Gym nerds, we have bad news. The stork stand is here to stay.
Additional WAG floor changes:
-Gymnasts cannot begin a routine with an immediate tumbling pass
-Gymnasts cannot perform back-to-back tumbling passes along the same diagonal
Alright, let’s discuss this. I tried waiting a few hours to calm down and be nice about it, but I’ve only gotten madder so here we go.
First off: In the section on artistry in this Code of Points, it very clearly states that artistry is about quality of performance and lies not in what a gymnast does, but in how she does it. Yet every subsequent edit to the Code continues to police more and more what a gymnast can do in her routine.
Personally, I’m not against the principle of the corner rule- an attempt to keep the exercise dynamic and flowing and to encourage gymnasts not to attempt tumbles that they cannot handle without an exorbitant amount of preparation. But I don’t think it’s worded nearly as well as it could be. While the redraft shown here is a bit of an improvement, I still think it would be best as “Gymnast does not begin tumbling pass immediately (< 1 sec) after arriving in corner” or “Gymnast remains stationary in corner in any body position for more than one second” - the second of which would both eliminate the flamingo stands and allow back in choreography such as that before the last pass in Wieber’s Wild Dances routine.
Alright, let’s talk about the new bullshit here.
First off, the opening dance rule. Admittedly, there is something to be said for a little bit of dance before the gymnast launches into her first tumbling run, but in the right situation, a routine begun with a pass blasted sky high can have a LOT of impact. Again, it’s not about what the gymnast does, it’s about HOW she does it- and there are certainly many “hows” that can result in an artistic, interesting routine with a lot of impact. Meanwhile, enacting this rule is going to lead to a shit ton of “bullshit arm waving” in the opening few seconds of a routine, rather than any actual meaningful choreography - unless the gymnast would have done meaningful choreo there anyways.
Second, the acro line rule. It may just be the extremely poor translation and abstruse wording that the code always suffers from, but what it seems they are saying here is that you cannot perform two acro lines in a row on the same diagonal, regardless of what does or does not come between them. Let us for the purpose of argument assume that the “lost artistry” that gymnastics is trying to regain is best defined by the floor routines of Soviet gymnasts in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Would you like a list of 80s and 90s Soviet routines that have back-to-back tumbling runs on the same diagonal that the gymnastics community reveres as some of the greatest artistic work the sport has ever seen?
- Olga Mostepanova 85
- Oksana Omelianchik 85
- Oksana Omelianchik 87
- Elena Shushunova 88
- Tatiana Groshkova 90
- Oksana Chusovitina 90
and many others whom I did not have the time to compile as I’m actually supposed to be studying for exams right now. Even if we argue that gymnastics has evolved since then and we should only examine routines from the last few years, here are some routines that gymnastics fans have creamed their pants over that have two or more runs on the same diagonal with little or no interlude:
- Laurie Hernandez 2013
- Louise McColgan 2013 (the Waltzing Matilda routine everyone loves)
- Sandra Izbasa 2012
- Ksenia Afanasyeva 2012
- Jordyn Wieber 2011-12
- Yulia Belokobylskaya 2011
For the third time, in your own words, FIG: it is not what a gymnast does that makes her routine great. It is the manner in which she does it. The double line either at the beginning or in the middle of a routine allows a gymnast to structure her routine more like an old fashioned three pass routine, leaving her two long chunks of time to dance in rather than three short ones that have her back in the corner prepping before she’s really done anything. That’s right- the very routine structure you are trying to outlaw for being unartistic may actually encourage artistry and storytelling in the routine for a number of gymnasts.
Artistic composition and structure of the routine- or “distribution of elements”, as you have chosen to call it- is very much a stylistic choice that should be left to the gymnast, her coaches and her choreographers as they pursue the best mode of expression for the individual, not policed by the FIG to the point where the artists cannot make their own artistic decisions. These new deductions are almost certain to create many more problems than they solve. Perhaps it would be better to return to the strategy that produced so many of the routines we hail as examples of artistry today- REWARDING those gymnasts who go above and beyond and set an example, rather than penalizing those who are simply structuring their routine in the manner best suited to their talent and abilities.