Tuesday, 9 June 2015

USA! USA!

The US are currently dominant, and have been for this quad and a good portion of the last. Before then, they were steadily rising and certainly had a healthy dose of victories, but couldn't have been called outright dominant. The code has been almost universally blamed for this. A key point to remember is that US dominance is bad, while USSR dominance for essentially decades was good.

No. Bias shouldn't come into this. Dominance is bad full stop. Aside from anything else, it is freaking boring when gold will be won by 7+ points in a globally attended team final. The top 4 is no more in the sense of close competition. There's 1, and then 3-all of whom seem to deteriorate year on year despite the addition of new seniors. And then the rest, countries like GB, Germany and Italy who can't quite get up there to the same level.

Because of the code and the demand for difficulty? The code suits the US..now. It was not made for them, and certainly FIG themselves are not relishing the fact that it IS suiting them so well. Bruno and Nellie have both condemned this reality. The US adapted to the code. The level of difficulty increased steadily year on year. We have now gotten to the point where H skills and amanars are nothing out of the ordinary and the gymnast with the most difficulty of this quad, Simone Biles, is throwing far more than her compatriots of previous quads, Jordyn Wieber and Shawn Johnson. The reason why they've been able to do this is because of the resources, coaching and training that they have. Many of the coaches that fled from the east on the collapse of communism are ensconced in US gyms. This exodus, predictably, has had a major knock-on effect on the quality of coaching in their former countries. Much bigger salaries and a much greater quality of life is a huge draw of course.

Rather than a centralised state-funded programme, the US operates privately funded gyms on a grand scale. In that way, the success of individual gymnasts and the National team is not impeded by economic downturns. Programmes like that of the Ukraine are sad former shadows of themselves- even in the last 10 years. Money is not an object for the US, although of course the gymnasts and gyms also benefit from the National team training camps, a big part in the success story since 2000. The girls enjoy the best of both worlds- their coaches learn from top elite training staff. It's the little things too-they are able to have flexible arrangements as regards schooling, with several being home schooled or supplementing with online classes. This is not an option in other countries with more rigid educational structures with the direct effect of less training time or the altogether worse-education being willfully ignored. A few years ago, most of the gymnasts sitting the BAC that year in Romania failed it.
In short, the US are so good right now because they have mastered the code...because they have the resources, coaching, back-up, facilities.... everything in place to do so. And none of the other powers do. That is not the fault of the US. It's a direct result of keeping to the old ways when they no longer suit. People are no longer enrolling their children in gymnastics in countries like China and Russia. The private, individual system works in tandem with a national team set-up, and clearly works brilliantly. Countries like GB have come on quite a bit with this (although clearly have a long way to go) whereas adherents of the old ways are stagnating and/or deteriorating.

The difference in resources is the problem. NOT the code. The code is inherently flawed and could do with a complete overhaul, but the US would adapt to that too. They'd be able to handle anything the FIG can throw at them, and that's the key to their success.

Last year, we witnessed Mykayla Skinner being bumped to 4th place in the worlds floor final, after performing her incredibly difficult routine to the best of her ability. The bump-er was the last performer, Aliya Mustafina, who had only 3 passes, but much less deductions. This is what the code can be made to do, reward execution at the expense of messy difficulty. There needs to be more scope to do this within the scoring. If they added back in RSV which I will keep advocating for, then gymnasts who perform difficulty effortlessly and cleanly such as Simone Biles would still be rewarded and the motivation to chuck a skill would be much diminished. It is false to assume that there is only one perpetrator of this - girls of many countries are performing skills they have no right to do. With the very odd exception, the US believes strongly in performing only that which you are capable of, and perceptions of the contrary are quite unfair.

Blaming the code itself is too easy. There are many reasons why WAG looks so ridiculously top-heavy, and the code is only a symptom, not the cause.

In other news, I have a shiny new laptop :D Use of the internet is no longer an insurmountable struggle, hurray!


61 comments:

  1. Congrat on the new laoptop!!... You deserve it :).

    You are right on in yr post! There are so many things that need to be in place to be a dominant force. Its not just only about the CODE and adapting to the code..... Even if a large lump sum of money is suddenly injected into china, Russia or Romania program right now, it wont solve a lot of the problems they are facing the way it is right now. A lot of these things certainly cant be solved overnight either.

    One thing the US enjoy as an advantage is the diversity (whether its gymnast body type, ethnicity, etc or coaches). I don't think any other countries has as much diversity. There is a great advantage in diversity....

    Anyway, is it just me feeling really excited for Maggie Nichols? The word is that she got an 15.8 amanar at the last camp and got a 60.7 leading the verification. Definitely one of the more often overlooked on the US team.... I guess you can't never underestimate anyone on the US national team.

    Simone took a break from doing AA (no ub) at camp but did get a 16(!) on beam. So I am wondering what upgrades did she pull off there..... She of course did her cheng and amanar....

    Which leads me back to that even though it looks like US is sending a B team to PanAm, I guess you can't underestimate anyone on that team at all....

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    1. i'd assume she put in her wolf+punch front and the grigoras.

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    2. So what would sv be now? 6.8? Thats pretty unbelievable that she gets a 16 on beam.... probably one of the highest domestic number if she can repeat it...

      Want to also add another thing I love about US team is that looks like they are upgrading and pushing ahead and not stopping even if the rest of the world is behind...

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    3. I read on Twitter that Simone's start value on beam is 6.8. She also received a 16 on floor.

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    4. the 16 on FX is "just usual Simone" :) but the 16 on beam is a huge improvement if she can repeat that... its quite interesting to see that her upgrade on beam and FX is only 0.3 but resulted in significantly higher than 0.3 increase in total for each event showing that execution also improved. so she is now fully capable of 63+ .... this was a question Katherine posted some time ago and the answer is absolutely!

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    5. Had Simone added the Grigoras and the wolf jump punch front, her d-score would have increased by 0.4. So that is a 6.9 already. Also, they might have added the 0.1 bonus for sticking a dismount ( assuming that she did it), I just do not understand how she gets 16.0, unless there is a surprise upgrade which we haven't seen yet. I know that the scores are slightly inflated like the Olympics inflation but its nice to see that someone is closing in to that 63 point borderline. I agree that 16 on FX for Simone is reasonable but in the American Cup, her FX score was slightly over scored. Simone rarely completes her 1/1 Switch leap, hence her d-score at 2014 worlds varied between 6.3 and 6.5. During the American Cup it was clear that she didn't complete the full twist yet she wasn't penalised on both d-score and e-score for that matter. As long as she performs that skill with precision at worlds and be consistent with her landings, she will definitely get that 16.0 on floor with her 6.8 d-score. My question is, will she have the Moors ready by Championships? Her Moors is already better than Skinner and Moors'. I think they should just rename it after her once she successfully competes it, as she is the first one whom I have seen do it a straight position.

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    6. At camp, they were verifying half routines. They did one half of the routine on each apparatus one day, and then the second half of the routine on each apparatus the next day. This increased the execution scores for everyone because the second half of the routine is easier to compete when you're fresh than when you're halfway through a set. That's why everyone's scores seem a little high. The only accurate ones are for vault.

      TrishaG

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    7. I see... didn't know that they didn't do a whole routine all at once...

      Well, at least it's nice to know that Maggie did finally try an amanar at camp. I did hear her training it sometimes ago.

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    8. Camp scores are always inflated, and yeah, half routines are easier. That said, Simone's scores are probably not off by a huge amount. I'm really hoping for the Grigoras to make an appearance, also her Mustafina bars dismount if she can. I can't wait for the Cheng! I know we've seen it, but it's always so much better in competition. I wonder if the Moors will? She's already ruled out the TTY. The sky's the limit.

      Maggie's amanar is intriguing! That score is huge. She has come on so much even in the last 18 months, it's great. On bars at Jesolo, I was sure she was Kyla for a while. Extremely valuable team member, good for any event. Together with Aly, I don't see a huge amount of room for Mykayla, two vaults or not.

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    9. Wait, since when has Simone ruled out the TTY. I thought it was only for this year and next year she may unveil it.

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    10. According to the sources I read on Twitter, Biles is still training TTY and has landed it several times on both soft pit and hard mat. As far as what skills will she compete on this year, these are the list of skills she verified at camp:

      VT: Amanar, Cheng
      UB: Khorkina(improved), Mustafina
      BB: Grigoras
      FX: Moors, DLO

      I don't know if we will see Khorkina or Moors this year, but I'm sure that the rest will make it this year if everything goes well.

      If all of these new skills are factored in, Biles SV are as follows: VT: 6.3, 6.4 - UB: 6.5 - BB: 6.8-6.9 - FX: 7.2

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    11. Yeah, I would be very surprised if simone completely ever rule out doing TTY. I think she said on her ask.fm that she did rule out a few things but TTY wasn't one. It's cool that she even tried a Yurchenko double pike which would be a very original WAG probably worth more thann TTY and according to her is harder than TTY. I do have a feeling that she would show TTY next year since that would be her final year before college and all important Olympic year. She also mentioned new music for fx so wondering if there is some more upgrades there. The moors is a real possibility also as she showed that in her recent youtube vid. All in all, it will be a long time if ever we will see someone with as high of SV total and still executed as well...

      As for Maggie, seeing the 15 on ub and bb even though they are on different days meaning that she definitely is showing improvement since jesolo. a 14.7 on fx is also an improvement in potential SV I believe since the jesolo fluke. Of course the amanar is going to help her a lot too....

      As for Skinner, she is facing an uphill battle. However, it's hard to deny her metal potential in vt. From the top 5 AA, there's surely 2 that will be able to qualify to bb and fx. I think they already can qualify at least 1 to ub. However, there's no one else with as much medal potential in anything else as skinner. After all she did win bronze in vt last yr. She might not be as useful in TF on fx anymore but her vt might still be useful there. Who else would you bring aside from her to win an EF medal? All this of course is contigent on her being able to bring a cheng at least as good as last yr and also an amanar. If she can't do both vt then her chance is really small this time...

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    12. Simone doesn't actually have a grigoras based on the video USAG released earlier this year. Because Simone does a half twist into a back salto, it's actually a free ariel from two feet, worth an E. While a grigoras is a front salto into a half twist worth an F. So while very similar, the code does make a distinction.

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    13. I could be wrong but you may be talking about the Barani for the F move, but I always the too, way too similar. :P

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    14. Ah yes sorry, I was referring to her upgrades for this year - she ruled out doing the TTY this year.

      I thought it was a barani when she first did it! Then everyone kept saying grigoras in the last few weeks and I got mightily confused and conceded, ha.

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  2. Thank you!! I've heard so many people blaming the US dominance on the code, but it's so much more than that!

    I think other countries are starting to realize their problems too and working their way towards the future. I know 2 years ago, the Romanian federation got Petrom as a sponsor and launched a huge campaign for scouting gymnasts all across the country for the 2024 Olympics. Sure that's a long way away, but I feel that over time, Romania's depth and money problems will be solved (or at least not still be as bad). I also know that Russia has started opening gyms in other parts of their country to have a larger supply of gymnasts. As for China, I don't know how they're solving their problems right now, but I just hope they stop favoring gymnasts with smaller body types. Overall, I'm glad that the other countries are stepping it up. We won't see results immediately, but they are thinking of the future. Hopefully they'll pose a bigger challenge.

    You're also right about the US's ability to adapt to the code. For some reason, China and Romania still favor girls with frail body types. Honestly, I'm surprised to see those girls perform a full in or a DTY because they don't look powerful at all.

    Unrelated question: what changes would you like to see to the code next quad (realistic changes, not a complete overhaul)? Personally, I think connection values should be increased on UB, BB, and FX. The FIG has drastically cut the number of possible connections with this new code, and BB and UB routines all look the same to me. And now that connection passes are no longer required on FX, most gymnasts have stopped trying to do them. What do you think?

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    1. China favors connection bonus on fx since they have a hard time doing single big G or H skills so that won't help them and will probably favor US even more..... As far as ub, looks like releases will possibly be more favored over piroette and transitions so maybe we ll see more big releases and return of mo salto, which the chinese are known for...

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    2. Yes, body type! I've mentioned it before, how come it escaped me this time? It's infuriating and every time I see a juniors podium with Romania and GB it's almost laughable. And China's ambitious plans and bonus system can't do a huge amount with frailty.

      I'd like to see..hmm, hard to think! Having beam mounts excluded from the time allowed, fairer values assigned to some dance skills, more beam connection possibilities, the reintroduction of the vault final rules they sort of brought in and then immediately dropped about 2 years ago. Lots more.

      I think the Mo salto will remain super rare, it's impossible to connect and is a guaranteed dead hang routine breaker.

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  3. I hate how people make it seem like All the USA does is chuck skills. Just because Mykayla does it..it doesn't mean its the whole Team USA. For the most part Martha makes sure that each member competes the hardest skills that will bring in big numbers. She probably knows there's no help in skinners execution which we all know has improved slightly over the years.
    So it seems Maggie Nichols has a second vault. In other words...skinners days on the A team are limited. I dont know how big of a number Maggie could get on floor but if its around 14.7+ she's a lock for worlds...And due to the fact...well I do wanna see bailie first because at jesolo if Maggie didn't have that simple mistake I believe she would her. And could possibly take bailies spot as the #2 or #3 all-arounder. Where kyla comes in I wanna see more upgrades from her. On floor I want her to stay with that first tumbling pass. Just get in consistent.

    Just to add why doesn't Aly do the sissone jump out of the double Arabian piked. And the split leap out the double lay out.. And end with a triple twist what would be her d-score?

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    1. hmm, didn't know Maggie also getting her 2nd vt? well, 2nd vt is never easy for anyone that hasn't been practicing 2nd vt. Esp now that 2nd vt will also need to be above 6.0. Looks like this upcoming worlds vt final will be full of the amanar/cheng combination. We know at least 4 that will most likely try to do that...

      Aly certainly can upgrade her fx incrementally. I think they really trying to nail the consistency of that first pass...

      I fully expect there will be many 60+ AA scores at nationals.... even taking out the bonus and inflation, you would still have multiple gymnasts scoring 58+. Most other federations usually only have 1 or 2 gymnasts that can score 58+...

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    2. Nichols isn't doing a 2nd vault. She confirmed this.

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    3. Yeah I didn't think so either since she's not a vt specialist and just being able to get the amanar down is at this point more than enough..... If she can be consistently strong also on beams and bars and getting her fx up, she can definitely surprise.... I wonder who else will surprise us next.... Brenda?

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    4. Omg my mistake Maggie Nichols does NOT have a second vault. I misread my sources sorry..

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    5. She trained a second vault, but scratched it. Focused on upping the difficulty on other events instead.

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    6. Sensible decision. I wonder what it was?

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    7. Smart decision to drop the second vault and focus on upgrading and refining her skills. Her Amanar scored identical to Simone Biles' at camp.

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  4. So in the latest new, Brenda Dowell wants to come back to try to make 2015 worlds team.... Won't be easy of course given how loaded the team is at this time..... Well, I'll give her an A for effort...

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    1. Just went back and watched her 2014 PG bars. That is a great routine if she still has it.

      https://youtu.be/1vr5q1hHBzA

      It's great to see the US definitely made an effort to bump up what is their "weakest" event. It's too bad that kocian, locklear is out right now as well as gabby still not back to her 2012 ub form. But we also seeing key and kyla trying to make their mark on ub....

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    2. I commend her for making this decision, it's a big undertaking and it's good she can say she has no regrets about not going for elite while she was fit and healthy enough.

      However, I think it will be extremely difficult for her to make a team, and I really don't want to see her heartbroken...hopefully she's realistic about her chances.

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    3. Making it as an AA will be super hard due to the large number of great AA on US team right now. If she can get back her super duper ub with 6.8 and can perform it consistently she could try for the ub specialist. However even this will be hard as this year it's less likely needed as kyla is upping back her ub sv as well as key also trying to up her ub along with simone getting very decent ub score. She would essentially be competing for a EF spot and I do think that skinner has a better chance at getting another vt medal than her getting a medal on ub. So sad for her bc I really like her for even trying even though marta seems not to give her much break. I actually wish that she could've tried a comeback say in 2017 if that was possible bc a lot of the current seniors are gone then....But then that is a very long time from now....

      Is it just me or like it seems like making the US world team is harder than actually facing the world competition sometimes?

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    4. There's very little chance of her making it to Worlds. I mean <1%.

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    5. Which is why I really feel bad for her. I guess she somehow feels that she's missing that chance of competing at worlds, but I mean she did accomplish a lot even if she never did a routine at worlds. Plus she did a lot for OU also... I guess she just feels that she wasn't 100% due to injury recovery back in 2014 but the timing now is even worse...

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    6. Depth is what's hindering Dowell from getting to that Worlds team.

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  5. It's not just you, the US team is so deep that it is now harder to make the US team than actually qualifying for a spot at Worlds this year. That's why watching US Classics and Nationals sometimes is more exciting and nerve-wracking than Worlds.

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  6. Something to add to your nice analysis of the US dominance has to be what the Karoyli's (sp?) have done for team USA. With several camps a year, all of the girls get to know each other and they learn from each other and develop a team mentality. But they also compete against each other and continually raise the bar. This provides the best of two worlds: the team aspect that the Chinese had always enforced but the freedom aspect that makes the western world what it is. That is, the girls get their own coaches, their own individualities, but also get to be part of a team parttime.

    The USA dominance cannot simply be a matter of "the code" or "the resources" because otherwise the US men should be dominant as well and they are anything but.

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    1. Yes, I sort of touched on it by saying the girls get the best of both words - benefits from the centralised system represented by regular national team training camps, and then their own individual gym training. It's amazing how much this has helped in the last 15 years.

      Ah, but resources is a broad term. And I do not think the US men have the same excellence in coaching (not that they don't have great coaches! But not as much 'depth' in talented coaches for MAG) or the same depth - there seems to be proportionately more girls reaching high levels than boys. NCAA could be a factor- there are far more NCAA women's teams than men's, and it is a big incentive to reach level 10/elite.

      There are I think a lot of factors as to why MAG is much healthier looking than WAG in terms of having several top countries, but I don't have the knowledge to properly talk about it.

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    2. I know in terms of MAG in relation to the more resources, but less results as compared to the rest of the world has to do with the actually due to the fact that they DO NCAA. As I understand it, the NCAA restricts the number of hours athletes are allowed to practice. (Which on a side note this is one of the reasons Steve Nunno got in trouble when he first began coaching college gymnastics.)

      Within the last 20 years, which is as far back as I felt interested to look, the only male US gymnasts to medal individually at a Worlds or Olympics either had already finished their NCAA career or never participated to begin with.

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    3. I guess being able to peak before college for WAG does have its advantages. the closer you get to every day life with other priorities such as marriage, mortgages, loan repayments, etc the harder it it compared to before college when pretty much all your expenses paid for by parents...

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  7. I know it's highly unlikely and bordering on delusional, but wouldn't it be cool if part of Simone's increased beam d score was due to the double double dismount?

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    1. Yeah that would be cool but if it's a new element, you would only be able to guessimate how much it should be worth. Anyway, I do wish that she would debut some new skills this year since it would be even more unrealistic to debut no new skill this year and a boatload of new skills next year. I mean if this year and next would be your last two elite years, now would be the time to start putting up new moves in COP...

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    2. I am 50/50 on that. It would be awesome...but so risky, even for her, and having the energy conserved to pull that out at the end could negatively impact the rest of her routine.

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  8. Latest mouthpiece from Grandi. I really can't wait for him to leave. Him and his crony along with many in the IOC have some of the shittiest responses and ideas:

    http://www.ginnasticaartisticaitaliana.it/2015/06/11/bruno-grandi-fig-president-the-new-qualification-system-i-made-it-to-save-the-gymnastics/

    I am most bothered by:

    #7: We don’t like to give more spots to gymnastics because one athlete or a small group can win so many medals? So that only apply to gymnastics and not to swimming (see Micheal Phelp) or track and field? Obviously this also didn't apply when the Soviets were dominant?

    #8: Worlds will now only have 5 per team???!!? ” This is a small advantage I gave to “strong” countries, compared with all I gave to the “weaker” ones” ???!!! Hmm, I don’t even know how to respond to his response here….

    You gotta love it when he also attribute the popularity of artistic gymnastics to popularity in US and media implying that if gymnastics is no longer popular in US then worldwide popularity will crumble??!!

    From reading this piece, I really lose a lot more (as if there's much to start out with) of anything good I could ever possibly see in him. It's not even bc I am fan of US gymnastics but it's really because of his HYPOCRISY and underhandedness...

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    1. I like some of the ideas behind the changes. They are sound in theory. It is the practice that I cannot get behind- taking team spots.

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    2. You're not bothered by what is said in #7 and 8? esp in #8 about limiting worlds team to 5 total? Is that supposed to be 5 + 2 (sorta like Olympics 2020) or is that total 5 all inclusive? How about just leaving it alone at 6?

      Also blaming US media for popularity or lack of popularity of gymnastics? As well as also saying that IOC doesn't want to give more spots to gymnastics because too many medals are won by one person or one group? Those comments are so blatantly directed against US and it has nothing to do with promoting beneficial changes to the sport at all...

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    3. I hate their snide anti-US attitude and I hate the fact they touched world team size. I do like some of what they are proposing to do, and I think it is progressive....in theory. I do NOT like the fact that they are reducing team size for it, and I'm hesitant about the pressure to do world cups out of season/traditional downtime- we've all seen detrimental effects of gymnasts attending everything.

      I said I liked some of the ideas behind the changes, not that I wholly endorse them or anything like that. I've already tried to read this interview but his always annoy me...I'll get to it.

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    4. Initially when I start reading it at the beginning I was optimistic that it might clarify and maybe put forward some ideas to think about. Not saying there's no idea worth talking about but then as you read on it goes into hypocritic comments that has nothing to do with improving the sport and really of blatant attack directly on US with many of them unfounded. I mean like really blatant unjustified direct attacks that really has no logical supports.. And that is what I hate. If he can give a justified statement I would understand, but not this case. As I said, I hate what was said not bc I might be a US fan but bc of the lack of logics behind what was said...

      And we havnt even got to the format for TF in 2018-9 yet....

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    5. Bruno Grandi NEEDS to go. Pronto. His ideas are crappy, and his obsession of containing the US seems to backfire a lot. This new set of rules he unveiled will not only weaken other countries, it boosts the US power by a lot.

      The US is the only country with 5-6 AAers who can compete for gold. Russia, Romania, and China all have 1, and the lower tier federations can't compete with the Big 4. Not to mention, after Rio, Mustafina, Iordache, Komova might retire and they don't have strong AAers to replace those gymnasts.

      Unlike in the US, where there are 5 juniors who are ready to take over for the next quad. Russia, Romania, and to a certain extent, China, doesn't have that luxury.

      Predictions: Next quad, US WAG will distance themselves further from the rest of the group. Romania will slowly die out. When Mustafina retires, Russia will die with her. China will continue to struggle. New powers will arrive and replace those who have fallen. My educated guess? BRAZIL.

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  9. Yes, USA is dominating right now but, I really think China are starting to look to close the gap. Look at the new Chinese national videos (especially Shang Chunsong/Wang Yan FX). The landings are very scary but these upgrades are very exciting Shang is almost up to Simone's routine in D-score! Although I do not think that China will beat them, I feel like they will beat out Russia and Romania for silver in Rio once they master their routines. Hope they stay consistent.

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    1. I wont be that optimistic about china. From the way things looking right now, I think Russia is ahead and will probably stay. Even if they improve more on the floor, they still have to catch up on vt esp with Russia now having the 3 amanar/cheng vt potential already in place even if the landings are a bit messy sometimes. As a team, aside from US, Russia is really the only other one that are competitive in all 4 events.

      As for Romania, I feel real sorry for them being in such a jam. I hope they can get some great help to be competitive again soon or looks like their TF medal streak will end in rio...

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    2. The Chinese vaults will not score well at Worlds. The E panel will kill them because those vaults are poorly executed. Almost no height, dynamics and length. The only good thing that's going on for China is UB and BB, but other than that, they continue to struggle on power events like VT and FX.

      Shang Chunsong's 6.5 FX will probably get Skinner-like E scores or worse. I mean, look at Chunsong's E scores last year, they were very low.

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    3. We don't know the how Russia will perform yet. Their new seniors are nothing but disappointment. But at least they have Mustafina, Komova, and Afanasyeva back now, so that'll be a huge boost for them. I think the team that will most likely shake things up this year and next will be Brazil. Alexandrov is doing wonders over there.

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  10. LIVE FEED - EUROPEAN GAMES - DAY 2 LIVE Artistic Gymnastics | Baku 2015 European Games

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tf4vDu-b5_s


    Competition starts in 7 hours. :)

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    1. Looks like Russia got the team gold as expected with seda pulling into 2nd among the Russians. Lets see if steingruber can break the Russian rank...

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  11. WARNING: LONG RANT AHEAD
    It's interesting that you should bring this up, since it is something I ruminate about alot myself when thinking of the gymternet community.

    Recently Aliya had this to say about the Americans: "They are not like us, they are powerful, less artistic. But in modern gymnastics a lack of femininity does not reduce the marks. Yes, there is talk that our sport must again become beautiful, but these are only words."

    First I'd like to say that I'm always puzzled as to why the Russian press feel the need to goad gymnasts with what I believe to be political and provocative questions about the Americans; the Americans don't feel compelled to do the same, maybe because they are too busy winning.

    But this statement is indicative to a powerful strain of thought perpetrated by those who claim to love "true" artistic gymnastics. Catherine, you are exactly right that the Code is not made for the US. The simple reality is that the US has acclimated to the Code and the entire US gymnastics system - one that finds the balance between centralized cohesion and personalized cultivation - has developed the elasticity to adapt something that is not in their control. I love how you pointed out that Grandi and Kim have, rather hypocritically, both expressed dislike for how the Code, which they undoubtedly had some hand in creating, has has been efficiently been exploited by the US. As if the flaws of the system are the fault of the US.

    The roots of why many people dislike US dominance but have no problem with USSR dominance (which was far more politically motivated imo), aside from the understanding differing in taste, have more pernicious causes. Namely: classism and sexism.

    Yes, I uttered the dreaded "-ism" words. And I don't believe I'm wrong. Body bias is inherently sexist. (Notice how we do not dwell on men's bodies in the same way). This becomes very clear when fans just outright bring sexual norms into the picture, in the way that Aliya did. Because apparently you must be "feminine" in Women's Artistic gymnastics in order to mean something. But what the hell does that even mean?! If Aliya is more "feminine" than Simone because she is sleek, balletic and graceful, then that begs the question: Isn't that a little fucked up? These beliefs are operating on our oldest assumptions of what it means to be a woman. In such beliefs, muscular development and ability, power and dynamism are things that degrade femininity because they are too "masculine." Hence someone like Simone is less "feminine" than Aliya and thus lesser of worth as a gymnast, an athlete, and if the emotional conviction of such demagogues are to go by, as a person as well.

    I am so sick of women's bodies being treated this way. I am so sick of people telling women you can only be this certain way or else you're less of a woman.

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    1. Thank you! Very good read. Don't bother complaining about RRG, because the author is a staunch Russian fan. Her blogs is bias a hell, and while she makes great points, some of her entries are borderline fantard. Any criticism of the Russian gymnasts gets her riled up. It's impossible to talk gymnastics with her, not unless you're on her side.

      Anyway, let me give my reaction about the Mustafina's comment about artistry and femininity. We all know Russian gymnasts' history for being a sore loser and a trash talker, so this isn't new to me anymore. However, no matter how used you are to this kind of talk coming from the Russians, it still gets you annoyed and pissed off because it shows how poor losers they are.

      Instead of making excuses of why they are losing to the Americans, Mustafina should open her damn eyes, look around and see that it's her own federation that's causing them to lose.

      A) The Russians are not what they used to be anymore. After London, their program, depth, and form have deteriorated to the point of the whole team was hanging on to ONE gymnast.

      B) Their juniors are very weak. Kharenkova and the recent senior Tutkhalyan are nothing against the new Americans seniors. Bailie Key would beat them both blind folded, honestly. Once Mustafina and Komova retires, who is going to replace them? No one will, because no one can. Kharenkova is an inconsistent mess, and Tutkhalyan is the same.

      C) Russians doesn't posses the spark that used to make them great. Yes, they are still tremendous gymnasts, but watching the Russians made me sleepy. All three women were NOT even close to artistic. I'll explain. Mustafina's helicopter legs, and Tutkhalyan's Nabieva/Paseka form DID NOT scream artistry.

      Komova's UB, while lovely, she had tons of form errors that caused her to have low E score. Tutkhalyan's UB made Aly Raisman's UB look like a gold-winning medal performance. Mustafina's is lovely as ever, that I admit.

      All 3 Russians on BB were not artistic. A bunch of arm waving isn't artistic, and someone should tell Mustafina that. Let me start with Tutkhalyan. Her leaps are horrible, and her feet are flexed sometimes. Her low E score reflected her terrible form and execution. Komova is so damn slow, like a turtle, but her leaps are freaking gorgeous. Mustafina is becoming like Kyla Ross, but with more arm waving. She's so slow, only had 1 connection, and paused many times. Not unless pausing is considered artistic, then Mustafina artistic.

      Floor: Aside from Tutkhalyan, Komova and Mustafina BARELY danced, instead they stood in the corner and waved their damn arms. If I have to describe Komova's movements on FX, I would say it was like a sloth. Super slow, it made me sleepy. And there's Mustafina, I would say hers was like a confused turtle, she botched her dance elements, and she stood on two feet twice. None of the Russians broke 14 on FX because their performances are not deserving to get 14+. The dance was nonexistent, the choreo sucked, and their performance were boring.

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  12. But wait! There's more. -_-

    Because it doesn't just end at sexism. Our perceptions of artistic gymnastics and female gymnasts are also skewered by classism. The RRG blog is a good example of this (on a tangential note I seem to be curiously banned from making cogent polite comments on said blog). I've brought this up before. One of the main complaints is that the US is mainly about tumbles and any dancing they do is perky cheerleading type of dance that rouse the crowd through their spunky energy. Contrast that with the European, or more specifically Russian form of artistry: classical, graceful and not nearly as crowd pleasing. But one is seen as intrinsically better than the other.

    The complaint really is that the US with, their tumbles and smiles and emphasis on sound conditioning, represent the lowest common denominator of gymnastics. They're gymnastics is accessible, easily understood. But the Russians with their highfalutin ballet training, a creation of old Europe that has long since gained respect as a high-class art form, are on the opposite side of the spectrum, representing the most narrow and refined, and therefore better, style of gymnastics. Or so the thought goes.

    I reject this notion that ballet is somehow better than hip-hop (often used in the pejorative sense by many artistry stans) or otherwise alternatively inspired routines performed by the Americans is somehow of lesser value than the ballet inspired Russians or the folk inspired Romanians. The whole "high-art vs. low-art", traditional European refinement vs. Modern American pop culture should not be either an argument or an influence as it is fallacious. One is not better than the other just because it has gained the esteem that old time tradition and backing by the cultural elite has given it.

    The Americans, despite the Rodionenko's views, have not imposed anything on the gymnastic world. They've simply made compatible the system they abide by with their own way of doing things. God knows, neither the Code nor how the US program does things are without fault. But until Russia gets it's shit together, neither it's athletes nor it's fans have any right to cast slurs upon a nation that happens to be better than they are at the moment. Romania is in a much worse spot than Romania but seem to complain less than half the amount that Russian fans and officials do. Yes, I realize there are more Russian dedication amongst fans than Romanian, but still.

    The gap is depressing, but it's there for an actual reason. Not this conspiracy crap or degradation of taste that every tool on the gymternet is supposing.

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    1. I won't comment on Aliya's use of the word "feminism" because I've only seen the english translation, so I can only hope that something was lost in translation. But I do find it ironic that Aliya did say that the saving grace for her and her teammates is their choreography, but I don't even know if that statement is even true anymore.

      The Russian floor routines in Baku left no lasting impression and were very boring. Komova's in particular seemed like an exercise in deep breathing mixed with sun salutations. And the Mustafina and Afanasyeva's floor in particular are tumbles and turns interspersed with poses and waving arms.

      They look very elegant and pretty standing there yes, but that doesn't make it artistic.

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    2. I hope the medals Russia won at Baku will minimize their complaints and hope that they will just go back and work harder instead of complaining. I mean after all they are still an envy of the world for their bars performance. I don't hear the US complain about Russian or Chinese bars. US is getting better at bars but Russia definitely can beat the US in this.

      All this talk of elegance, artistry, etc I mean what events are they referring to? Certainly not vault, or bars or beam.... I mean the only this artistry whatever thing can really refer to is fx and that is only one event anyway. And we all know that being good in one event by itself wont get you that team gold or AA gold.

      I do think that the open end COP did have a lot giving rise to US dominance in that they are able to be rewarded for having higher total SV than anyone else. Aside from that, their E score however, is still high so can't say they're just chucking it...

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    3. Lol, you mean feminine not feminist, which Aliya most definitely did not say. She and her camp have said stuff like this before. It is well known that the Russian camp has very particular ideas about femininity. So, as much as I like her, I'm not giving her the benefit of the doubt on this one. I'm certainly not going to go easy on the fans.

      Ha, sun salutations! Well, Aliya is a beautiful gymnast but I've noticed since the Olympics that her choreo and performance quality seems increasingly empty. The routine she showed at Baku was pretty - when she wasn't busy chucking in dance skills. There's a certain out-of-breath trait that the Russians, Aliya in particular, share. They take these long pauses that throw off the flow entirely and one move blends with another so that their choreography becomes indistinguishable from one another.

      But you have to commend Seda. She was the only not huffing and puffing away.

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  13. Well I think mustafina's and komova's endurance is lacking because they are just coming back but those fx routines were horrible . They don't even dance to the music. It not even just that the fx routines weren't performed well, the chereography is so horrible.

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  14. I always believed that the Olympics shows who the world economic powers are. The top medal earners are always the top economic powers. It's no surprise, in that case, that the US is starting to dominate gymnastics.

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