Category Archives: Journey to the center of the code

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.

Shawn Johnson5.
Nastia Liukin5.
Chellsie Memmel5.
Sam Peszek5.
Bridget Sloan5.
Alicia Sacramone5.85.75.416.9
Routines from 2008 Olympic Trials

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

Shawn Johnson6.
Nastia Liukin5.
Chellsie Memmel5.
Sam Peszek
Bridget Sloan5.
Alicia Sacramone6.
D-Scores from 2008 Olympic Trials, best of 2 days
Continue reading Why Does the Code Hate Nastia So Much?

I Don’t Like Sheep – The Downgraded Elements

Taking a break from the fraught system of naming elements (for a second…), today let’s dive into elements that have been downgraded in value over the last couple quads. Was there a reason? Or did they just not come to Nellie’s birthday party?

(I’m not including vaults here because they’ve all been downgraded in value.)

Sheep jump

Value change: D to C
Date: 2017

The recent downgrade of the sheep jump on beam seems to be an instance of the Women’s Technical Committee exercising the “it v ugly” clause. Because it’s v ugly, and there doesn’t really seem to be any other justification (like a difficulty-based justification) for this downgrade.

Doing a proper sheep jump on beam, one that doesn’t incur loads of deductions for lack of closure and lack of head release and presence of a hip angle (it already had some of the most persnickety execution standards) is quite difficult and worthy of D value. But at the same time…blech. Unless you’re among a select few perfect Chinese beamers or Viktoria Komovas, the thing is probably awful looking.

It’s an obvious “I just don’t like this skill, and that’s all there is to it” scenario, emphasized by the downgrade not being backed up with much consistency across the rest of the code. The sheep jump on floor wasn’t bumped down accordingly. Other head-release, ring-shape elements on beam weren’t bumped down either. Just this one. So it doesn’t make that much sense logistically, but no one’s that outraged about it because…ugh sheep jumps.

So if you’ve noticed a dearth of sheep jumps this quadrennium, this is why. The sheep jump still can have some value as part of a dance combination or a mixed series, but it’s no more valuable than a switch leap as one of your counting dance elements or a back tuck as part of a mixed series,so…why ever?


Value change: G to E
Date: 2013

The downgrade of the Shushunova caused a bit of a stir because it’s quite rare to see a skill downgraded multiple tenths. This is also unusual for the WTC because it’s a case where the change was actually based on reality and not on some nonsensical whim of aesthetics. Like, this one…makes sense…? I barely know what to do with that information. Continue reading I Don’t Like Sheep – The Downgraded Elements

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) Continue reading No Skill For You

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

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