Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pommel Horse Primer: Dismounting with a Russian

Zoltan Magyar was a boss.

That was, like, a terrible dismount, right?
He just, like, botched his dismount, right? 
He was supposed to go to, like, a handstand or something, right? 

News Flash!

Gymnasts do not have to do a handstand when they dismount the pommel horse.

I know, right? It's hard to wrap your mind around. It's like the 4th dimension of gymnastics or something. Everyone who is anyone seems to do handstand dismounts, especially at major international meets. But believe it or not, you can dismount with a Russian. Let's take a look...

Russians 301: Russian Dismounts

A Russian dismounting with a Russian. So matchy-matchy. Totes cutsies!

That's an old video of Nikolai Andrianov on pommel horse. Believe it or not, his dismount is not a failed attempt at a handstand, but rather, a Russian circle into his dismount. He does one complete Russian (360º) and then pushes off the side as his feet travel over the horse. This is a dismount! (It's the gymnastics equivalent of riding a mechanical bull: the gymnast spins 'round and 'round and then throws himself off the side onto the mat.) 

In order to determine the difficulty value of the dismount, you just have to count the number of Russians the gymnast does.
1 (360º) to 1 1/2 (540º) is a B.
2 (720º) to 2 1/2 (900º) is a C.
3 (1080º) or more is a D.
It's that simple. In the animated gif above, Nikolai Andrianov did 1 Russian before dismounting. So... that's a B dismount. BAM! You are on your way to becoming a pommel horse sensei.

Senior international elites (all those guys at major competitions) need to dismount with a D in order to fulfill their routine requirements. Bearing that in mind, do you think that Axel Elias fulfilled his dismount requirement at the 2012 Mexican Open?

He sure did! He performed a D dismount.

His execution, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. In the 2013-16 Code of Points, Russian dismounts need to hit 30º above a gymnast's shoulders. (In the past, it had to reach 45º above a gymnast's shoulders.)

3º is being generous.

Unfortunately, Axl Rose Elias does not come close to 30º, which is a deduction. Major womp womp.

Russians 301: The Final Exam

So, there you have it. The Russian dismount. It's easy to notice and easy to determine its difficulty. Simply count the number of times the gymnast spins around before he throws himself off the side. That's it.

Think you're ready for your final exam? Well, let's find out. What do you notice in the following video?

You hopefully noticed his dismount. He did 3 1/2 (1,260º) Russians into his dismount, which is a D. Did you notice something else? What's that you say? A Tong Fei at the 0:32 mark? Yes! Yes! Yes! You, my friend, are ready for Russians 401.

Print this and put it on your wall. It's better than a degree from Yale.

Unfortunately, I have bad news: Russians 401 will have to wait. It involves doing Russians on a single pommel horse, which is pretty complicated. Before we can tackle the next lesson, there are other skills we must discuss first. Like loops. So, look for a lesson on loops sometime after Thanksgiving.


  1. At World level I think I only saw this dismount maybe once or twice from Shatilov and someone else, in the past 2-3 years, while everyone else did the swing (or attempt to swing) to handstand and pirouette. Is it actually harder when it's rated the same, or is it just too different from the "usual"?

    1. If I understand you correctly, you want to know why gymnasts do not perform Russian dismounts. In part, it's because the Russian dismounts max out at a D. If you want to have a higher D score by doing, say, an E dismount, you need to do a handstand dismount.

      By the way, you'll see a fair amount of these during college meets.

    2. Yes, you understood me perfectly, and yes, I suppose that means I should start watching college meets more too, NF101 could only have so much and me having no TV, means I should totally go to Stanford and Cal when meets happen since those are the two closest to me!

      Thanks for answering :)!

  2. Tim, I'm at the Glasgow World Cup identifying Russians like a boss :)