth of bonus and therefore wouldn’t need to alter their routines. People with Shap + bail and a DLO or FTDT dismount would also not have to change their routines because that content already gets 6 tenths in bonus. So don’t expect to see a lot of changes in bars composition next season.

I would have preferred to see some other adjustments considered on bars—saying that a bail doesn’t fulfill the turning element requirement anymore (you should have to show the ability to pirouette as part of your breadth of bars competency) or downgrading the DLO and FTDT dismounts from E to D—to require a little bit more be done on the bars, but no luck.

On beam, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the idea of the double wolf turn being bumped up from D to E. Fun. So very fun. Because when I watch NCAA, I think, “This really needs more people attempting double wolf turns.” They’re also planning to bump up some CV for combination dismounts, but one thing I really like is the proposal that acro + dismount combinations on beam can no longer fulfill up to level. Continue reading Things Are Happening – May 24, 2019

The Kims

In the year 2004, one Nellie Kim—legendary Soviet gymnast of the 1970s—was elected head of the Women’s Technical Committee. At that time, there were exactly zero skills named after her in the women’s code of points. Today, there are 7.

What happened there? Only one of my mostest favoritest things in all of gymnastics—the Nellification of the code of points. Every time a new edition of the code of points was published, Nellie Kim would just suddenly drop in more and more skills that she decided to retroactively name after herself. Due to modesty. Icon.

It’s a good thing Donatella is in charge of the WTC now because we were about three years away from the city of St. Petersburg becoming Nelliegrad.

Admittedly, the process of naming skills in gymnastics has been subject to disastrous disorganization and inconsistently applied rules since forever (many, many names are missing or inaccurate or lost to time), so some of this was a matter of rectifying past oversights where innovators of skills have gone unrecognized for decades. A noble goal. Of course, this noble consideration was afforded to precisely one person, Nellie Kim, and no others.

So let’s take a trip down Nellie lane to examination all the skills that she decided to turn into The Kim.

Also fun—Nellie cites her exact competitions in naming every single one these skills after herself (much appreciated, wish that process had begun sooner for everyone). Meanwhile, Chellsie Memmel’s name is still misspelled 15 years later and the toe-on Counter-Kim is still listed as “To Be Confirmed,” but every single breath Nellie Kim ever took is fastidiously recorded and dated for posterity.


Handspring forward on, 1.5 off – 1974 World Championships

Ah, the youngest member of the Kim septuplets. Nellie named this skill after herself starting in the 2013 update to the code of points, citing her completion of it at the 1974 world championships, 39 years prior.

As far as I can tell, no video exists of Kim vaulting at 1974 worlds. Awfully convenient. Since Kim did not compete in the AA final or advance to the vault final at those world championships, we’ll have to take her word for it that the 8.600 she received on vault in the team optionals portion of that competition reflects her successful completion of this new vault.

Tsukahara tucked 1/1 – 1976 Olympics

This vault was among the first generation of Kims to be added to the code of points in those early-days editions of the open code in 2006ish, and this is where I’ll be nice and talk about Kim as a difficulty innovator who absolutely merits having multiple skills named after herself in the code. As far as I can tell, she was the first person to complete this skill at a worlds/Olympics at those Montreal games. Continue reading The Kims