June 19, 2013

2012 Skill Frequency – Balance Beam

A sequel!

Actually, that exclamation mark is a little too enthusiastic for these purposes.

A sequel. There, that feels more appropriate. It better encapsulates the split jump + sissone mood that I'm going for here.

Following the same procedure as for bars frequency, the following tables show the frequency with which skills were performed on balance beam at 2012 Visa Championships (% of total routines featuring the skill). This time, I did not limit to C skills because then how would we discuss turns and dance combinations? Instead, I included all skills except back handsprings, front handsprings, and round-offs.

When counting the elements, I credited the skill attempted rather than the skill that would actually have been awarded by a judge with eyes since this is about intended composition choices. Determining the skill attempted was a burden sometimes because . . . these switch rings, you guys. (Why would a coach include a never-getting-credit-in-this-universe switch ring and a switch split in the same routine? The switch ring is always going to be downgraded, so the switch split becomes a repeated skill. It happened a lot.)  

Skills are divided by type and sorted by the frequency of their appearances in senior routines. The junior routines and total frequency throughout all 45 routines (22 senior, 23 junior) are also included for the sake of comparison.

Much like the bail handstand+stalder shoot on bars, the free walkover and layout stepout dominate the acrobatic proceedings because of the gold mine that was the D+B+C combination for .2 CV, which was probably the silliest part of the 2006-2012 codes. When a code regulation is imposed, routines will always descend to the least challenging or least creative denominator in order to fulfill the requirement with minimum risk (which is why broad and vague is preferable to specific when it comes to the code – when a regulation is too specific, the solutions will always be identical). D+B+C and free walkover+bhs+loso was by such a large margin the easiest way to receive .2 CV that no other combination stood a chance.

That is why, as of now, I am happy with the series bonus rule on beam because it creates more parity across combinations. No combination is valued so high with respect to its difficulty that it shuts out all other combinations the way D+B+C used to. The series bonus is a broader way of awarding CV and allows for more composition solutions. Let's just hope this one doesn't descend to some heretofore unimagined least creative denominator as well.

June 16, 2013

2012 Skill Frequency – Uneven Bars

The homogenization of routines. It happens throughout gymnastics at all levels, but one of the most compelling criticisms of the current elite code is that it has accelerated and broadened this process, leading to routine after routine featuring the same few skills.

The changes to the current code should, in theory at least, be made with an eye toward keeping routines new and exciting and discouraging that which has become flat cliché. So, what has become the flattest and clichédediest? Let's take a look. 

The following chart shows the frequency with which each uneven bars skill appeared in American routines during the 2012 Visa Championships. It includes only skills of C difficulty or more (to dispense with the likes of Giant - 100%) with the exception of the toe shoot to high bar because I am specifically interested in the frequency of the low-to-high transitions that we have (all negative three of them).

Skills are listed according to the percent of routines in which they appeared in the competition and are sorted by the frequency of their appearances in senior routines. The junior routines and total frequency throughout all 44 routines (21 senior, 23 junior) are also included for the sake of comparison.

The chart includes all skills performed more than once in either the junior or senior division. The following skills appeared in one routine in either or both sessions:

Stalder circle forward
Toe-on circle forward 1/2
Giant 1.5
Clear hip full
Ono 1/2
Weiler kip
Tkatchev 1/2
Toe-on Tkatchev
Clear hip Shaposhnikova
Piked stalder shoot to high bar

June 9, 2013

The Importance of the First Worlds

Here's something: We've now limped through pleasantly experienced three full Olympic quads under the Martha camp system, and over those years, 17 gymnasts have made Olympic teams.

Of those 17 gymnasts, just four competed in the first World Championships of the quad during which they eventually made the Olympics – Mohini Bhardwaj in 2001 and Nastia Liukin, Alicia Sacramone, and Chellsie Memmel in 2005. That's less than a quarter of the total team members.
No other eventual Olympians even competed at the senior level in the first year of the quad.

2012: None of the Olympic team members were age eligible in 2009.
2008: Sacramone, Liukin, and Memmel made the 2005 World team, while Johnson, Peszek, and Sloan were not old enough.
2004: Kupets, Patterson, Humphrey, and McCool were not old enough for the 2001 team, Bhardwaj made it, and Hatch was not US eligible at that point.

Conclusion: If you're competing at senior nationals this year and want to go to the Olympics in 2016, you kind of need to make the World team. No eligible US gymnast has missed out on the first World team of the quad and gone on to make the Olympic team.

June 2, 2013

On Home Scoring, the Elite Kind

The official motto of the American gymternet is Illos numeros inter gentes numquam accipiet. (She'll never receive those scores internationally.)

Over the years, we've all seen any number of hilarious scores showered upon US gymnasts at domestic competitions, and this storied history of ridiculing hyper-American judging has cultivated the widespread assumption that less biased international judges would never succumb to such silliness.

At times in the past, this has been the case, but in the last few years, the international judges have seemed willing to evaluate the execution of routines with that we would normally consider an American lens. Has the "she will never receive those scores internationally" argument become a knee-jerk response to perceived overscoring without a strong correlation to fact? Will she probably receive those scores internationally as well?

Those are my questions, at least. So, as a way of reintroducing myself to the elite world, which at this point has been [scene missing] ever since the Olympics, I compared the execution scores given to the US team members in 2011 and 2012 at Classic/Championships/Trials with the scores they would later receive at Worlds/Olympics. (I went back no further than 2011 because I don't have the D/E breakdown for 2010 TF and AA and 2009 AA.) I threw out routines with falls and major mistakes, since they would skew the execution score in a misleading direction. This is about the evaluation of essentially equivalent routines, not comparing falls to hits. Certainly, there are differences in the actual quality of all routines (a wobble or two here, no wobbles there), but those issues should even out between the two sets of competitions, providing an overall reliable sense of how the judges are evaluating American performances.