Monday, January 21, 2013

Update: The FIG has spoken. Yamawakis DO exist.

Things that DON'T exist:

A video of McKayla Maroney competing a triple-twisting Yurchenko.

A video of Epke Zonderland doing a gazillion releases.

Manti Te'o's girlfriend. (Leave it to Tony to go there.)

Things that DO exist:

An employee at USAG with a sense of humor
(Someone had to choose this horse-like thumbnail for the YouTube video.)

Gymnasts with too much time on their hands
(If this video is doctored, I'll be sad, but it won't change the fact that gymnasts have too much time on their hands.)

And Yamawakis

(Explanation and commentary after the jump.)

Around Thanksgiving, I wrote a post in which I questioned whether Yamawakis existed. Based on the drawings in the Code of Points, there appeared to be two requirements for the skill: 1. a completely stretched body; 2. a half twist completed before crossing the rail. After watching several hours of high bar routines, I decided that a handful of gymnasts fulfilled the first requirement, and pretty much no one fulfilled the second requirement.

Well, it turns out that the drawing was not as helpful as I thought because neither of those characteristics is necessary. A week ago, Coach Rick left this message in the comments section of my Yamawaki post:
At the FIG Judging course right now.

Yamawaki becomes a Voronin IF the hips are the highest point of the body. There's no requirement for stretch or timing of twist.

That's the decision of the FIG MTC member responsible for Horizontal Bar.

The mass of judges disagree.

In other words, as long as your head is above your butt, as long as your legs are together, and as long as you throw yourself over the bar and do a half turn, you will receive credit for a Yamawaki. Awesome. To give you a visual, releases that look like this

will receive the FIG's stamp of approval. It doesn't matter that the gymnast (in this case, Zou Kai) hasn't turned before crossing the rail or that he is bent over like my 85-year-old grandfather. He will still receive credit for the skill because his head is above his butt. Double awesome.

I know, Sam. I feel the same way. And what really gets my leotard in a bunch is the fact that this skill is valued as a D. In other words, in the FIG's book, an old-man Yamawaki (like the one above) is as difficult as a tucked Kovacs...

A Xiao Ruizhi...

A stretched Tkatchev...

I don't know about you, but that seems a little, shall we say, ludicrous. (It's like saying that making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is as difficult as making coq au vin or that a front layout is as difficult as a double front.)

Historically, this ludicrousness has not always been present in the Code. In the 1985 and 1989 iterations, the "Yamawaki" was not a D. In fact, at that time time, no one called it a Yamawaki. The skill, instead, went by its description, which was a "back uprise" to a "hecht vault over bar with 1/2 turn to forward swing in hang." And it was a C. A Kovacs, on the other hand, was a D, while a Gienger, a Deltchev, and a Markelov (the straddled version of a Yamawaki) were Cs.

In my mind, those distinctions make more sense. No, I am not waxing nostalgic. And no, I'm not advocating a return to the Codes of the 80s. Every Code has its shortcomings. But I do think that the FIG got something right a few decades ago. They recognized that a Yamawaki (or a "hecht vault" as it was called) was not as difficult as something like a Kovacs, and I think that it's time to return to that way of thinking, especially if we are going to use a lax definition of a Yamawaki, where pretty much anything goes as long as your legs are together and your shoulders are above your butt.

Dear FIG,

I don't agree with this capacious definition of the Yamawaki, but if we are going to use it, it's time to downgrade. Please make the release a C again (if not a B).

Uncle Tim

Related: Coach Rick's thoughts on the Rybalko (January 21, 2013 is not a good day for the High Bar Code of Points)

1 comment:

  1. That still doesn't explain what the difference between a yamawaki and a rear vault is (2.32). What Leyva does looks very much like the drawing for the skill in 2.32 (back uprise and rear vault with 1/4 t. to hang).