It is what we look forward to whilst simulatenously wishing away the time before the Olympics and dream of having a part in creating: it is nearly time for the new code of points. A change in the marking system with such regularity is one of the hardest things to explain to sports fans unfamiliar with gymnastics. And it IS strange. If a runner runs the fastest, he wins. If a high jumper jumps the highest, he wins. The list goes on. Yet a gymnast could win gold by a great margin on bars during one Olympics and not even make the finals at the next one (with the same routine and assuming no injuries!). The criteria on which we judge what is good change continuously.
I always say I am not an expert on the code: I am not. I think a lot of it is very difficult to understand and one has to have a very specific type of thought process to convert things like C+E = 0.3 into a tumbling line in their head. And I am so not one of those people.
A week or so ago, a draft of the new code of points was uploaded to the internet. Now this is exactly what is says on the tin: a draft, so any part of it could change before it is finalized. It does mean however that we get to see how the FIG is thinking, what specifically they are trying to move towards and away from and we can gauge, as fans, if we want to move in the same direction too. I may not understand much, but I understand some, so from my recent skimming of the proposed code (which can be downloaded here http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1109627...FEKAxrLu4xXP0=) here are my best bits/most notable bits so far.
A MORE ACCOUNTABLE VAULT FINAL
It was nearly four years ago but it is still talked about often, and with distain. Cheng Fei won the Olympic bronze medal on vault with a fall. Why did this happen? Because she was one of only two competitors in the final performing two 6.5 vaults. Although her Amanar was near perfect, she barely got her Cheng to her knees let alone feet.
Alicia Sacramone on the other hand did two lovely vaults with great execution, amplitude and form. Yet she took fourth place and no medal. To many, including me, this is not what gymnastics is all about, and although the execution of vault gold medallists has been improving greatly since Beijing there was still a sense that someone could rock up with a monster D score and take home a medal with car crash execution scores (Yamilet Pena anyone?).
But the FIG are clearly onto this and the draft code suggests a new rule for vault event finals...
(DVT1 + DVT2)/2 + 10.00 – (VT1 ex deductions + VT2 ex deductions) = Final score
The above is taken straight from the draft code. But what does it actually mean? It means that E scores are no longer averaged, but instead the focus is on the deductions themselves, so bad form can be doubly costly. Let us have a quick look at what would have happened in that most controversial of vault finals if this rule were in place.
As can be seen, this could really shake up the vault and I can’t wait to see how things pan out if it is used (PLEASE keep it FIG!).
See this handy video kindly made by AllTheTimeGymnastics for a video explanation
Other changes on vault include a 0.5 penalty for taking a run length greater than 25 metres. Also, two vaults with the same post flight will not count in event finals. This would mean, for example, that Elena Zamolodchikova’s 2 vaults from the Sydney event final would not be appropriate because they both consist of a backward entry laid out salto with 2 twists.
THE END OF PIROUETTE BASED UB GOLDS
In recent times it has been possible for a gymnast to make a splash on the uneven bars stage based pretty much on pirouettes alone. The bars final at the last Olympics was all about this. All the top three gymnasts were using highly rated forward giant one armed pirouettes in combination to boost their D scores.
Sadly for these types of gymnasts, this approach to the uneven bars will no longer work in the same way. The E+E combination 0.2 bonus on this apparatus still remains, but does not apply to pirouette skills.
Unlike the above issue with the vault, which I think is actually quite hard to dislike, one’s opinion on this rule change really is a matter of taste. Those who have a fondness for the Chinese approach to bars (Yang Yilin in 2008 being a good example) will find this change a hard one to swallow. Personally, though, I think it is nice to shake up an event from time to time. Also, as people know, I am a big fan of Tweddle’s bar work and this rule change will allow her to become a muse for high scoring bar routines in the next quad (as connection bonus for highly rated skills is now best achieved through release connections).
It will be nice to see Beth leave a good legacy on her signature apparatus, and I think this could give bars a little more ingenuity and excitement (rather than the tired old forward giant full, forward giant full, jaeger variations).
HARSHER TREATMENT FOR NON EXPRESSIVE TUMBLERS
Harder to explain than the above, but this code is full of possible artistry deductions on floor. Key examples of this include (pasted directly from the code):
· Lack of creative choreography (0.1 or 0.3)
· Lack of fluidity (Composition is a series of disconnected elements and movements) (0.1)
· More than one stationary stance on two feet in preparation for tumbling (0.1)
· Lack of expression (0.1)
· Unnecessary pause (of more than 1 sec.)before acro line (0.1)
I have to say I am LOVING all of this. Finally a move to seriously address the boring clunkfest that floor exercise has become. People are going to have to work very hard to satisfy all these criteria though, as I can’t actually think of anyone that doesn’t pause before a tumbling line. However itis times like this when we get a hint of what the next code whore things to do will be. It is likely that standing in a corner and doing some arm movements won’t qualify as a pause, so corner posing will probably go through the roof next year.
With all this deductable stuff you would be forgiven for thinking floor scores will remain low. However, the code has souped up floor’s scoring capability with a handful of new beefy connection value opportunities. Most exciting from my perspective include the return of direct A+D bonus (which, my friends, could mean the return of whips into double pikes - I dare to dream). C+E connections (where the E is a double salto) get 0.3 CV and A/B+F get 0.3 too.
What was the one thing the majority of fans wanted changed on floor? I don’t even need to say it but for fluidity of text, I shall. We all wanted to see the back of jumping from tumbles. JUST GO. And in a sense there is a move towards this. People can still jump out of a tumble should they want to, BUT the jump must be a B score minimum. This is obviously a bit trickier and with the new artistry deductions we might see a lot less of this happening.
Basically, a great floor worker with good execution, artistry and the ability to connect things well could get some mammoth scores here. This is good news for Romania: with bars scoring potential on the decline, and floor on the rise this could spell good things for their team programme.