The C Score (2.0)

Archive for December 9th, 2008

This will be brief brief brief because I have to study biochemistry (which is clearly going very well).

On December 1st, the Times published an article citing evidence that gymnasts suffer “a broad constellation of injuries” to joints causing inflamed cartilage and stress fractures, things that could lead even to necrosis.

Anyway, some doctors wrote in from the National Osteoporosis Society to report on their own study, which shows that girls 8-17 engaged in “high intensity gymnastic training” had bone densities 13-28 percent higher than matched controls. They also didn’t find evidence of stunted growth or that gymnasts were not receiving adequate nutrition.

Overtraining is a real risk in gymnastics because of the early start age. You don’t see many football players being home-schooled. But honestly, I haven’t read the American study, and media reports about studies tend to be misleading at best. In either case, I think it’s telling that they then go on to say that “Previous studies have suggested that the rate of injury in gymnastics is almost as severe as that in contact sports.” Almost as severe? Sounds to me like gymnastics is still better!

On the other hand, one should also be skeptical of the other study (and of any study that one hasn’t read — someone recently found that some massive percentage of medical studies were misreported in the media). Naturally, the “stunted growth” question is a sticking point in the gymnastics community — it’s the classic chicken-or-egg question: which came first, gymnastics, or short height? But there is conclusive evidence that high-level sports delay puberty, and I think that suggesting that elite-level gymnastics has no effect on development is laughable.

And finally a place to sneak in this tidbit: while Chellsie Memmel has been on her fruit-and-chicken diet, what has Beth Tweddle been eating? According to this article, lunch might be lasagna, spaghetti bolognese or sweet-and-sour chicken. Dinner could be soup-and-sandwich or a “chicken and bacon salad.” It’s never been clear to me that the level of intensity and craziness of American gymnastics has reached across the pond, and on that note, who were the subjects of the NOS study? It’s not clear that British gymnasts have been subjected to the same harsh diets we see in some American gyms, and certainly former Soviet gyms, so it’s not clear to me how translatable the findings might be. Certainly it’s interesting that the positive findings come out of Britain while the negative ones come out of the the United States.

As has been recently noted on a few message boards, the USAG Junior Olympic Committee recently revised the 2009-2013 Junior Olympic Code of Points (see preview of changes here) to reflect the fact that the FIG has recently changed the dance passage requirement on floor in the new CoP from 3 back to 2.

Which leads us to the obvious question: why is the FIG still making changes to the 2009 CoP when 2009 is exactly 22 days away?

Now, given the posting by USAG, it seems that the FIG has in fact made this change, although that is not reflected in the most recent edition of the 2009 CoP available for download from the FIG Web site. (That link may or may not work. It’s temperamental.)

But the real question floating around message boards is whether the FIG has decided to scrap the new eight-element requirement on bars, beam and floor to return to the 10-element requirement of the previous quad. A lot of gymnastics fans heralded this as an attempt by the FIG to reemphasize good choreography and dance. But rumor has it that because MAG didn’t want to change from 10 to 8, the FIG may have decided to keep WAG at 10 for consistency’s sake.

The first passage at hand concerns an A-panel (now D-panel) requirement on floor exercise. In the previous CoP, a dance passage was required that featured “at least two different elements one of them with 180° cross split position. The leaps or hops had to be connected directly or indirectly, without jumps or turns because these are considered stationary. The other requirement was that the first leap or hop had to land on one foot.

In the most recent CoP, the dance passage requirement is worded the same but requires “a dance passage of at least 3 different elements …” (emphasis mine). Now, both the first and second elements must land on one foot. The only other difference is that there is now .5 points specifically awarded for this element as part of the “Composition Requirements” (formerly “Element Group Requirements.”

However, if the J.O. CoP is to be trusted (note that the wording is very similar to the FIG wording), the FIG has reverted to “A dance passage of at least two (2) different leaps or hops.”

Both this and the 8 element requirement were theoretically attempts to incentivize an emphasis on good dance. Is the FIG reneging on its word?

The truth is, I care much less about that than I do about the fact that there is no official CoP despite the fact that January is just around the corner! I know running a World Cup Final is hard and all, or whatever, but come on. I assume coaches and federations have better updates than the rest of us, and it goes without saying that brevet judges definitely do, but still. But inquiring minds want to know!

Sanne Wevers has confirmed her participation in the World Cup Finals, according to her club (Bosan TON) Web site.


Wevers, ranked 22nd, moved up to the last qualifying slot after Alina Kozich pulled out of floor and beam finals with a rolled ankle. Kozich, by the way, is just out of competition for maybe a week, although unfortunately that week coincides with the WCF!

This leaves only a few spots remaining. Kim Bui is still unconfirmed for vault, but she was at the Glasgow Grand Prix on that event, so I’m assuming she’s competition-ready. Daniele Hypolito and Koko Tsurumi are unconfirmed on bars and floor, respecitvely, but both are participating on other events. Moreover, this Globoesporte article seems to suggest that Hypolito will be participating on bars.

This leaves only one spot on floor. It looks like it will go to Elsa Garcia, ranked 26th, if Cassy Véricel ever gets around to declining. Before it gets to Garcia, it has to be offered to Pang Panpan and Jade Barbosa. Physically speaking, it would be nearly impossible for Pang to even make it to Madrid by this weekend, and it’s not clear what her physical condition is anyway. And, as we know, Barbosa is out with injury. Moreover, Garcia is already qualified on vault and has accepted, so she’ll be in Madrid anyway.

As first reported by Andrea at Live.Breath.Love.Gymnastics, Shawn Johnson has posted to her official blog that she is back in the gym training.

Shawn Johnson is back in the gym

Shawn Johnson is back in the gym

In addition to getting back into shape with a personal trainer, Johnson reports that she will be on a new Cheerios box. Apparently she is the first athlete to be featured by Cheerios. Recall that Nastia Liukin was offered the Wheaties box over Johnson when Liukin won the all-around. I actually think it’s been really good for gymnastics that both girls have been embraced by the media; it’s double the coverage for this sport.

I am really happy to hear that Johnson is back in the gym. I think she still has a lot of gymnastics in her, particularly because of the low injury rate she’s had. Moreover, as I’ve previously said, I really appreciate that she keeps a good balance with school and gymnastics. I think that’s helped her in the past and, more importantly, I think it will help her for this next stage.

Weird SJ merchandise

Weird SJ merchandise

While I’m on the topic of her Web site, *what* is up with her store? I can imagine a lot of kids (or their parents) would pony up for Shawn Johnson t-shirts, sweatshirts, whatever, but her store only sells this weird jewelry based on the Beijing Olympic mascots. And it’s expensive! Who is buying the diamond pendants for $750? The cheapest thing is thirty dollars; I suppose that’s not so bad. On the other hand, it’s not really SJ-related, but Olympics-related. Sometimes you gotta wonder. If I were a parent, I’d buy my kid this “Team Johnson” shirt from instead.

"Peace, Love, Shawn Johnson"

Peace, Love, Shawn Johnson

And while we’re on the subject of questionable merchandise, USA Gymnastics announced that GK will be releasing a whole line of SJ leotards featuring her signature and the dreaded peace sign. We know she loves it, but come on. I suppose I’m not the target audience though. The collection, and I am not kidding, is called “Peace, Love, Shawn Johnson.”

Endorsement deals are fine. And honestly, I like the colors of the sample leotard posted here. I suppose it isn’t too egregious when you compare it to a lot of other gymnastics fashion.

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.


December 2008