With a new quad always comes a new code of points. Not a complete overhaul from scratch, but the FIG endeavour (with varying success) to make adjustments in order to address issues that have arisen in the previous quad. There are always issues to address as the sport continues to evolve, Improving the composition and balance of exercises in terms of difficulty versus execution, encouraging artistry, weighting the apparatus scoring potential equally for AA gymnasts, fairly assigning difficulty evaluation to skills etc.
In this post I will look at the changes to the code, and what we may expect when competition gets going.
The biggest change in terms of affecting the scores comes from the composition requirement (CR). The number of composition requirements on bars, beam, and floor have been lowered from five to four. The composition requirements are worth 0.5 each, and in most elite level routines up until this point, gymnasts would complete all requirements adding 2.50 to their D score.
In the new code, the dismount requirement has been removed from all three pieces (Gymnasts would receive 0.5 for a dismount of D or above, and 0.3 for a dismount of C value), meaning that there is only a maximum of 2.00 to be awarded in composition requirement, and that consequently D scores will be lower than they have been.
This does not mean that we will be seeing lots of simple dismounts, as the dismount can still count towards the eight highest skills for D score, and particularly on beam, there is greater reward for some of the harder dismounts in terms of bonus now, so for those that are capable of the big skills there is greater incentive. What it does mean is that should a gymnast be capable of a difficult routine with eight highly valued skills, but not a harder dismount, she will not be at an immediate disadvantage.
In addition to the CR change, there is an interesting change in landing deductions. Whereas in the previous code it was 0.3 for a very large step or jump, judged as being more than shoulder width, now the deduction is 0.3 for a step or jump of more than a metre. There is quite a difference between the width of a gymnasts shoulders, and a whole metre, so a change that on the surface very much favours the gymnasts here, but it can take focus away from accuracy on landing, and therefore perhaps encourage some to go for tumbles they are less secure on which is a risk.
In general faults and penalties from the E panel, there is no longer a 0.1 deduction option for being too close to the bars or beam on a dismount, it is now a 0.3 only.
Let’s look at the changes to individual apparatus.
There is an specific change in evaluating the handspring double front vault. In the new code, if the second salto is not completed because the gymnast lands on the feet and any other body part simultaneously, then the vault will be recognized as Handspring tuck front only. For me a very wise move from the FIG, and not before time. Finally discouraging the throw it and hope double fronts trend we have seen over the last few years. The code should encourage and reward the safety of the gymnast above all else.
There has also been a firm message sent about two handed repulsion from the vault, whereas the general requirement that gymnasts must push off from two hands is not new, the big 2.00 point deduction is. This means that Cheng vaults that were more somersault with a one handed lever for momentum with just a brush of the second hand (See Mykayla Skinner USA) than vault will be a thing of the past. At least they should be, Mykayla is now competing in college, whether she is completely finished with elite I don’t know, but to be fair to her, she had actually improved this aspect of her Cheng over last summer. It will take someone else coming along that does the same thing, but as the message is a clear DON’T, it’s unlikely we will get to test whether the judges would implement this.
A couple of changes to the specific deductions, group five vaults (Roundoff on to the board, half turn onto the vault, salto off) do not now have a deduction in the first flight phase for missing degrees of turn onto the vault. However in the repulsion phase, staggered hand placement for Group 1, 2 & 5 vaults (not applicable for Salto fwd stretched with long axis turn) now has a 0.3 as well as a 0.1 deduction in place.
There is also a 0.3 deduction now available for prescribed long axis turn begun too early whereas there was only 0.1 available, in other words don’t twist straight off the vault. This rightly sets apart those with the big clear block before initiating the twist.
The body position deductions in second flight are also very specifically laid out, the first cross is a 0.1 deduction, the second a 0.3 for a bigger fault.
In terms of vault values, I have made a table here so you can see that there has been an overall drop, so expect vault scores to drop considerably. I have included somersaulting vaults only, and at present omitted vaults with a full turn on entry as we have not seen them become popular in competition for some time. Should they start to be used again, I will add them in.
Of the vaults we have seen most often at elite level, the handspring double front has not only been hit with more severe downgrading if not fully rotated (see above) , but also drops 0.6 in D score, the highest devaluation of all the vaults. It is still the highest scoring, but the message is very much do not bring this vault if you are unable to compete it safely, and compete it well.
The Amanar gets a 0.5 deduction, bringing it to within 0.4 as opposed to 0.5 of the double twisting Yurchenko thus slightly closing the gap, and again encouraging only those that can compete the vault well to bring it to competition, and to discourage coaches and gymnasts from pushing for the harder vault banking on the D score carrying them through. I’m very happy about this, as there have been far too many messy and dangerous looking Amanars.
What we will likely see from those that can are more Chengs. Now worth 0.2 more than the Amanar, and 0.6 more than the double twisting Yurchenko, a good Cheng is going to be a huge Advantage in AA competition. On the British side, my money is on Ellie Downie to be working towards this big vault, her Lopez is very good, and I could see her getting the upgrade in.
Vaults with changes in value
On bars having removed the dismount composition requirements, the remaining requirements are:
1. Flight element from HB – LB – 0.50
2. Flight element on the same bar – 0.50
3. Different grips (no cast, mount or dismount) 0.50
4. Non flight element with minimum 360° turn – 0.50
A sensible general change on bars to start with, if a handguard breaks during the routine causing a fall or interruption, a technical issue beyond the gymnast’s control, the gymnasts may now show the guard to the D1 judge who can now give permission for them to leave the podium, and then give permission for them to repeat the entire exercise scoring from scratch.
There is now a deduction of 0.30 for starting the routine by stepping under the low bar and jumping to catch the high bar. Jumping to catch the high bar is fine, walking under the low bar to do it is not. It is described as undisciplined behaviour!
There is a cap on root skills at 3 only, so for example three Stalder or clear circle based skills only can count toward the D score, composition requirements, or connections. This doesn’t affect any of the British gymnasts, but if you look at for example US Gymnast Laurie Hernandez, she has used up to six Stadler root skills in her routine.
Connection bonus remains the same 0.1 for D+D, 0.2 for D (flight – same bar or LB to HB) + C or more (on HB and must be performed in this order) and D+E (both flight elements)
Apparatus deductions almost remain the same, there is the addition of 0.1 or 0.3 specific deduction available for body alignment in handstand and cast to handstand.
There is also a deduction on Shaposhnikova skills in that it is no longer acceptable to upstart out of them, the 0.5 for an empty swing now applies here.
In terms of skill values, the Arabian mounts which haven’t been popular for a long time now get an upgrade, the piked version going from an E to a G, will we see anyone risk it over the next quad?
Jaegers were all rated D, so prepare for a lot of piked Jaegers as they are now upgraded to an E, with the straight version an F. The straight Gienger is now an E, so worth it for the likes of new senior Ellesse Oates who already has a good strong Geinger with the height and time in the air to work toward getting it fully stretched and going for the higher difficulty.
There is a devaluation for shoots to high bar from Stalder and In bar Stalder, and clear circles from C to B, Hecht versions remain at a C, so we could see more of them, but they are far trickier. I think we’ll see the younger gymnasts using the shoots still, and working toward Shap skills which have retained their value.
We’re likely to see a few double front half out dismounts, as whereas they were worth the same as the double front, the added half now gets you an E difficulty, so now becomes one of the more well rewarded dismounts. I’ve spotted a couple in training already.
So really at the elite level, other than the 0.5 off the D scores from the dismount requirement which will see lower overall scores, I expect bars to look pretty much the same for the moment, save more piked Jaegers, and some double front half dismounts coming along.
Bars elements with changes in value
On beam having removed the dismount composition requirement, the remaining requirements for CR are:
1. One connection of at least two different dance elements, one being a leap or hop with 180° split or straddle position – 0.50
2. Turn (from group 3) – 0.50
3. One acro series, minimum two flight elements, one being a salto (elements may be the same)- 0.50
4. Acro elements in different directions (fwd/swd and backwards) – 0.50
In specific apparatus deductions, poor rhythm in connections is now 0.1 each time as opposed to once only, adjustment (necessary steps and movement) is also now 0.1 each time.
Body posture faults are more specific than before, there are 0.1 deductions for:
– Head, trunk, shoulder and arm positions,
– Feet not pointed/ relaxed/ turned in
– Lack of work in relevé
– Insufficient amplitude of leg swings/kicks
For the content of the exercise still the eight highest valued skills count, but instead of there being a maximum of five acro, and a minimum of three dance, it is now a minimum of three acro, and three dance, with the two remaining skills optional to which category they are in. This is to stop gymnasts relying wholly on dance elements other than the required acro series, as a routine with two acro and six dance elements would be poorly weighted.
In connections, C+C, and B+E for 0.1 remain, as do C/D +D, B+D (fwd elements), and B+F for 0.2.
All connections must be rebounding, with the criteria described thus:
Connections with rebounding effect utilize the elasticity of the apparatus and develop speed in one direction.
Landing (on 2 feet) from the 1st flight element with hand support followed by an immediate take-off/rebound into the 2nd element, or
Landing from the 1st flight element (with/without hand support) on one leg and placing the free leg with an immediate rebound from both legs into the 2nd element.
Dismounts may also now be used for connection value, the roundoff triple twist which we have seen from Amy Tinkler, and in training from junior Taeja James, now gets 0.6 for the F difficulty, plus 0.2 in connection value. Ellie Downie’s double Arabian is now worth a huge 0.7 for the G rated skill, plus the 0.2 for connection value. The other big reward dismount is the full in, which Kelly Simm competed at at Olympic trials, again a G element, so worth 0.9 in total.
So with beam, although there is no longer a composition requirement for a D or above dismount, we are very likely to see many more as the quad progresses. What I hope we don’t see are gymnasts forcing the skills for the difficulty and connection bonus, but under rotating twists, landing deep squat double Arabains, and full in’s with heads to knees. Not only unaesthetic, but also dangerous.
In dance and mixed connections, the four previous 0.1 connections remain:
C + C or more (Dance only)
A + C (Turns only)
D (salto) to 1 foot + A scale
(This order & no step is permitted)
In addition there is now 0.1 for B+D mixed.
0.2 for D+D of more remains.
The series bonus of 0.1 remains for three skills either rebounding or non rebounding, of B+B+C or above, so should any of the gymnasts dismount from two flicks or a roundoff flick into their complex dismounts, there is even more to be gained. The change to the series bonus is that dance and mixed series are now also allowed here rather than just acro, this could actually be a very exciting and creative change, as there as numerous possibilities, however we will likely see a lot of something like change leap, change half, Korbut flick (C+D+B) for 0.2 in connection, 0.1 series bonus, the leap composition requirement fulfilled, and a comparatively ‘easy’ landing.
Mounts are due to make comeback, firstly it is no longer allowed to mount the beam with anything other than at least an A valued skill, no more just jumping on. Secondly eighteen mounts have gone up in value as you can see by the table below. We have already seen many flick to chest stand mounts from the juniors, with these raised to a D difficulty, expect many more. We have also seen a fair few Yurchenko mounts in training clips, specifically lay out versions. The Yurchenko is now a D, and the layout an E, a life time ago I used to do this mount, and I hated the flick on Yurchenko, as I worried about missing my hands, but loved the layout version as I had more time with my eyes on the beam before planting my foot. You do in reality have plenty of time to see the beam though in both, and I think we’ll see both become much more popular.
The mount can be used for series bonus, and acro requirement, Phoebe Turner, is doing a lovely flick on linked to flick layout, she is also training a flick, flick triple twist dismount, so is going big on beam!
There are a lot of changes to leap values, the split and straddle leaps and jumps are all upgraded as far as up to the change half which remains a D. With split and straddle leaps/jumps now a B, I expect to see some split jump Onodi’s coming, punch front split jumps/or the more dynamic split jump punch front, and if a fast twister could please do a split jump Rufolva that would be great, thank you. Turning jumps are also upgraded, so expect to see those return, and the change quarter leap the Johnson with the extra quarter turn is now an E which is great news for Junior Zoe Simmons who does hers really well.
For dismounts, the gainer skills off the end have been downgraded, so likely we will see less of them.
So beam has the potential for some really interesting new work with these changes, for unique combinations, and a huge variety of skill selection. Lets hope we see that.
Beam elements with changes in value
On floor having removed the dismount composition requirement, the remaining requirements are:
1. A dance passage composed of two different leaps or hops (from the Code), connected directly or indirectly (with running steps, small leaps, hops, chassé, chainé turns). One of them with 180°cross/side split or straddle position
(The objective is to create a large flowing and traveling movement pattern.)
* No jumps or turns are permitted because they are stationary. Chainé turns (1⁄2 turns on two feet) are allowed because they are traveling steps. Leaps and hops must land on one leg if performed as the 1st element in the dance passage. 0.50
2. Salto with long axis turn (min. 360 ̊) 0.50
3. Salto with double Broad axis turn 0.50
4. Salto bwd and salto fwd (no aerials) in the same or different acro line 0.50
For turning leaps, split and straddle leaps are capped at one and a half turns, this mean that we will now not see the double turning split leap that Claudia submitted to both Europeans and Olympic Games in 2016. More complex leaps like turning ring leaps are capped at one and a half turns.