Very few things annoy me as much as the side somersault (for those that are interested, the other few things include excessive hugging, the smell of Britney Spears Fantasy and Tyra Banks’ dress sense). It is just horrible. I remember when I first saw one I thought something had gone horribly wrong. I thought innocently to myself, why would there ever be a coded skill that rewards an ugly takeoff, flight with flexed feet, knees a metre apart and a deep landing? I know more these days, but the question still holds. Why?
Well, as commentators over the years have been keen to point out (such as Christine Still who I believe once said the following: “always a difficult skill to spot”), it is a quite tricky move. I don’t doubt this. It takes a gymnast out of line with the beam and involves what is basically a blind landing: similar issues to a standing Arabian but made easier by less of a twist and the ability for stepout. It is D rated for a reason.
Alexandra Eremia shows us all how its done. Breathtaking.
But what on earth is the point of doing something if it looks so heinous? As is so often forgotten these days, the sport is called “artistic gymnastics”. I would love to know what is artistic about a skill that involves flipping in a position more suitable for giving birth than a beam exercise. In a similar vein to my thoughts on the handspring double front the other day, this is a skill that is by definition ugly, because even textbook execution results in something abysmal looking (a statement which holds at least for the tucked variation).
Essentially, it would make no difference to me if it were rated a G: it still has no place in an otherwise good beam routine. I hate the code for doing things like this because it almost encourages gymnasts and coaches to pay no attention to the flow of the routine in favour of shoehorning another D in there. Difficulty is one thing but something as offensive to the eyes as this skill is another thing entirely. For example, say some girl could do a triple somersault on floor in a LOVELY position like in the following video, would you want it?
I'm alright for now, thanks.
In a brief visit to a less bitter and more fair attitude, however, props to those few who manage to make it look somewhere near presentable. I am thinking mainly of Koko Tsurumi here. But there are not nearly enough like her to outweigh the onslaught of John Waynes just dying to get gun happy. I am looking at you, Nastia. Leave it out next year, yeah?
Nastia Liukin holds up the 2011 qualifications with a special announcement.