Friday, 12 August 2016

The one where Shang Chunsong gets totally robbed

It just wouldn't feel like a proper AA final without some controversy over the medals, especially an Olympic final.

Not gold of course. Simone Biles, as we all knew she would, destroyed the competition, winning by an unheard-of margin of 2.1 points in an Olympic all-around final. It was an absolute pleasure to watch her in action, as it always is. She has been so dominant for so long and it's great to see her add Olympic success to that - the only way such an athlete can enter mainstream consciousness despite her worlds medal tally.

Nor silver - Aly Raisman definitively put the ghosts of the 2012 tie-break AA to rest by storming to second place, behind only Simone. I wouldn't have thought it possible that she could get better than she was 4 years ago since coming back to that level in the first place is such a hard ask, but she really and truly has. The footage of her crying after floor are just special.

But bronze. As great a gymnast as Aliya Mustafina is, that was not a bronze medal performance. It was for half her routines, but she had a bad time on floor and beam which her placement doesn't reflect. Not when Shang Chunsong had such a great competition, hitting everything out of the park. Yes, yes she has a super-weak vault but even with that she had a huge d-score advantage over Aliya. And yes, her frame gives her built-in form deductions with her knees and legs - I'd be the first to admit that she does not have the lines of some of her team-mates. But to lose by a tenth when she was THAT GOOD is a joke. Her beam and floor were fantastic and weren't rewarded enough. This isn't like Glasgow where she got 4th thanks to her vault when everyone else hit. Aliya's beam with no acro series and corresponding super-low d-score and weak floor with again very low difficulty due to non-completion of turns should have taken her out of podium contention. And more than likely would have done had she been anyone else.

I'm tired of the Chinese getting underscored, but Shang Chunsong seems to get it especially bad. It just seems petty, as if they don't like the way she looks and don't want to reward her because it's not something they want to promote? I could be completely off the mark there but it smacks of some sort of grudge, some sort of fear of underage because she looks so young. No excuse for not knowing her story now and there's certainly no excuse for lowballing her.

There has been so much argument over Nastia V Shawn, Jordyn V Vika, Gabby V Vika. But this is the one that has the most merit. This can't be dismissed as 'It's a subjective sport' or 'She marginally outshone her'. There is no reason in the wide world why Shang didn't merit a few more tenths. It would only have taken just over one. Her execution still has the Chinese precision, it's certainly a lot better than most.

Happy as I am for the rest of the podium - and I am happy for Aliya too, it's not as if she has bought the judges or anything - things like this really, really piss me off. As if screwing the Chinese in subdivision 1 of qualifications wasn't enough.


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  2. I'm conflicted because Mustafina and Shang chunsong are easily my two personal favourite gymnasts in the all round competition.I love Mustafina because she always puts her best scores up for the teams and because for the last 4 years she has sacrificed her physical health in order to ensure the success of the Russian team. Shang Chunsong on the other hand , tries so hard - even competing with a fever, never gives up in the middle of a routine, is quite dynamic and has made a real effort to tidy up her routines yet constantly gets under scored. It was quite heartbreaking to see her get Another fourth in a final. So I'm happy that Mustafina got a medal. But at the same time I can't quite help but wish Shang Chunsong had also found her way onto the podium.

  3. 150 percent agreed, girl. And Welcome back! :)

    What I can't stand is this is being spun by some into a straw man. It's not about Aliya's scores. For the most part Aliya's scores were fair (though I would put her beam a bit lower tbh and maybe her floor too) and her supporters know that so that's what they try to concentrate on. But that's not the issue. IT'S ABOUT SHANG'S SCORES WHICH WEREN'T RIGHT. And again, I think her supporters know that so they ignore it. Also, there's this nonsense that Shang shouldn't be expected to win anything with just an FTY and that's bull crap. I second your weariness of the Chinese being shafted. Shang has often been the recipient of suspicious underscoring and I tooo have wondered if there was some sort of vendetta against her driven by suspicion about her age on the judges part. And I'm tired of seeing Aliya winning bronze medals she hasn't fully earned and people defending her because she's the Russian Queen. They can't even admit that, like all top competitors with huge name recognition and success, Aliya gets padded scores. Simone and Aly get them too but not so much that they win medals they don't deserve. This is like the millionth time it's happened for Aliya, and while maybe some of those can be argued in her favor I'm at lost to see how this one can.

    Aliya is one of my favorite gymnasts of all time, but I refuse to be stupid about her just because I'm a fan. I'm happy about how her Olympics is turning out and I want to see her win gold on UB over Maddie, but this bronze was not earned and it's the judges' fault.

    That aside, Simone, Aly, Aimee and Mihai had me in literal tears of joy (as well as sadness for Shang) and I thought the scoring was otherwise fair, realistic and more restrained.

  4. Aliya Mustafina was rewarded for being Aliya Mustafina. Shang Chunsong was punished for being Shang Chunsong. It's that simple.

  5. How are her crossed legs and bent knees due to her frame? Just because someone is tiny does not mean they can't keep their legs together. It's a technique problem, quite common among gymnasts of all shapes and sizes, and has nothing to do with their body type.

    She has no problem keeping them tight when pirouetting on the bars.

    Her floor gets plenty of deductions for loose twisting with knee and feet form. I've seen a few incomplete twists too though she has no problem continuing on with the rebounding skill facing along a different plane - still a further deduction each time though.

    As for the consensus, the vault I saw was really quite poor. Only a single twist, very low landing, huge step. Now I can't remember if this was from AA final so perhaps I'm wrong but that vault I saw was not a hit. It could've easily scored two points less than the decent double twist I saw from Mustafina and in my mind could've been enough to match Mustafina's weak effort on beam and floor.

  6. Thanks for this. Ugh I know you did a full breakdown of the judges' scoring when the FIG released their report from London and I hope you get a chance to do the same here. Honestly I haven't even bothered watching EFs since China got screwed out of so many EF spots due to being in Subdivision 1, most notably Fan Yilin. It wasn't just the Chinese too; Nina Derwael and maybe Tutya Yilmaz missed out on event finals because of competing in the early subdivision. I know the Chinese federation sent a letter to the FIG, but Nellie Kim dismissed it so I don't think anything is going to happen.

  7. I originally held out hope that perhaps it was just unluckiness of being in the first subdivision that they were being so relatively underscored, but the team final really highlighted how the judges take as severe a deduction as they can when the Chinese, in particular, make a mistake as opposed to the Russians or Americans. Like, I get that the tinier Chinese gymnasts like Wang Yan and Shang Chunsong, will never compare in terms of power, but for their size and ability, they are pretty damn dynamic and do a lot of skills with a lot of amplitude. For example, when you have someone like Wang Yan who has impeccable form and with a stuck landing on vault compared to Maria Paseka who has bent knees, split legs everywhere and a messy landing still score higher in execution, there is something fishy. Also, to whoever wrote that Shang Chunsong appearance of crossed feet and bent knees is inexcusable, can we cite Mustafina or Ponor's REALLY ugly twisting form as well? In particular, the point made that her legs appear straight on bars when she pirouettes, I don't see a difference between that and her twisting on floor with the exception of crossed feet. Her frame is also definitely the culprit in making her lines less clean because if you noticed, she's EXTREMELY thin to the point of her looking no more than just muscles and bones.

    1. Crossed feet are crossed feet. It's a technique/performance issue. Absolutely nothing to do with her frame. As is the under rotated twisting.

      Her legs are straight and together on the bars. On floor they are not. It's as simple as that.

      No you cannot cite Mustafina or Ponor's twisting form as it is not in relevant context. Who is trying to excuse them? Both of them underperformed on floor at this competition anyway.

      Also Wang Yan had bent knees on both her vaults. Her first vault also had piked hips and a large step on landing. Her second vault had a small hop. You seem to have some sort of irrational bias as that is not "impeccable form" and they were obviously not stuck landings.

      I'm not disagreeing with the status quo here. Merely pointing out that Chunsong has clear deductions on floor that many of you seem to disregard.

    2. But Mustafina and Ponor's twisting form is ABSOLUTELY relevant here because they don't get deductions taken for similarly poor execution when the Chinese do. Western gymnasts were given the benefit of the doubt, and Chinese gymnasts were given the highest possible deductions. That's not a fair competition. It's not that you can't take deductions from Shang - you absolutely can. But it's underscoring when you ONLY take those deductions from Chinese gymnasts and not from others.

      I don't think Mustafina was overscored in the AA final - if anything the judges were unusually harsh on her in crediting her FX D-score, but there's just no way that her overall performance was superior to Shang's. And a lot of people keep bringing up Shang's mediocre FTY as an excuse for her placing - I'm sorry, but she still had a massive D score advantage over Mustafina (with Mustafina's unusually low BB and FX) and her execution was simply not poor enough in comparison to warrant placing behind her. Shang was consistently and in some cases egregiously underscored.

      And to then read Bruno Grandi's comments about Western styles of gymnastics being superior... If I were China I'd be incensed.

  8. There has to be an investigation at least on the scoring system as it appears to be biased for most part. The Americans were severely overscored on the Uneven Bars. Like missing multiple handstands and the release is close to the bars and still gets a 9 plus execution. Quite notably, Douglas' mistake on bars EF where she struggled with her handstand which is an automatic .5 deduction plus a hop on the landing which is about point 1-3 deduction and still got an 8.5+ execution whereas Fan Yilin's execution was about 8.3+ in QF with no major mistake. This unfair scoring makes the sport look bad and boring.

  9. So glad to hear from you again! :) thought you dropped off the earth :).... Yeah, Aliya again managed to come through and with controversy of course. Just like she won beam medal in 2014 with no acro series. Aliya and controversy is like twins. I did think shang should have got the bronze though...

    Credit to aliya for coming back and carrying the team again, showing her best performance during the team. Melka and Seda still not there yet in term of consistency to lead the team like aliya...

    I think for the forseable future, US will continue to dominate but it would still be so interesting to see what will happen given that there is a new national coordinator as well as the new cop and formats

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