The C Score (2.0)

Archive for the ‘2005-2008 Quad’ Category

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.

In an effort to sum up the quad for myself before the next one really gears up, I’m going to do some Top 8 lists about this quad. Below, a list of my favorite floor routines from this quad.

Perhaps on floor more than on any other apparatus, gymnastics fans have wildly different opinions about what constitutes a “good” floor routine. So in an effort at transparency, here are my criteria, presented in more or less the order of importance:

  • Big, powerful tumbling
  • Precision and good form on tumbling and dance elements
  • Personality
  • Choreography that complements appropriate and engaging music
  • Control on tumbling and dance elements
  • Lightness, neither tumbling nor choreography appear labored
  • Constant movement/no unnecessarily lengthy pauses
  • And occasionally, some dramatic back story

Two 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 betwee now and December!

II’ll admit immediately that my evaluation of FX routines is subjective. Judging the start value of the routine is a far less interesting debate, obviously. And I’m not using the CoP to make these judgments. I don’t have a huge preference for artistry over other things, and I don’t think that a routine needs to be balletic to be aesthetically pleasing. Some of my favorite routines have music that is not conducive to classical ballet movement, and that’s fine by me. This does not mean that I discount dance, and especially does not mean that I discount dance elements, specifically turns and jumps/leaps/hops. There are some extremely balletic floor routines that I enjoy, but I don’t necessarily prefer them, particularly if the tumbling is mediocre.

So here they are:

9. Ekaterina Kramarenko, 2007 World Championships team final (Stuttgart, GER):

Especially given the vault disaster (in which Kramarenko touched the horse on a false start in her run-up and scored a 0.0000 for the Russian team), I was delighted that Kramarenko competed a great floor routine in these team finals.  In addition to being extremely precise on her tumbling passes here, Kramarenko also has good dance, and — this clinched it — <em>smiles</em>.  I also like her music choice, also Monette Russo’s floor music in 2005.  Nice Tsukahara as the opening pass.  Not the highest difficulty.  A-score: 5.7.  Score: 14.375.

7. Steliana Nistor, 2007 World Championship all-around final (Stuttgart, GER):

Plenty of people will disagree with me on this one, but I generally enjoy Nistor’s floor, and I really loved this routine.  First, the music — “Stairway to Heaven”?!  That is awesome.  Then, there’s the awesome first two passes: her double layout is one of my favorites, and she sticks it cold; then she does a great Tsukahara.  Overall, clean routine.  This routine was also performed last in the AA competition when Nistor needed a 16.225 to beat Shawn Johnson.  She obviously didn’t get that, but she did score high enough to nab the silver over Jade Barbosa.  A-score: 6.0.  Score: 14.975.

5.  Anna Pavlova, 2008 Europeans event final (Clermont-Ferrand, FRA):

As they say, Pavlova is the closest on the Russian team to doing traditional Russian floor, a combination of great dance and tumbling.  Of any competitor, I think she is the one who best combines elegance and precision in both tumbling and dance.  Her main problem is that her difficulty is a little low; otherwise, she would be pretty hard to beat.  In this routine, she nails her mount, a double layout, and comes back with a beautiful whip-to-triple twist.  A-score: 5.9.  Score: 14.875.  Fifth.

5. Cheng Fei, 2006 World Championships event finals (Aarhus, DEN):

Cheng is everything you want on floor: strong tumbling, great dance.  I don’t absolutely love her choreography, but I do enjoy it, and she has everything else.  In this immensely clean routine, she opens with a double double and ends with a piked Tsukahara.  In between, she does a great whip-to-triple twist that is far better than most under-rotated triples we’ve been seeing.  A-score: 6.4  Score: 15.875.  First place.

4. Jiang Yuyuan, 2008 Olympics team final (Beijing, CHN):

One of the most memorable moments of the team final was the absolutely delightful performance by Jiang on floor, when the outcome had pretty much already been decided and the Chinese girls used their floor routines as a sort of victory celebration.  Awesome triple-twist mount followed by a Tsukahara.  Cute choreography with clear Chinese influence (without being too cutesy) and great personality shining through.  And despite the cute, still very elegant.  Seriously, I haven’t seen a gymnast have this much fun on floor in a long time.  A-score: 6.3 (?).  Score: 15.200.

3. Jade Barbosa, 2008 World Cup (Cottbus, GER):

This routine was just the most precise thing ever, which is often (though not always) true of Barbosa’s floor.  I actually think the music suits Barbosa and her tumbling very well.  Precise, clean landings on every pass, including the double-layout mount and piked Tsukahara.  Even considering the amount of double pikes we’ve seen this quad, I think she lands them better than almost anyone.  Almost no form breaks.  And I think the whole choreography, music, tumbling combination has a quite intensity that suits her perfectly.  A-score: 6.0.  Score: 14.625.  Second.

2. Shawn Johnson, 2007 Worlds all-around (Stuttgart, GER):

Plenty of people will disagree on this one as well, but I absolutely loved Johnson’s 2007 routine.   I thought the music and choreography suited her personality and her gymnastics style perfectly.  (I’m among those who don’t understand the 2008 routine.)  Honestly, I think I enjoyed this routine almost every time it was performed, but during the all-around final at Worlds, she was really relaxed and enjoying herself.  She was also more precise on this routine than she was during event finals.  What can I say?  Double double, Tsukahara, good twisting (not always true, sometimes she gets a little knee bendy).  Love it.  A-score: 6.2.  Score: 15.425.  First in all-around, highest FX score.  Also took first in floor EF.

1. Sandra Izbasa, 2008 Olympics event final (Beijing, CHN)

Of course, she’s the Olympic champion on floor, so it’s not shocking that I absolutely adore this floor routine by Izbasa. The music choice is excellent, and I love the choreography. And check out the difficulty: piked Tsukahara, Tsukahara, two-and-a-half twist to full twist, one-and-a-half to one-and-a-half twist, triple twist. Unbelievable. Gorgeous dance, great style, and she looks really into it every time. I had to watch all of her routines a million times to finally settle on her gold-medal winning routine at the Olympics. She stuck her piked Tsukahara and all of her twists cold, it’s unbelievable. A-score: 6.5. Score: 15.650. First.

Here is her (also gold medal-winning) floor in the 2008 European Championships event finals. (I had a hard time deciding between these two anyway!) Score: 15.775.

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.


August 2020