perfection is possible

blatherings about gymnastics

The Beamers

Posted by Rawles on January 11, 2009

So, I’ve been mulling over posting for a while now. I hadn’t forgotten this blog or anything, but since it’s the off-season there’s not that much for me to talk about at any given time besides Nastia’s latest photo shoot (super fierce for Max Azria!) or Shawn’s latest charity event (oh bb that dress…NO) or somesuch, which other people do a good job of covering.

As a clarification, particularly since I just got a pretty hilarious comment on my previous post, I have no pretensions of being a gym news blog or offering you up-to-date “coverage” of anything in particular. Places like Triple Full have that well covered. Much like when this was just a tag on my personal LiveJournal, I post whatever I feel like posting about at any given moment. And though I still laugh at aforementioned commenter’s assertion that covering a single Nastia article makes this The Nastia Fanatic Blog…if that was what I wanted it to be, then it would and without shame and you would have my cordial invitation to suck it! <3

At any rate, what I have actually been mulling over posting about for all this time is the (weeks-ago) World Cup Final. Most specifically the beam final, but I’ll get to that.

First I want to note my ambivalence about the discontinuation of the final. I think that in theory it’s a great thing and probably was in the past, but in practice…yeah, not so much. Which I feel was most exemplified by the fact that to get a full roster for various apparatus they had to dip down into the teens and twenties in the rankings. I watched the Universal Sports coverage of the event in full (which I much appreciated) and, honestly, found it very lackluster.

Lots of falls on floor, the disappointing withdrawal of Yang Yilin from bars, and what seemed at the time an abundance of bad Yurchenko 1 1/2s (so many tucked final 1/2s wtf) in the vault final did not give me much to cheer about. Sure, I’m happy for Cheng Fei for a bit of redemption for her ridiculously heartbreaking Olympics (and also for Ariella Kaeslin and Aagje LastnameIcan’tspellorpronounce) along with feeling bad for poor, tired Sandra Izbasa and a disappointing third on floor.

What I did find most of my interest invested in was the beam competition and some genuine, serious surprised joy was evoked by Lauren Mitchell’s win. In my prior LiveJournal posts it’s been mentioned fairly often, though not previously here, but I am very fond of Lauren Mitchell. Particularly, every time she competes, I am always, always wishing for her to do well on beam. So there was EXCITEMENT! EXALTATION! she won a pretty, freaking prestigious beam title! (And had a really cute conversation with Cheng Fei!) Glee.

Such glee, in fact, that I cut her beam from the coverage and sent it to a friend. And when I did that, and as I talked to my friend about it, in essence, I prefaced my commentary with “She’s wobbly, BUT…”

And that got me to thinking. I think that on paper, Lauren’s 2008 beam set is one of my absolute favourites of the quad. I like the combinations she tries and that she does something different on the turn (even though I do not actually like the Humphrey as a rule because it is ugly imo) and there is just a certain quality of movement she has on beam that I like.

But, beam being my long time favourite event, it kills me that I have to caveat showing someone a beam champion’s performance with PLZ IGNORE HER WOBBLING EVERYWHERE. And I’m not picking on Lauren, who, as mentioned, I love, but I feel this is just so endemic to this quad and this code and I don’t know if I feel like there’s a solution.

In theory (in theory!), I actually agree with the goal of the 2006-2008 Code of Points when perfectly applied. I agree that there should be more separation between gymnasts. I think they should lower the number of counting elements (as they are in this year’s code) and there are various quibbles with certain skill and connection values, but the basic premise, to me, is sound. I do believe that someone doing something significantly harder (but still well within their ability!) should be rewarded more than the 10.0 allowed. I do believe that someone executing their exercises significantly better should be rewarded in a way that the open-ended system allows for when applied correctly.

In my ideal world, the code would ensure that someone doing an amazing beam set would not lose it on a single adjustment to someone with a significantly less amazing beam set. But what we actually get seems to be a lot of people contending while wobbling after half their skills.

I remember witnessing one conversation about Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson’s incredible consistency on beam in 2008, where neither of them missed a single beam routine the entire year. Many felt it was worth note (I agree!) and, in response, some people (not specifically talking about Liukin and Johnson) essentially wondered when we started giving people cookies for staying on the beam. Which is pretty valid I have to say.

And I’m no longer sure where I’m going with this, so I’ll just ask a question!

What’s your stance? Do you prefer it being decided by absolute perfection or can you stand a minor adjustment or two in an otherwise great performance taking the prize? Or something else entirely?

If you're wondering, her medal fell off!

If you're wondering, her medal fell off!


One Response to “The Beamers”

  1. TCOisbanned? said

    I like the open ended scoring. I was against the loss of the 10.0 brand, thinking we could do open-ended with some mathematical rigamarole that still kept scores in the sub 10. But now, I think there is even a genious in the the blowing up of the old concept. It was so trite when judges would previously give lower scores at the beginning of rounds to “save room” or would score a perfect performance low because someone else did over difficulty. Or would give a 10.0 for clear form broken routines. So, I have to say Bruno…have a cookie with Shawn and Nastia!

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