The C Score (2.0)

Archive for November 18th, 2008

I did not think that it would take me this long to come up with my list of top 8 bar routines of the quad. In fact, I thought it would be significantly easier than floor. But, as it happens, bars were pretty boring to watch this quad. (Though perhaps not as boring as vault.) In sifting through all of these routines, there was just simply no denying the beauty of the Chinese bar workers. They swing bars like no other.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that bar workers can be divided into two types: those who work smoothly and calmly (Nastia Liukin, most Chinese gymnasts); and those who work bars aggressively (I think the epitome of this is Chellsie Memmel or Hong Su Jong, but also Ksenia Semenova, Shawn Johnson, etc.). As it happens, I like both.

First, two eliminating criteria:

  • No feet touching the bar without the hands also on the bar
  • No dead hangs

The first affects gymnasts like Dariya Zgoba. The second affects mainly the smaller Chinese gymnasts (who wound up on the list anyway!).

Here were my criteria, in approximate order of importance:

  • A clear style: either aggressive or smooth
  • Sensation of flying and/or high release skills
  • Innovation or at least creativity in composition
  • Good handstand positions
  • Stuck or nearly stuck landing

Three other caveats:

  • Gymnasts can only appear once on the list
  • The quad (obviously) begins January 2005 and ends December 2008
  • I reserve the right to modify the list and/or add a ninth routine between now and December!

And here we go:

8. Chellsie Memmel, 2005 Pan American Games, Rio de Janeiro (BRA):

This is the same routine that won Memmel the all-around in Melbourne, but done better. For me (and statistically), 2005 was Memmel’s best year, and it shows on bars. I really like the composition of this routine. Which starts with a clear hip circle to Tkatchev. She does a really great Shapashikova, and in fact all of her transitions are really dynamic. And then of course there is the jam to handstand to double front, her signature dismount. And for once, she sticks the landing. Score: 9.643. Highest score in all-around, first all-around and in event finals.

7. Jiang Yuyuan, 2008 Olympics all-around, Beijing (CHN):

Tim Daggett’s commentary make generally be a combination of the trite, uninteresting and hyperactive use of the word “Wow!”, but I agree with him that Jiang’s routine makes her look like she’s flying — and having a good time doing so. She floats more than pretty much anyone. Like so many of the Chinese, she is an amazing pirouetter, doing more one-arm turns than I can count. Unlike some other pirouettes, moreover, Jiang’s are tightly controlled. And she has two good release skills: a fairly dynamic Tkatchev and a really great Jaeger (that went nearly out of the arena during the 2008 Olympics team finals). And of course the standard double layout dismount. A-score: 7.0. B-score: 15.975.

6. Anastasia Koval, 2008 European Championships qualification, Clermont-Ferrand (FRA):

Koval knows how to hit a handstand. Her work really demonstrates precision, and a rhythm that clearly displays her perfect balance on this event. She does an enormous toe-on Tkatchev, and later a second Tkatchev that is slightly more flat, but still quite well done. She does great Stalder work, has good transitions, and good, controlled (if not special) pirouettes. Dismount is a double front tuck. A-score: 6.9. Score: 15.575. Qualified in third to event finals, placed fifth.

5. Beth Tweddle, 2008 European Championships team final, Clermont-Ferrand (FRA):

Tweddle is not my absolute favorite bar worker, but you’ve got to hand it to her for the difficulty of the individual skills she’s performing. She’s been doing that Markelov to immediate Gienger forever. It’s quite impressive. You’ve also got in this routine her newer Tkatchev with one half to immediate transition to low bar, which just looks amazing when she hits it. Full-in dismount. A-score: 7.0. B-score: 16.075. Second-highest score in team final, later took fourth in event finals.

4. Yang Yilin, 2007 World Championships all-around, Stuttgart (GER):

Yang’s difficulty may have gone up before Beijing, but she was at her cleanest at Worlds the year before. The pirouettes here are stunning and so light. She also does a decent Tkatchev, a huge straddled Jaeger, and a just gorgeous laid-out Jaeger. And she sticks the landing. A-score: 7.0. Score: 15.575. Eight-highest bar score, sixth all-around.

3. Ksenia Semenova, 2008 European Championships team final, Clermont-Ferrand (FRA):

Everyone was stunned when Semenova beat Liukin during the 2007 Worlds on this event, but honestly I love her style and thought she deserved it. And her 2008 routine was even better. We’re talking a Tkatchev to full pirouette, a straddled Jaeger, and a Deltchev. Not to mention the great aggressiveness through the entire routine. If it hadn’t been for the dismount — a piked double Arabian, which I think always looks kind of weird — and Liukin’s grace, Semenova would probably be second. A-score: 7.2. Score: 16.200. Highest score of team final, later took first in event finals.

2. Nastia Liukin, 2005 World Championships event final, Melbourne (AUS):

You had to be wondering where Liukin would fit in on this list. Obviously I love her bar work. But her routines from 2007 on are really marred for me by the new dismount, which I just can’t stand. Maybe it’s silly, but I couldn’t rank one of those routines the highest. So I chose a different stunning routine, from the 2005 Worlds. At the time, Liukin was still competing a double layout, and it was gorgeous, consistent with the rest of her routine. Amazing lines, beautiful handstands, a one-arm pirouette into endo, a high Gienger, and one of the most gorgeous Pak saltos I’ve ever seen her do. And she sticks the landing. This routine is quite nearly perfect, actually. Score: 9.662. First.

1. He Kexin, 2008 Doha World Cup event final, Doha (QUA):

She could be 12, 16 or 60, either way this routine by He was my favorite routine of the quad. Obviously her routines at the Olympics were stunning, but she is actually more dynamic here, particularly on her low-to-high transition, which was often a problem in Beijing (even in event finals). What is there to say? The Li Ya combination is potentially better than Li Ya herself ever did it. Beautiful laid-out Jaeger (that is actually laid-out and not piked-ish) and Pak salto. The pirouettes are gorgeous. I don’t think there’s a handstand she didn’t hit. And the Tsukahara dismount with just a small step. A-score: 7.5. B-score: 16.550. First.

I have a great fondness for Shawn Johnson, and I’ve got to say, she’s grown up quite a bit since her first interviews. This is an interview she did with WHO radio in Iowa on November 14th.

Of course, most importantly, with regard to training for 2012:

As of right now, I would love to be there. There’s a lot of training involved, especially since the Tour we’ve taken about two months kind of off, it’s kind of relaxing and having fun. But I don’t know, there’s something in me that still wants to compete, and if I can be there in 2012 I will be.

With respect to 2009, she said that if she is ready for it, she’ll compete. But she also mentioned “other opportunities that arise.” Here’s hoping to see her by Nationals and Worlds.

With regards to school (always a big question for me), she says she will go from January through the summer to catch up. And she’ll be going back to her high school. I love to hear her saying that she loves school and can’t wait to go back.

I take a particular interest in French gymnastics because I grew up in Paris. This weekend, a group of French juniors took on a dominant set of Italian juniors in Ponzano Veneto, Italy. Results at the bottom, as usual.

Both teams sent their second-tier juniors to this meet, although the Italians had a clear edge on experience and level — they were not represented by the Paola Galantes, of course, but known juniors Carlotta Ferlito, Andrea Foti, Andrea La Spada, Serena Licchetta, Eleonora Rando. The last three were members of the Italian team at the 2008 Junior European Championships.

By contrast, France sent some greener juniors — with the exception of Marine Brevet, who was a member of the French Junior European team, none have any international experience to speak of. France has a couple of interesting very young juniors, but the ones they selected for this meet are fairly middle-of-the-pack. This was good experience for both Ambre Casanova and Emilie Dupuis, who competed in their first international meet. However, Brevet, Casanova, Justine Crosato and Sarah Gusmaroli, all at this meet, will be at the Massilia Cup later this month.

The top four Italians all scored in the 55-and-above range, with Erica Fasana scoring 56.700. The highest B-scores were to be found on vault, where Fasana, Chiara Gandolfi, La Spada and Brevet received B-scores of at least 9.000, the only B-scores in the 9’s of the entire meet. Not that this is uncommon among juniors, but the Italian and French teams are among those that have the most problems with this — and low A-score vaults, also witnessed at this meet.

On the other hand, Brevet qualified to EF in beam at the Junior Europeans this year, and three of the top four Italians beat her beam score at this event: point being, things are looking good for the Italians.

Anyway, the Italians certainly dominated at this meet, taking the top 9 spots. The results:


1. Erica Fasana (56.700)
2. Serena Licchetta (56.300)
3. Andrea Foti (55.450)
4. Carlotta Ferlito (55.100)
5. Valentina Scapin/Chiara Gandolfini (54.200)
7. Andrea La Spada (54.050)
8. Eleonora Rando (53.900)
9. Francesca De Agostini (52.650)
10. Justine Crosato (52.250)

My series on rising juniors discusses the Italians here and the French here.

The full results of the Italy-France meet can be found here. It includes the team results by club.

About The C Score

First there was A score and B score, now D score and E score. Where is the C score? Right here. In the form of my random thoughts about women's artistic gymnastics.


November 2008
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