Category Archives: Code of Points

Attack of the Side Leap

In 2016, the split jump 1/2 and straddle jump 1/2 on beam both had B value.

Oh, what simple times those were.

Carefree almost.

For 2017, both the split jump 1/2 and straddle jump 1/2 have been revalued and bumped up to C elements.

At the same time, the one-tenth difficulty bonus for leaps beginning and ending in side position has been expanded to include those leaps with just a 1/2 twist.

Add it all up, and what does that spell?

It spells that the split jump 1/2 from side position and straddle jump 1/2 from side position, elements that 9 months ago would have been B skills, are now D skills.















CSI: Your Floor Score

The judges are not here for your trash leaps.

At U.S. Classic, the floor-credit whip (you know that) was cracked in all directions, at everyone, frequently to the tune of 3- to 5-tenth downgrades for those attempting multiple turns and twisting leaps. Basically, if you’re wondering what elements everyone got credit for, the answer is nothing, and she didn’t.

And rightfully so.

The moral of U.S. Classic is that just because a split leap 1.5 is a D element, that doesn’t mean you should try it. Really. You won’t get credit anyway.

Let’s start with Jade Carey, who recorded a still-impressive 5.7 D that currently ranks as one of the highest in the world.

Double double tucked (H)
Double layout 1/1 (H)
Double L turn (D)
L hop 1/1 (C)
Switch leap 1/1 (D)
Front 2/1 (D)
Split leap 1.5 (D)
Double tuck 1/1 (E)
Acro – HHED = 2.5
Dance – DDDC = 1.5
Composition requirements = 2.0
CV = 0.0
Attempted D-SCORE = 6.0
 Awarded D-SCORE = 5.7

Carey has just 8 countable skills in the routine, which means she’s relying on getting full credit for all of them. Other gymnasts will throw in backup C dance elements like switch rings just in case, though the risk there is that more elements = more deductions.

In this case, Carey would not have been given the double L turn, receiving only B value for the single L turn and bringing her down to 5.8. Then, the split leap 1.5 would have been bumped down to a split leap 1/1 for C value, which brings her down to the 5.7.

We don’t know what was downgraded because we don’t get judging receipts (heaven forbid there be some transparency), but we can make educated guesses.

This isn’t a dire D situation. A 5.7 is still quite high, and she’s taking a calculated risk in the hope that occasionally she’ll receive more than 5.7. It will be tough to get credit for the split 1.5, but completing that double L to get up to 5.9 is doable and makes for a very competitive D-score.

Others were downgraded more severely.

Continue reading CSI: Your Floor Score

Who’s Winning the Beam Code?

Last year, I did a couple comparisons (1, 2) to see what the major 2016 beam routines would score under the 2017 code, a way of examining who needed to make the most changes to their routines (and what kinds of changes needed to be made) to remain competitive in 2017.

Now that we’ve actually seen a hefty crop of reorganized 2017 beam routines, it’s time to revisit those same beam routines to find out who has been most successful in minimizing the loss of D—and how they’ve done it.

In the first column, you’ll see the gymnast’s 2016 beam routine evaluated with the 2016 code, and in the second column, you’ll see the current 2017 routines evaluated with the 2017-2020 code.

Let’s begin, as last time, with the composition queen, Sanne Wevers. Because her composition varies wildly basically every time she does a beam routine, I’ve combined her two routines from Euros to try to see the full breadth of what she may be intending to go for.

Sanne Wevers
2016 2017
Bhs 1/1 mount – E Bhs mount + Wolf jump 1/1 + Bhs 1/1 – D+D+D = 0.4 CV, 0.1 SB
Double L spin – E Double L spin – E
Side aerial + side aerial + aerial + wolf – D+D+D+A = 0.4 CV Side aerial + side aerial – D+D
Front aerial + split jump – D+B = 0.1 CV
Triple spin – E Triple spin – E
L spin + single spin + double spin – C+A+D = 0.2 CV L spin + single spin + double spin – C+A+D = 0.2 CV
Switch split + bhs 1/1 – C+D = 0.1 CV Split leap + straight 1/1 + bhs – B+C+B = 0.1 SB
Gainer layout 1/1 – E Gainer layout 1/1 – D
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – EEDDD – 2.2 Acro – DDDDD – 2.0
Dance – EED – 1.4 Dance – EED – 1.4
CV – 0.7 CV – 0.9
Total D – 6.8 Total D – 6.3

Sanne’s current combined kitchen-sink routine holds up OK, though she is still losing the full five tenths compared to last year’s late-season routines and hasn’t actually attempted this new 6.3 all together in one routine yet in 2017. Right now, that final split leap combo appears to be just a backup plan in case she doesn’t get her preceding spin combo, which makes sense since that final combo is a lot of deduction risk just for one tenth in series bonus. So, she may actually be intending a 6.2 right now, not 6.3.

The removal of non-rebounding acro CV was always going to be difficult for Sanne to adapt to, but she’s currently attempting to replace it with the opening mount combination. It’s a tough combo to get every time, but I do like the wolf jump 1/1 + bhs 1/1 choice. That’s a really valuable combination now that the wolf jump has been upgraded, and it’s pretty doable for her.

I also expect that what we’re seeing right now is work-in-progress stuff with 28 other CV backup plans ready for later in the year. Because Sanne.

For instance, she has broken up the side aerials from the front aerial for now, but those side aerials should still be used for series bonus. They’re screaming for some random B to be connected afterward for another tenth. (Or to combine two lines in her routine and do side aerial + Side aerial + split jump + front aerial. Very Sanne.)

Eythora Thorsdottir
Sissone + side aerial + Korbut – A+D+B = 0.1 CV Split + side aerial + Korbut – B+D+B = 0.1 CV, 0.1 SB
Split ring + sheep – D+D = 0.2 CV Split ring – D
Illusion – D Illusion – D
Split leap + aerial – A+D = 0.1 CV Aerial + Split + Stag ring = D+B+B = 0.1 CV, 0.1 SB
L spin + switch split + Y spin + single spin – C+C+C+A = 0.3 CV L spin + switch split + Y spin – C+C+C = 0.2 CV, 0.1 SB
Round-off + triple full – B+F Round-off + triple full – B+F = 0.2 CV
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – FDD – 1.4 Acro – FDD – 1.4
Dance – DDDCC – 1.8 Dance – DDCCC – 1.7
CV – 0.7 CV – 0.9
Total D – 6.4 Total D – 6.0

Eythora has been able to cut her losses to just four tenths fairly comfortably, predominately because she can take advantage of the new dismount CV, which mitigates her only major loss from the 2016 routine, the downgrade of the sheep jump. Continue reading Who’s Winning the Beam Code?

2017 versus 2016: A Beam Comparison Part Deux

Welcome to the second edition of 2017 beam treatments. Following up on the first post, here are a few more comparisons of beam D scores to see how the intended 2016 D measures up to what the routine would be given under the 2017-2020 code, featuring a few gymnasts that you asked for and a few others that I think are interesting.

Let’s start with Ragan Smith. I’ll use the Patterson version of her routine since I assume that perfecting it will be the aim for 2017.

Ragan Smith
2016 2017
Double wolf turn – D Double wolf turn – D
Switch + straddle – C+A Switch + straddle – C+A
Bhs + layout – B+E = 0.1 CV Bhs + layout – B+E = 0.1 CV
Full twisting back tuck – F Full twisting back tuck – F
Punch front + sissone – D+A = 0.1 CV Punch front + sissone – D+A
Aerial + pike jump – D+A = 0.1 CV Aerial + pike jump – D+A
Sheep – D Sheep – C
Bhs + bhs + Patterson – B+B+G = 0.1 CV Bhs + bhs + Patterson – B+B+G = 0.3 CV
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – GFEDD – 2.6 Acro – GFEDD – 2.6
Dance – DDC – 1.1 Dance – DCC – 1.0
CV – 0.4 CV – 0.4
Total D – 6.6 Total D – 6.0

The value of the Patterson combination is quite critical in making up for the lost CV from those D+A connections. With the Patterson, the only real hit Smith’s routine takes is from the downgrade of the sheep jump. Without the Patterson, however, her 2017 D score would be just 5.6, which won’t be all that competitive.

Based on what I’m seeing in these D scores, a difficulty in the lowish 6s is about what the top beam gymnasts should be aiming for in 2017. (Later in the quad, expect scores to go higher as coaches learn how to work the new CV/copy the more inventive countries.) A lot of top beamers are looking at 5.8s for their current routines, but most of those 5.8s can be reorganized with minimal pain to get another couple tenths. Continue reading 2017 versus 2016: A Beam Comparison Part Deux

2017 versus 2016: A Beam Comparison

As an addendum to my flitting, meadow-based prance through the new Code of Points, it’s time to take a closer look at beam. Here, I’ve selected a few example routines from major beam players in 2016 (chosen for definitely important reasons and absolutely not just because they were the easiest to find on youtube). Below each routine is a comparison of what the intended D score was in 2016 to what the D score would be for the same routine under the 2017-2020 code.

It’s a way of starting to become comfortable with the new code (and as such, condescending and snarky corrections are most welcome), as well as an opportunity to dissect some of the significant code changes in order to see how beam composition will have to adjust in 2017 to avoid the bigger pitfalls.

Clearly, some gymnasts will have to make more changes than others.

Let’s start with Sanne Wevers’ routine at the 2016 Test Event.

Sanne Wevers
2016 2017
Bhs 1/1 mount – E Bhs 1/1 mount – E
Double L spin – E Double L spin – E
Side aerial + side aerial + aerial – D+D+D = 0.3 CV Side aerial + side aerial + aerial – D+D+D = 0.1 CV
Triple spin – E Triple spin – E
L spin + single spin + double spin – C+A+D = 0.2 CV L spin + single spin + double spin – C+A+D = 0.2 CV
Switch split + bhs 1/1 – C+D = 0.1 CV Switch split + bhs 1/1 – C+D = 0.1 CV
Gainer layout dismount – D Gainer layout dismount – C
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – EDDDD – 2.1 Acro – EDDDC – 2.0
Dance – EED – 1.4 Dance – EED – 1.4
CV – 0.6 CV – 0.4
Total D – 6.6 Total D – 5.8

The D score for this particular routine would decrease by 0.8 in 2017, with two significant obstacles emerging. The main one is the elimination of the 0.1 CV for non-rebounding D+D connections, something Wevers was taking advantage of twice in that side aerial + side aerial + aerial walkover combination. She would still receive the 0.1 series bonus, but not the extra 0.2 for connecting the individual D skills.

The other is the dismount. At the Olympics, Wevers upgraded her dismount to a gainer “layout” full, which is a D value in the new code, but her Test Event routine highlights the problem for those still performing the regular gainer layout. The gainer layout is now a C, yet in the above routine, Wevers would still have to count it among her 8 skills—in place of the D-valued bhs 1/1—because it’s the dismount. As in the previous code, the dismount must be counted.

And that, children, is how the WTC eliminates unwanted skills.

It’ll be interesting to see what those who were relying on non-rebounding combinations do in the next quad: do they give in and go for rebounding acro, or just add more spin combinations?

Speaking of non-rebounding, how’s Aliya doing?

Let’s take one of Mustafina’s good ones, where she got credit for an acro series, to see how the changes would affect her.

Aliya Mustafina
2016 2017
Double spin – D Double spin – D
Split leap + sissone + side somi – A+A+D = 0.1 CV Split leap + sissone + side somi – B+A+D
Switch 1/2 + onodi – D+D = 0.2 CV Switch 1/2 + onodi – D+D = 0.2 CV
Side aerial – D Side aerial – D
Aerial + aerial + bhs – D+D+B = 0.2 CV Aerial + aerial + bhs – D+D+B = 0.1 CV
Switch ring – E Switch ring – E
Round-off + double tuck – B+D Round-off + double tuck – B+D
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – DDDDD – 2.0 Acro – DDDDD – 2.0
Dance – EDD – 1.3 Dance – EDD – 1.3
CV – 0.5 CV – 0.3
Total D – 6.3 Total D – 5.6

Aliya would lose 0.7 overall for this routine: the 0.5 CR, 0.1 for the sissone + side somi (since D acro + A dance no longer gets connection value—all of those A dance elements will be replaced with split jumps in the next quad since that’s a B now…………….), and 0.1 for the two aerial walkovers combination, running into the same problem that Wevers does.

As far as I can tell, non-rebounding acro will still be allowed to fulfill the 0.5 CR for an “acro series,” so if Aliya does decide to keep going, the Legend of Aliya and the Acro Series might live on, and on, and on.

I actually thought the new code would be worse for Aliya’s routine composition, but she doesn’t lose all that much and could adjust around the new regulations pretty simply and comfortably.

Now, let’s address the winner of the new beam code, Simone Biles. Obviously.

Simone Biles
2016 2017
Wolf spin 2.5 – E Wolf spin 2.5 – D
Barani – a fantasy mystery Barani – probably definitely F now?
Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV
Punch front + sissone – D+A = 0.1 CV Punch front + sissone – D+A
Switch split + switch 1/2 + back pike – C+D+C = 0.2 CV Switch split + switch 1/2 + back pike – C+D+C = 0.3 CV
Aerial + wolf – D+A = 0.1 CV Aerial + wolf – D+A
Bhs + bhs + full twisting double tuck – B+B+G = 0.1 CV Bhs + bhs + full twisting double tuck – B+B+G = 0.3 CV
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – GEDDC – 2.3 Acro – GFDDC – 2.4
Dance – EDC – 1.2 Dance – DDC – 1.1
CV – 0.7 CV – 0.8
Total D – 6.7 Total D – 6.3

In the 2017 code, the half turn into back tuck is an F skill instead of an E. Apparently, that is what Simone performs? He says with a question mark? But, then, what is the value of the half-twisting body chuck? (No, I’m literally never letting it go.)

Biles definitely has received F credit for that barani in the past too, but if you want to give her F credit for sure now instead of just sometimes-mostly-ish-in-the-US-probably, then go for it.

Simone’s current routine composition fares very well in the new code. She does drop some tenths (the wolf 2.5 downgrade and D+A elimination take her down a total of 0.3), but critically, she would make that value back in other places without any composition changes.

Switch+switch 1/2+back pike picks up an extra tenth because of the new mixed-series bonus, and the new dismount CV is basically made for her. Without any composition changes at all, her total CV would actually increase.

Laurie Hernandez’s routine is a somewhat different tale.

Note: this video is of her championships routine, but the chart below uses her updated composition from later in the summer because it’s more interesting and more current, with the bhs+bhs+double pike replaced by round-off+double pike, and the lost tenth made up with an additional wolf out of the front tuck.

Laurie Hernandez
2016 2017
Front pike – E Front pike – E
Aerial + sissone + split – D+A+A = 0.1 CV Aerial + sissone + split – D+A+A
Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV
Sheep – D Sheep – C
Front tuck + wolf – D+A = 0.1 CV Front tuck + wolf – D+A
Side aerial – D Side aerial – D
Switch split + switch 1/2 – C+D = 0.1 CV Switch split + switch 1/2 – C+D = 0.1 CV
Switch ring – E Switch ring – E
Round-off + double pike – B+E Round-off + double pike – B+E
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – EEDDD – 2.2 Acro – EEDDD – 2.2
Dance – EDD – 1.3 Dance – EDC – 1.2
CV – 0.5 CV – 0.3
Total D – 6.5 Total D – 5.7

Laurie does not get off the hook quite as easily as Simone. She also loses D+A tenths and another tenth from the downgrade of the sheep (making that skill essentially worthless—time to learn a new D dance element everyone), but unlike Simone, Laurie’s current composition doesn’t make up those tenths anywhere else.

When Laurie returns in the next quad (when), I anticipate that learning a more difficult beam dismount will be a very high priority. Without it, she’s in danger of falling behind. Solely because she doesn’t get dismount CV, she goes from being two tenths behind Simone in 2016 to five tenths behind under the new code.

(We may have wondered about the advisability of Ragan Smith trying to add that Patterson in 2016, but it’s SOOO the 2017 code.)

Let’s talk about Aly.

Aly Raisman
2016 2017
Front pike + wolf – E+A = 0.1 CV Front pike + wolf – E+A
Bhs + layout – B+E = 0.1 CV Bhs + layout – B+E = 0.1 CV
Switch split + back tuck – C+C = 0.1 CV Switch split + back tuck – C+C
Side aerial – D Side aerial – D
Switch 1/2 – D Switch 1/2 – D
Front tuck + split – D+A = 0.1 CV Front tuck + split – D+B = 0.1
L spin + single spin – C+A = 0.1 CV L spin + single spin – C+A = 0.1 CV
Round-off + Patterson – B+G Round-off + Patterson – B+G = 0.2 CV
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – GEEDD – 2.5 Acro – GEEDD – 2.5
Dance – DCC – 1.0 Dance – DCC – 1.0
CV – 0.5 CV – 0.5
Total D – 6.5 Total D – 6.0

Parts of the new code are no friend to Raisman, but not all of it. In 2016, Raisman was using a crapload of those random 0.1 CVs to get her D score into the competitive zone and will now have to adjust for their demise in a couple places. In addition to the loss of a D acro + A dance, she won’t get CV for the switch split + back tuck either, a combination that must now include one D element to get bonus.

Like Simone, however, Raisman is saved by the dismount and the additional 0.2 that will come from connecting a round-off to a Patterson.

As alluded to in the code write-up, a Patterson is now worth four tenths more than a double pike: two tenths because of the skill value and two more tenths for the automatic connection. No one is doing a Patterson from standing.

The biggest victim of the new code may be Flavia Saraiva, as best illustrated by her attempted 6.8 difficulty from the Test Event.

Flavia Saraiva
2016 2017
Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV Bhs + layout stepout + layout stepout – B+C+C = 0.2 CV
Round-off + layout – B+E = 0.1 CV Round-off + layout – B+E = 0.1 CV
Switch split + split – C+A Switch split + split – C+A
Switch ring + sheep – E+D = 0.2 CV Switch ring + sheep – E+C = 0.1 CV
Punch front + wolf – D+A = 0.1 CV Punch front + wolf – D+A
Aerial + aerial + side somi – D+D+D = 0.3 CV Aerial + aerial + side somi – D+D+D = 0.1 CV
Round-off + double pike – B+E Round-off + double pike – B+E
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – EEDDD – 2.2 Acro – EEDDD – 2.2
Dance – EDC – 1.2 Dance – ECC – 1.1
CV – 0.9 CV – 0.5
Total D – 6.8 Total D – 5.8

Saraiva’s routine would drop a full point in the new quad because she basically does every single thing that has been downgraded in the official 2017 NONE FOR FLAVIA BYE Code of Points.

She loses two tenths of non-rebounding connection, another because of D+A, and two more for the downgrade of the sheep jump (one for the skill and one for the combination since it’s no longer D+D, which is required to get two tenths).

Saraiva is fully capable of getting back up there with the top Ds, but she’ll basically want to scrap the second half of this routine and start over.

By contrast, Eythora almost gets Flavia-ed by the new code, but she is saved by her dismount and spins.

Eythora Thorsdottir
2016 2017
Sissone + side aerial + swingdown – A+D+B = 0.1 CV Sissone + side aerial + swingdown – A+D+B
Split ring + sheep – D+D = 0.2 CV Split ring + sheep – D+C = 0.1 CV
Illusion – D Illusion – D
Split leap + aerial – A+D = 0.1 CV Split leap + aerial – B+D = 0.1 CV
L spin + switch split + Y spin + single spin – C+C+C+A = 0.3 CV L spin + switch split + Y spin + single spin – C+C+C+A = 0.4 CV
Round-off + triple full – B+F Round-off + triple full – B+F = 0.2 CV
CR – 2.5 CR – 2.0
Acro – FDD – 1.4 Acro – FDD – 1.4
Dance – DDDCC – 1.8 Dance – DDCCC – 1.7
CV – 0.7 CV – 0.8
Total D – 6.4 Total D – 5.9

The new code is not that happy with Eythora’s composition. It’s not having this sissone + side aerial nonsense or this sheep jump nonsense, but as was pointed out in the comments, the split leap becomes a B in the new code (BECAUSE WHY), so that’s still eligible for connection tenths when paired with D acro.

And yet, the new code saves Eythora like an endangered swan because she has an F dismount, and because the code is still desperately in love with spin combinations.

By my reading of the new series bonus rules, Eythora’s L spin + switch split + Y spin combo would qualify for an additional series-bonus tenth since dance elements can be used now. But we’ll have to see. Are spins definitely part of that?

In general, the most effectively HUGE-D beam routines in the next quad will have F or G dismounts and will also take advantage of three-element mixed dance/acro combinations that can get individual CV as well as a series bonus. So basically Simone’s exact routine.

2017-2020 Code of Points: A Deep Dive

The 2016 Olympics are officially behind us. I know that because I’ve already reached the point where it took me a second to remember who won men’s floor. I want to say…Herb?

Rio is old news. Our shiny new toy is the next quadrennium in all its inevitably grotesque horrors (and also beauty?). The first step in preparing for a new quad is pretending like you’re actually going to remember what all the code changes are, even though you will absolutely think the Amanar is still a 6.3 for at least 3 more years. Like a loser.

Thankfully, the 2017-2020 code has already been bestowed upon us (a couple times). The latest version will be considered up to date until such time as Her Nellieship decides that it’s garbage again.

With our new holy book in hand, let’s review the major and minor changes worth caring about and decide exactly how probably terrible they’re all going to be.


Item #1: WE ARE THE FINAL FOUR (composition requirements)

As with the Olympic teams in the 2020 quadrennium, five becomes four in the realm of composition requirements as well. Our trusted 5 CRs have been reduced to four, lowering the total composition requirement from 2.50 to 2.00.

Obviously, you say, they finally got rid of that worthless, hideous, and frankly disturbing passage-of-dance-elements requirement on floor!

Ah ha ha. Heavens no. That would make too much sense. Rigor mortis running must be protected at all costs!

Instead, the requirement for a D-level dismount has been removed for bars, beam, and floor.

Verdict: Perfectly acceptable. Ideally, it will encourage greater dismount variety (particularly on bars, where it is much needed) as there will be no real punishment for competing a C dismount other than its being worth a tenth less than a D. No double-jeopardy CR punishment as well.

This change is mostly for the benefit of the lower-level elites (and Romanian bars), allowing them to remain slightly more competitive with simpler dismounts. It will have no immediate effect on the routines of the top gymnasts, other than forcing everyone to get accustomed to D scores that are 0.5 lower.

Next quad, a D score in the high 5s will be good again, and any D score in the 6s will be top-of-the-line. Continue reading 2017-2020 Code of Points: A Deep Dive

2016 Vaults in Review

The tyranny of the yurchenko full. Since the dawn of life on earth, we have been hearing about the wicked prevalence of yurchenko fulls on vault and how a lineup consisting of six of the same average, snoozer vaults is super boring. Then, in the year 2015, the NCAA coaches did something shocking. They actually decided to get up from their Rip Van Winkle naps and try to change the rules in order to improve the sport. I know. I’m still not over it. They downgraded the yurchenko full and (theoretically) the yurchenko half to a 9.95 start value with the dual aims of increasing variety on vault and encouraging/rewarding those who are able to show more difficulty. With a season of vaults under the new values behind us, let’s look into how it actually worked.

A cursory glance at the lineups of the top teams tells us that we did see a greater variety of vaults this season than in recent years, though usually by about one vault per team. Oklahoma is vaulting three yfulls in 2016 compared to four last year. Florida and UCLA both have four yfulls this year instead of five like last year. LSU and Georgia were already showing a number of higher-difficulty vaults last year and stayed constant at those numbers. Utah showed one 1.5 and five fulls again this year, and Auburn’s non-full options remain the same. Alabama and Michigan adapted the most among the top tier, each showing three 1.5s (when Casanova was healthy), compared to one most of last year for both teams.

The change has come about pretty much the way we all expected, with a number of top vaulters who have always been fully capable of performing 1.5s upgrading back to vaults they used to perform, like Kennedy Baker, Haley Scaman, Lauren Beers, Mack Brannan, Talia Chiarelli, and Elizabeth Price to the DTY, providing some more variety in their teams’ lineups, as much as you can consider a yurchenko 1.5 instead of a yurchenko full “variety.”

We’ve also seen a few 1.5s make it into vault lineups they weren’t making previously from the likes of Breanna Hughes and Pua Hall. Hall is an interesting example of someone who prooooobably wouldn’t be making that lineup if the 1.5 and the full were the same value because her landing gets a little 9.750, but the extra .05 in SV makes it worthwhile compared to an average full.

It isn’t worth it for everyone, however. We know Bridget Sloan can do a 1.5. We all lived through the “BRIDGET SLOAN IS TRAINING AN AMANAR YOU GUYS I SWEAR” years, but she has stayed with the full all season to get a more reliable score and, primarily, to frustrate Kathy Johnson who always thinks she’s going to do a 1.5 and is always disappointed. Not every gymnast who can do a 1.5 has been encouraged to do so by the paltry gift of an extra .05. 

Less common, but still occurring, are Hunter Price situations. These are the pot of gold from the change in values. Price’s handspring pike 1/2 has been on the cusp of that vault lineup forever but wasn’t quite worth it in the lineup. She has used the .05 advantage to push her way into Oklahoma’s six and provide a little extra variety. 

I have not yet addressed those vaults-that-shall-not-be-named that masquerade as arabians and get a 10.0 SV, mostly because I’m done talking about them forever. The rule just needs to change for next year, though certainly teams have been getting an extra boost of 10.0 vaults and alleged variety by exploiting that loophole. This is the one area in which the new vault values have been a clear and indisputable negative, adding controversy where there should be none and confusion where there should be clarity. 

Vault variety is not all the way there yet, and the lineup composition is not too too different than it was in previous years, but it’s better. It will take some time for the teams to fully adapt. Next year, they should be more ready for it. For now, the yurchenko full remains the dominant vault, and vault lineups are still a yurchenko parade with only a minority of teams showing any other entries at all. It’s going to be very hard to change that at the NCAA level because yurchenko is the entry people perform in JO. Changes would have to come at the JO level if we really want to see equal numbers of handspring and tsuk vaults in NCAA.

Now, I’ve limited this discussion to the top teams, mostly because those are the teams for which I can recall the vault lineups from last year in order to make a comparison. The coaches really should have to submit their vaulting programs to me so that we all know what everyone has been doing each year. The big concern raised over the years about changing the vault values, however, concerns those other mid-ranked teams. The assumption was that only the top teams would really be able to adapt to the new values by upgrading to 1.5s, leaving the mid-ranked teams to wallow in their lower-scoring fulls, thus reducing parity and the opportunity for upsets.

Did that happen? Let’s find out.

For each of the last 10 seasons, I’ve listed the #1 vault RQS, the #20 vault RQS, and the difference between them to see how the margin has grown or narrowed between the best and the middle.

#1 RQS: 49.445
#20 RQS: 49.050
Difference: 0.395

#1 RQS: 49.560
#20 RQS: 49.065
Difference: 0.495

#1 RQS: 49.550
#20 RQS: 49.140
Difference 0.410

#1 RQS: 49.495
#20 RQS: 49.160
Difference: 0.335

#1 RQS: 49.510
#20 RQS: 49.070
Difference: 0.440

#1 RQS: 49.440
#20 RQS: 49.065
Difference: 0.375

#1 RQS: 49.415
#20 RQS: 49.045
Difference: 0.370

#1 RQS: 49.430
#20 RQS: 49.070
Difference 0.360

#1 RQS: 49.445
#20 RQS: 48.975
Difference: 0.450

#1 RQS: 49.445
#20 RQS: 49.025
Difference: 0.420

We can see that the difference between the #1 vaulting team and the #20 vaulting team in 2016 was smaller than it had been the last couple years, and while we’ll need more years with the new values to make a true determination, changing the vault values does not seem to have exacerbated any gap between teams that recruit elites and those that do not. The margin between these teams varies pretty widely from year to year, but 2016 is on the lower end of the variation. The same is true further down the rankings, with the weaker teams facing either a similar or smaller vault gap to the best teams, but not a larger one.

If you were looking for those teams that do show a couple more difficult vaults to be rewarded for that difficulty with a scoring boost over those showing six yfulls, however, you’re out of luck. They haven’t. For example LSU, our top vaulting team and one that has retained a similar level of difficulty to last year with three 1.5/DTYs, recorded a vault RQS this year .285 higher than that of Arkansas, a team with six fulls. In 2015, LSU recorded a vault RQS .260 higher than Arkansas, when the teams had the same disparity in difficulty but the start values were equal.

Most significantly, we can see from the above RQSs that the change in values has successfully reduced overall vault scoring from the boom years of 2012-2015, which was another likely outcome. No one has six 10.0 vaults this year, so every team should take a scoring hit compared to last year and probably should have taken a bigger scoring hit than actually occurred. If a team is putting up six yfulls, the vault total should theoretically be .250 lower than it was last year, all else being equal, so why is the #20 vaulting team only scoring .015 lower than last year and around a tenth lower than the previous two years? 

Still, while the decrease in scores probably should have been greater than it was given the lower start values, the change has curbed some of the recent hyperactive vault scoring and has returned those scores to levels similar to the pre-2012 era, when yurchenko fulls had a 10.0 SV but scoring across the country was a tad stricter and more realistic than it is now. For whatever reason. Here are the last 10 years of vault RQSs for the top 20 teams in graph form.

This scoring plummet in 2016 is a good thing, and an encouraging step toward saner scores, but a problem arises when we compare the average on vault to the average on the other events, which have undergone no such adjustment in start values or routine evaluation. On these events, the scores have continued to rise, with beam and floor reaching their ten-year highs.

If we take a look at this year’s numbers, the average RQS for the top 20 teams on vault is 49.199, compared to 49.280 on bars, 49.253 on beam, and 49.357 on floor. This is the first year since 2007 in which vault has not been the highest-scoring event in NCAA. The other events, particularly floor, are growing too different to the point where it clearly pays more to be good at floor than it does to be good at the other apparatuses. This has been happening for a couple seasons with both vault and floor, separating themselves too much from bars and beam, but now that vault has been adjusted downward, floor is the real outlier.

In themselves, the changes on vault are a positive. They’re beginning to encourage more variety, they’re bringing the overall vault scores down to a more reasonable level, and they’re providing some built-in separation for the judges to use in order to differentiate among various vaults of clearly different quality.

These changes must, however, continue through the other events to bring them into line with vault, which has become the lowest-scoring apparatus this season. It’s now much more difficult to get a 10.0 start on vault, so let’s make it just as difficult to get a 10.0 start on floor. While the need for more variety may not be as stark on floor as it had been on vault with all those yurchenko fulls, floor composition is just as repetitive and just as in need of help. Double pike/switch side+popa/1.5+layout/rudi is the new yurchenko full. So maybe we’ll see a change in 20 years.