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Stretching Out: Resolutions for the Gymnastics World
(41 votes, average 2.85 out of 5)

With the 2011 season still several weeks away, there is plenty of time to make a few New Year's resolutions. So I humbly offer the following list for the world of gymnastics.

Aliya Mustafina/RUS: I don't mean to be picky, and it may feel uncomfortable at first, but you will endear yourself to even more fans if you smile more often. I realize how stressful it can be to carry an entire team on your back, but that pressure should subside this year.

Kohei Uchimura/JPN: The sport has rarely seen someone of your technical brilliance and attention to detail. When I look through countless photos of you for stories in IG, I simply never see your toes unpointed or legs apart. Everything is always impossibly perfect … from the neck down, that is. Kohei, please get a haircut. If you become the first male gymnast to win a third world all-around title this year, people will want to see your whole face.

FIG Women's Technical Committee: Find a way to give Execution scores in the mid- to high-9s again. There has to be a way for technique and artistry to battle effectively against tricks and acrobatics. But right now, it's not a fair fight.

FIG Men's Technical Committee: Less is more. If you insist on retaining a 10-skill D-score, then impose a limit of 15 skills to achieve that quota. And if 15 skills are not enough to accommodate 10 value elements, then drop to eight like the women did. After all, there is only so much chalk in the world.

FIG Executive Committee: Abolish the age limit. It has caused more negative P.R. this year than the sport can handle. Plus, we gymnastics journalists want to write tired phrases like "the team was an interesting mix of youth and experience" again.

People's Republic of Korea: Where to start? If you fudge the birth date of a gymnast, make sure she doesn't have a twin sister on the national team. Because of your oversight with Hong Su Jong's birth year(s), fans will not be able to see your other incredible gymnasts, such as male vaulter Ri Se Gwang, at the next worlds and Olympics.

Excessive Celebrators: It's a penalty in college football, and I hope judges are deducting for it in gymnastics. I don't care how well you think you performed, your routine is not officially complete until you stand erect with arms up. Respect for the sport dictates that you should then turn toward the judges and present yourself. Then, if you feel the need to applaud your own routine, knock yourself out (but only if you just did something special).

Impatient Gymnasts: Similar to the entry above, your dismount or vault landing is not complete until you stand up straight with heels together (focus forward), regardless of how many steps were necessary to achieve this position. It is a deduction to land in a squat and then quickly pivot toward the judges. It's cute when a Level 4 does it, but for an elite? Absolutely unforgivable!

Men's NCAA Gymnastics: Do whatever it takes to make every dual meet meaningful, especially the ones between David and Goliath. If that means adopting a radical new scoring system, DO IT, before it's too late.

Women's NCAA Gymnastics: Now that the overall performance level is higher than 10 years ago, start rewarding for a little extra difficulty.

Jonathan Horton/USA: Spend as much time swinging pommel horse as you do playing video games. OK, maybe not that much, but after an unbelievable turnaround from 2009 to 2010, you're one routine away from a shinier all-around medal (although a world bronze is not too shabby).

Nikolai Kuksenkov/UKR: Train harder, complain less. If you think you should have beaten Jonathan Horton at the 2010 worlds, then prove it the next time you face him. It's not as if Horton had the home advantage in Rotterdam.

Octavian Bellu/ROU: Find a new strategy for your team on uneven bars, and practice it all day, every day, until you get some results. If the Russians can teach all their gymnasts a Maloney with a half turn, so can you.

Danell Leyva, Yin Alvarez/USA: Keep doing what you're doing. I'll take a coach who hugs over one that scolds any day. Yin, I realize people think your sideline contortions are a distraction, but they are unique and entertaining. And anything that enlivens the crowd at a men's gymnastics meet is a good thing.

Paul Hamm/USA: Health. And maybe forgo that stutz to one rail on parallel bars for this comeback.

Now, who did I miss?

Comments (26)add comment

Nico said:

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Aliya's smile?
Of all the things about Mustafina to pick on, you complain about her lack of smiling? Really, that should be the least of her worries considering the poor execution of many of her skills. Her twisting form should've been the first thing to pick on!
 
January 07, 2011
Votes: +1

Dwight said:

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I said I didn't mean to be picky, didn't I?
 
January 07, 2011
Votes: -1

Fraser said:

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Lol, Alicia won on vault even though she was an "impatient gymnast", i didnt know if they got a deduction for that or not, now i know. Thanks.smilies/grin.gif
 
January 07, 2011
Votes: -2

Dwight said:

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Alicia was someone I thought of when writing that. Her vaults are incredible, but she rarely sticks them.
 
January 07, 2011
Votes: +1

Jess said:

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I think Aliya is a great athlete and she doesn't need to smile all the time to prove that. I resent the notion that because she's young and female she has to pretend to be happy all the time. Not everyone can be all happy and smiling when they compete. Competitions are very stressful
 
January 07, 2011
Votes: +15

Ruscha said:

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If you critisized the Romanian women´s team that they need to improve on bars which is true, then please don´t forget to mention that the USA women´s team really needs to improve on ballet, artistry and presentation in their floor routines if they want to keep up with the rest of the top teams in the world.
















 
January 07, 2011
Votes: +15

jollybarb said:

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Hmmm. Nastia didn't smile much-she was described as having a 'game face'. Gymnastics is a sport that requires a lot of concentration, hence the last thing on a gymnast's mind should be 'smiling'. Just because a gymnast doesn't smile, doesn't mean they are not happy. Smiling is not the only outward expression of happiness...there is other body language that smiles to me!!
 
January 07, 2011
Votes: +12

Gregory said:

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I disagree...
I don't think we should get rid of the age limit. The last time 14 year olds were on the teams, 19 was considered ancient. The rule should continue to enforced as is. Who cares that Aliya doesn't smile. I love Kohei's hair. You want grinning athletes with boring haircuts, you have thousands to look at. And excessive celebrator's? Really? You are right about the Women's Technical Committee and execution scores though.
 
January 07, 2011
Votes: +9

Melissa said:

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I definitely agree to abolishing the age limit! I think that you cant be a 'true' world or olympic champion if you are not competing against the BEST in the world - regardless of age! If you are capable you should be able to compete!!!! smilies/smiley.gif
 
January 07, 2011
Votes: +0

Rawles said:

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How about as a new year's resolution, you, author, try being less wildly sexist.

You don't get to police Aliya Mustafina or anyone else's smiles or attitude. If she doesn't want to smile, she doesn't have to. Just because she's a teenaged girl doesn't mean that she is beholden to express herself in a way that you deem appropriate. Not when she's in the middle of a stressful elite sporting competition and not if she's just walking down the street. Not ever.
 
January 07, 2011
Votes: +14

Brian said:

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You forgot to add Chris Brooks and his non existent toe point. Beautiful gymnastics, most of the time, but an eye sore on even the easiest of elements because he doesn't even seem to care about his toes.

Legendre: Become a competitor already and not just a team member.
 
January 07, 2011
Votes: +3

Catherine Wallace said:

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Kohei's hair is kakoii! (cool)
I'm so happy that Kohei's hair was the only thing you could find any fault with. Personally, I hope he keeps it - obviously works for him and I think it looks pretty hot.
 
January 08, 2011
Votes: +11

Dee said:

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Aliya's job is to do amazing gymnastics, not to smile. I'm sick of critics ragging on gymnasts for not being all smiley-cutesy in the middle of major competitions. Aliya is a fantastic gymnast and there's no reason for her to worry about putting on a smile to fit some idiotic image of the perfect female gymnast when she needs to focus. Funny how no one ever complains about male gymnasts not smiling. Also, since when is critiquing a gymnast's haircut an acceptable topic for a sportswriter? Uchimura is the best male gymnast in the world, he can wear his hair however he likes - it makes no difference to his gymnastics.
 
January 08, 2011
Votes: +13

Tim said:

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Pick on Russians, complement Americans!, cold war is back! Go have a life.
 
January 08, 2011
Votes: +7

Queen Elizabeth said:

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Aliya's smile
This is a feminist issue. You don't generally see journalists suggesting that male sportsmen should smile more.

I defend Dwight's right to present light hearted material on this site, and he is not the only one to comment on such matters. We need to recognise this for what it is - in the context of expectations of female behaviour - a reflection of societal expectations of female behaviour that are perhaps not always fair or realistic.
 
January 08, 2011 | url
Votes: +6

Jojo said:

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Saying Mustafina should smile more just promotes the notion that women's gymnastics is nothing but a beauty pageant; what's next? Kiss and cry?
As Nico said, there's plenty of things to be picky about that relate to Mustafina's actual gymnastics.
 
January 08, 2011
Votes: +8
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Queen Elizabeth said:

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Aliya's smile
And women have no acceptable personality without a 'lovely' smile?
 
January 08, 2011 | url
Votes: +11

JuliaK said:

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I don't understand how you can complain about excessive celebrations in one point, and then praise Yin Alvarez a few points later? If he did this act when Danell nailed a routine to win a meet it would be entertaining, but he does it for every single routine!!! It's no longer entertaining, it's just weird.
 
January 08, 2011
Votes: +4

becca said:

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But I find Aliya very entertaining. I'd like to point out that there are cultural differences here and not every cultural is as smiley as Americans are. In fact some cultures find us actually quite fake. Aliya's tough as nails, I'm here to beat you down demeanor is quite fun and entertaining for me. Mustafina is many things and does have her issues but I never thought one of her issues was that she wasn't entertaining. The sport would be boring if everyone acted the same way. Its not like she's robotic.
 
January 08, 2011
Votes: +13

Dwight said:

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I appreciate all of your feedback. Yin Alvarez celebrating his gymnasts' routines is different from gymnasts celebrating their own routines without acknowledging the judges afterward. Remember, you're supposed to hit your routine.
 
January 08, 2011
Votes: -4

Leesa said:

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Interesting list...
But do not suggest abolishing the age limit, unless you are advocating the transformation of elite women's gymnastics into a strictly child's sport. Were the age limit to be abolished - even in light of all the cheating surrounding it - then we'd find ourselves back in the late 80's and early 90's, with young women starving themselves in order to remain prepubescent so that they may compete with the younger girls. Little torpedoes capable of greater difficulty do win titles: just look at China at the 2008 Olympics. But is that what we really want? Personally, I find the performances of physically strong, mature women such as A-Sac and Beth Tweddle and Ariella Kaeslin and Sandra Izbasa to be far more inspiring than that of under-aged circus acrobats trying to pass as 20 year olds. And, to make the debate hotter, I would suggest the age limit be raised to 18, so that our gymnasts may have the time and room to mature emotionally as well as to pace their training and take care of their bodies.
 
January 08, 2011
Votes: +5

Ono No Komachi said:

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David -

Chris Brooks cannot point his toes very well because he has had a lot of trouble with his ankles. I doubt it's because he just doesn't care.

And explain how Steven Legendre isn't a competitor but somehow managed to win the NCAA AA title once, get the AA silver once, and tie Jon Horton for the number of NCAA individual titles won. He had very bad luck on FX in Rotterdam and London. Luck can change.

I'm a lot more tolerant of Chen Yibing celebrating his rings gold after last years crushing dissapointment than I am of Yin Alvarez celebrating everytime Danell breathes.

Leave Aliya and Kohei alone about their appearance. Sports is about what people can do, not what they look like. Otherwise just give all the medals to Dragulescu and that Fabian Lehmliner or whatever his name is dude from Austria. Shirtless pics of those guys would sell a lot of mags - but that shouldn't be what it's all about.
 
January 08, 2011
Votes: +4

Adrian said:

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Interesting how you criticize excessive celebrators then go on to praise Alvarez. It's just as bad when coaches do it. I find it unprofessional for a coach to act that way on a world stage.
 
January 09, 2011
Votes: +2

Admetric said:

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15 element limit.
I agree with your point here. The PB has been 10 elements and we saw wonderful diversity of elements in the performances in Rotterdam. I don't think we need to see gymnasts do over 30 unique skills on HB. I do wish that the MTC had decided that only the first 10 elements will be analyzed and skills used for combinations are counted in the 10 elements. But then again, I don't know how Stoica plans to proceed and if he has further information to warrant allowing so many skills on HB to be performed.

Jeffsmilies/smiley.gif
 
January 10, 2011
Votes: +1

huh said:

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they are doing variations of Khorkina transition
Not a Maloney with a half turn smilies/cool.gif Khorkina transition is shaposh with half turn, it doesn't matter what you do after or before it. The reason the skill worths an E is that it is a shaposh with a half turn which is the Khorkina transitions. Correct me if I am wrong.
—Ed. A Maloney starts from a sole circle, while a Shaposhnikova and Khorkina start from clear hip circle.
 
January 13, 2011
Votes: +2

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