Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Olympics Hype: Jake Dalton vs. Zou Kai on Floor Exercise

Dear Gymnastics Editors, Why? xx, Uncle Tim

Today, we're not going to talk about pervy photos that make gay men giggle like a bunch of pubescent teenagers. Sorry.

As I stated in my last post, I'm tired of the Uchimura vs. Leyva vs. Orozco rivalry, so I am going to create my own hype as a way of introducing you to other gymnasts. Today, I want to talk about Jake Dalton and Zou Kai, who could medal on floor exercise, and just like last time, I will tell you what I love and hate about these two gymnasts. Some of it is personal taste, but most of it is related to the judging process and technique.

So, let's get started with the 2008 Olympic gold medalist who also happens to be the 2009 and 2011 silver medalist at the World Championships.

As soon as Zou Kai steps on the floor, your jaw should drop. His opening pass--a double-twisting double layout--is one of the hardest mounts being done in men's gymnastics. (An F in the code.) What makes his laid-out double-double even more impressive is his ability to stick. The boy has incredible, incredible, incredible air sense, and when he's on, he sticks 98.9% of the time on floor. (Yes, I pulled that statistic out of my ass.)

Unfortunately, neither his double-twisting double layout nor his ability to stick save him from the darkest reaches of gymnastics hell. In case you didn't know, there's a special circle of hell for those male gymnasts who do ridiculous jumpy things in their floor routines. In men's gymnastics, it's illegal to simply step into the corner, which means that many gymnasts opt to do unidentifiable sissone-ish/stag-ish jumps.

For the record: These jumps aren't a requirement. They don't get you bonus points. They aren't even in the code. But the men still do them. Most will do 1 or 2, but Zou Kai does like a billion of them in his routine. (Okay, at the 2011 Chinese Nationals, he did 4 of them, but when I was watching, it felt like a billion.)

Dear Zou Kai, If you're going to do these "leaps," please show some amplitude and straighten your back leg. Many thanks, Uncle Tim

Zou Kai's "leaps" are not the only thing that lands him in a special circle of gymnastics hell. He likes to cross his legs when he's twisting, as well. GAH! Gymnastics is NOT figure skating! You are NOT a helicopter! You do NOT have to pee! STOP crossing your legs!

Dear Zou Kai, You can resolve this problem. Push off the floor with one foot right next to the other. So simple. So basic. Try it. xx, Uncle Tim

I could continue to nitpick Zou Kai's routine--his semi-straight legs, his semi-pointed toes--but I'll stop myself. As you can tell, I have quite a few pet peeves on floor. Thankfully, Jake Dalton makes me forget about all of them.

Nota bene: Deep down, I know that Jake Dalton has flaws, but I can forgive him for one simple reason. His toe point is a gift from the gymnastics gods. 

Dear Gymnastics Gods, Thank you. Amen.

Now, if I had to be more objective and look past his toe point, I would say that he does have a few problem areas. For instance, he does a couple of those fugly "leaps" into the corner:

Nice toe point, though, and certainly more identifiable.

He lands his triple twist (his dismount) with his chest low:

And he has bad knees. By that, I mean that they can be unflattering. For example, he likes to bend his knees on his first pass (a laid-out double arabian called a Tamayo)...

...and when he twists, his knees bend ever so slightly. But his toe point makes me forget about all of that. 

Honestly, what do you see? His bent knees or his toe point?

I'm hoping that the judges also fall in love with Jake's toe point. You see, Jake is a bit of an underdog figure. Though he has posted one of the highest floor scores of the year (16.1 to Zou Kai's 15.95), the Boomer Sooner is a newcomer to the international scene, and though his routine is hard--his Tamayo is an F-- his difficulty score is lower than Zou Kai's. (Zou Kai starts out of a 6.9, while Jake starts out of a 6.6.) So, Jake needs a big execution score, if he is going to make finals and medal.

Dear Jake, Please do not wear sandals in London. Your toes are your most valuable assets right now. xx, Uncle Tim


  1. Just read every post in a hurry! Love love love. keep it up!

    (That's what sh...oh, nevermind. I'll leave the humor to you.)

    1. The highest FX score in the world this year does not belong to Jake Dalton. That belongs to Steven Legendre - 16.2. He did that on Day 2 of Olympic Trials.

      Judges don't seem to care that much about toepoint (or horrid twisting form, for that matter), or Zou Kai and Flavius Koczi would never win anything. Both of those men managed to finish ahead of Dalton in Tokyo.

      I like Zou Kai, but his feet are horrible. The white socks combined with the red pommel pants are not a good look for him.

    2. I meant to type, "one of the highest." Oops! Thanks for the correction, Ono!

  2. Oh my...
    I'm just so happy to have found this blog.
    (way too many bitchy girly gymnastic blogs out there, fighting over leo's colors and what not. ***rolls eyes***)
    The drawing over the pics are just too funny, especially the pink hearts.
    Jake Dalton's feet points certainly deserves them!

  3. And...
    Speaking of "unidentifiable sissone-ish/stag-ish jumps", you should write about Ioannis Melissanidis, that guy had some really cool corner/transitions stuff.
    Not to mention the superb tumbling.
    (just throwing it out there...)