Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Call me when you land

One thing i miss terribly from gymnastics days gone by: the super stuck landings. And i don’t think I am alone.

For me, that absolute smash and stick was the total cherry on the cake to set the tone of the judging to a great start. I used to (and still do when watching repeats) get massively wound up when commentators missed the point of a good landing, and (somewhat repetitively) I must call upon good old NBC for my example here. I remember one Olympics Al saying something along the lines of “I always think it is a shame that the majority of the score doesn’t come from what’s going on in the air”.

 Didn’t it?

In fairness to Al, I don’t think he is the only person to think this way. My problem with this interpretation is its blatant inaccuracy. The majority of the score DID and DOES come from what is going on in the air. With the ten system, people seemed to subconsciously consider the first 6 or 7 points in the score as an unmoveable, ever present rock bearing no resemblance to the routine. A landing only takes off a few tenths: it was never the majority of the score. To be perfectly honest I wouldn’t mind seeing landing deductions that were that bit harsher.


Whether you agree with landing deductions (past or present) or disagree with them, one fact seems undeniable: the landing is far less of a focus than it once was. As recently as 2004 it seemed like the landing was super important. Nowadays it is still a deductable factor, but cannot compete with the D score in terms of scoreboard impact. Sadly, the FIG decided to impose extra landing deductions this quad on the only apparatus where sticking is not a priority.

With the new code looming I am hoping for a greater focus on landing deductions amongst a million other things. While thinking about this I pondered the different types of landings we have seen over the years, and how they often fall into distinct categories. Here are just a few.

The easy, breezy, beautiful: cover girl landing

Spectators and judges alike know a bad landing when they see one. Be it short, deep, overrotated or under: we have seen enough to know one instantly. But it never stopped people from trying their best to cover up. I kind of enjoy that kind of theatrical side to the sport, and whilst these are by no means my favourite endings to a routine they are fun nonetheless.


The stealthy landing

These are those great finales that look delicate enough to shatter like glass. Landings like this appear to defy the laws of physics: how is it possible to harness all that power yet making the force of landing look like a marshmallow being dropped on a bouncy castle?


The knife in the table landing

Perfect form, perfect landing, perfect body position. These are the real top shelfers in terms of power and execution, and to me epitomize what gymnastics can be and SHOULD be all about. I would rather see a full twisting Yurchenko landed this way than a DTY with a hunchback and a step.


The “bend and snap” landing

If you can’t do a double pike: don’t do a double pike


As usual I would love to hear your thoughts. YOUR favourite landings?


  1. Great article! I loved the 2004 Olympic Romanian team on bars..it may have been their weakest event but they nailed all three landings. Also, Prudonva in the 2000 beam finals and with a broken foot..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeWI1KzrhB4 :)

  2. I think McKayla Maroney's landings are pretty amazing!

  3. Thisyearsgirl: good shout. I hadn't thought about those performances for years (had to go and rewatch them on youtube just now haha) but yes you are right, great landings. Made me think there should be another category: poorly performed skills that are landed really well haha.

    That landing from Produnova was insane, and totally got her a medal. I loved that dismount. Always made me feel VERY sorry for her feet though, that absolute slam into the mat.

    Saozinha: I totally agree. I would have put her in the Pavlova category but I feel I have written about her loads recently so thought I should put someone else in there!

    Other landings I really like:

    Yang Yilin bars EF 08
    Carly Patterson beam AA 04 (I know its totally cowboyed but still, noone has done that dismount better)
    Shawn Johnson bars AA 08

  4. Talking about landings of the first cathegory:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw_3XoUaofA. I absolutely love the power vs. control.
    And Lylia, she was amazing...

    PS: Patterson really ruled that landing. She was absolutely gourgeous on beam.

  5. Chellsie Memmel absolutely nailed her floor landings during the Day 2 of the 2008 Olympic Trials, her double pike was stuck dead. Hannah Whelan's vault in the AA final at Worlds was one of her best.

  6. I LOVE that moment when she ends the trials with a smashed double pike. There was so much energy that moment, and then the standing ovation....hard to watch though with the hindsight that she never got to compete it at the games :(

    I wrote an article a while ago on it for my favourite routines series: http://theepanel.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/favourite-routines-chellsie-memmel-on.html

    And yeah credit where credit is due, Patterson was a bloody good beamer. Her gymnastics as a whole didn't really do much for me but beam was exciting to watch: she was like a cat.