The C Score (2.0)

Top 8: Bars

Posted on: November 18, 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.

14 Responses to "Top 8: Bars"

So Chellsie’s routine you posted had great form and a stuck dismount, but everytime I watch this routine, I get excited. Hindorf, pak, stalder shaposhnikova all connected. AHHMMAAAZZIIINNGG!!!!

Great work! I really appreciate your blog and how much heart you’re putting into this sport.

Sorry but I hate Nastia on Bars.. The whole arch your back, stick your neck out like a turtle, THEN swing down is so annoying and looks ugly.

Thanks monagym!

Honestly, Liukin is not my favorite either. I assume you’re talking about her Pak salto? I actually think it’s quite pretty, although I think everything she did on bars was prettier in the earlier part of the quad. Like I said, I *hate* her dismount. It is just awful. I didn’t expect to wind up ranking her that high, but her routine flowed well, and even if it didn’t have the most innovative individual skills, it had decent combinations and was probably one of the most perfect. Also bars this quad were boring.

I assume monagym is talking about the start of Nastia’s stalders too…well what do you call them in Pike? I completely agree with that as well. I HATE that look. Ugh, drives me nuts. Also, she bends her knees on her tap because she taps so early; if you look, Rebecca Bross has a very similar bottom on her giant swing.

With regards to the tapping, in this routine? Or generally speaking? I’d have to go look at her other routines, but I don’t see it so much in this one.

As for the “look,” yes, I see what you’re saying. lol

no, it’s after every handstand! Others do it as well but Nastia’s because of her long body line makes it even more ugly. look at both :31 and :50 in the above video… she does a toned down version after every handstand but those two are the worst. Plus the bent knees, and with her twisting, she crosses her legs (big no no!) and she can’t do a somersault to save her life (um, hello Cowboying anybody?)

Ah, now I see what you’re talking about. I guess it doesn’t bother me so much. But I absolutely agree about twisting and cowboying somersaults. That’s why I can’t stand her floor.

You can see the bent knees when they slow it down at about 1:51. I was a lot taller when I did gymnastics than Nastia is now and I didn’t need to bend my knees to tap…

I’ve noticed the bent knees on the tap. I have to say though, her handstand positions are still great. I’m not a fan of Nastia as an all-arounder, but I love her facility on bars. Less so now than before.

i disagree with all of you. i love nastia’s bars and LOVELOVELOVE her as an all-arounder. i hate shawn johnson’s look so much! if you think nastia’s bars are ugly(which they aren’t) look at shawn’s! she looks just stupid. she just makes bars look ugly she makes everything look ugly! nastia makes every thing looks beautiful!

Nastia has all kinds of form errors on bars. Have seen Shawn throw 10 class (old system) bars routines…but all of Nastia’s recent ones are Valerie code whore abortions. Shawn’s bail handstand is consistently more stunning than Nastia’s often messed up Pak.

I agree that He Kexin has the best routine for this quad, but I don’t think that that was the best routine she performed.

Personally I think this routine from Tianjin is better:

7.7 A-score, nearly flawless interior, and an almost stuck landing.

Definitely excellent. Tianjin was my second-favorite.

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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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