Thu, 10 Feb 94 Volume 2 :
Commentators (2 msgs)
Info on Kerry Huston (U. of MN)
Kerry Huston's condition
smorgasbord (3 msgs)
understanding scores and starting values
Watching meets etc
This is a digest of the email@example.com mailing list.
Date: Mon, 07 Feb 94 14:49:17 -0800
> As for Dick Button. That man irks me at times. I was always of the
> opinion that he cheers his favorites and then is surprised at the
> others. He has some valid critisisms, however.
I have been watching skating for a long time. Dick Button never ceases to
irratate me. I find his coverage biases at best. He also doesn't seem
to watch the competition much. For example at Nationals, he mentioned that
Boitano opted to do a double instead of triple axel. Wrong. Actually, he
popped the triple into a single. (I know quite well what a single axel
looks like, that's what I spend most of my discretionary time working on!).
He also said that someone else, did a single toe loop. It was a double.
We check these things with the slow motion. Dick does this often.
He is obvious in his bias. I thought Boitano skated a fair but by no means
outstanding program. To listen to Button, you'd think he repeated his
olympic performance in '88. Scott Davis, who was fabulous, got a "nice
> My point, though, was that the figure skating community has made a
> deliberate effort to inform the public about the sport. While we can
> all see a double vs. a triple, they have made an effort to teach/show
> the public the difference between skills and their relative difficulty.
I don't think so, but I'm glad it's perceived that way. The only way I
can tell doubles from triples is by the speed, and I didn't get good at that
until I'd been skating for a couple of years. Can you tell the difference
between a double loop and and a double salchow? How about flip and toe
loop? I couldn't until I was doing the jumps, and I still can't always
tell flip from toe loop because they are so fast.
> In terms of gymnastics, how many non-gymnasts can recognize skills
> (besides flairs) on pommels? Or recognize the difficulty of p-bars?
> Some may appreciate the difficulty of a double turn on beam, but are
> more impressed by a standing back tuck. (One of our gymnast received
> more ovation from her standing back pike then her ff-layout,layout
I think in any sport, it is often the less difficult things that gets the
most applause. Bottom line for both skating and gymnastics (probably
diving and others as well) is that for an audience, theatrics is more
entertaining that technical.
> Because of the complexities of the rules I realize that educating
> the public is a difficult task. Maybe we can come up with suggestions
> for USA Gymnastics to use?
> Any comments?
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 94 19:58:51 EST
I can't resist joining in on a topic that has now touched on my two
favorite spectator sports.
My personal preferences in commentating are the same for skating,
gymnastics, or any other sport: The commentators should tell me what's
being done (Kathy Johnson often does a good job at this, I think; in
skating, Dick Button used to years ago, but no longer does), tell me
what the special faults or virtues of this particular performance are
("nice amplitude on those leaps," "little bobble there," "slight
turn-out on that landing [skating here, in case you didn't guess
:-)]), and, if possible, give me some perspective to put it in ("she
placed 4th in this event in the World Championships last year, but
she's added a lot of difficulty since then").
What I don't particularly need are: extraneous comments ("the beam is
only four inches wide," "she has a huge doll collection and loves
eating at MacDonald's") while the athlete is performing, "up close and
personal" pieces (except for the few that actually tell you
something!), travelogues, or obvious personal bias on the part of the
commentator (either belittling the clearly well done or talking up the
clearly poorly done--this last happens all too frequently in figure
skating, but the gymnastics commentators seem to be generally
impartial and straightforward). I'm more than willing to accept
natural and sincere enthusiasm (sometimes it's even fun, like Gordon
Maddox's exclamations during Olga Korbut's uneven bars routine at the
1972 Olympics); I just don't like listening to commentators grinding
their own axes at the expense of the competitors. To paraphrase what
many of us were taught as children: Commentators, if you can't say
something helpful, better not to say anything at all.
Extra bonuses for me as a viewer are informational pieces like those
mentioned by another poster earlier (Kathy Johnson on the changes
since her day in what women do on bars, for example), especially those
that tell you something about the history of the sport or educate you
on recognizing moves (Scott Hamilton did a very nice bit on
recognizing the various skating jumps for the World Championships
several years ago [1989, approximately]--just in time, since jumps
often aren't even identified by the skating commentators anymore!).
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 94 23:02:34 CST
Subject: Info on Kerry Huston (U. of MN)
Here's a little info about Kerry Huston's condition after his p-bars
crash on Saturday. This is from this evening's TV news in Minneapolis:
Kerry Huston suffered a neck flexion injury on his p-bars dismount at
the U.S. Winter Cup Challenge on Saturday. The fifth and sixth
cervical (neck) vertebrae were dislocated. He is reported to be in
fair condition. Kerry has some degree of feeling throughout his body,
including his extremities, but not 100%. He has some motor function in
his lower left leg and a small amount of function in his upper right
leg. Kerry will have surgery on Tuesday to remove the disk which is
protruding between the dislocated vertebrae and fuse them together.
Fred Roethlisberger, the U. of MN men's gymnastics coach, said that
Kerry thought there might have been a bit of weakness in one of his
hands which he had broken in December.
Sorry, I didn't catch the name of the hospital in CO Springs.
I hope the surgical team is as skilled and/or lucky as the South
African folks who performed their miracle on Sylvia Mitova.
Date: Tue, 08 Feb 94 01:44:29 EST
Subject: Kerry Huston's condition
Here's another update. United Press International reported that Huston
is now listed as being in fair condition at Colorado Hospital.
Get well messages for Kerry Huston may be sent to:
c/o Men's Gymnastics
University Of Minnesota - Athletics
220 Cooke Hall
Minneapolis MN 55455
Date: Tue, 08 Feb 94 16:35:38 EST
More thoughts on the discussion of men's FX. I agree with Jeannette on
gymnastics being a combination of art and athleticism. Power tumbling
exists for those who just want to tumble, and you can do a lot more
with their runways than you can do on a FX mat. I think connecting the
moves in routines better is a must, but I don't know that I'd make
dance and music mandatory, but I'd make it an option. It gets weird,
though, because to make something a live option in gymnastics, you
have to give credit for it (few are going to go ahead and do something
for nothing, and should those who go ahead and try music/dance not be
rewarded if they are more original and artistic?). When you start
giving credit, though, you are creating an incentive to do it, so it's
more than just a neutral option. I wonder whether it's possible to
accept the traditional routines and the non-traditional equally,
whether you can encourage one without discouraging the other. It
really comes down to a fundamental question of what an ideal routine
should look like, and whether very different looks can fulfill the
ideal. Did this make sense to anyone?
On Andy's report on Winter Nationals: Congratulations on your first
live meet! On the unpredictable scoring: I'm not sure how the men's
Code works -- whether it's much like the women's -- but I can say that
in women's, scores may be pretty unpredictable for many people because
of what goes into calculating the routine's start value. A set that
looks pretty good might actually start several tenths lower than
another. Last summer I got a lot of grief over a FX score and where it
was relative to another, but what many people didn't realize was that
one of the routines started *six tenths* lower than the other. At
USA's, Tim Daggett was apoplectic over Larissa Fontaine's bars score
in finals, but the fact was that despite her three releases in a row,
which are great, she didn't start at a 10.0 for Competition III and
the others did. The same sort of thing might happen with the men.
> (other gymnasts who did Gaylord IIs barely made
I'm sort of surprised to hear that a number of Gaylord II's were done,
since they're so risky. Were Gaylord I's done as well?
>The best meet format I think I've seen was during the 1989 World
Trials: they >had one girl vault, then one do uneven bars while the
vault judges were >scoring, then the next girl would vault while the
uneven bars judges were >scoring, and so forth.
Problem: what if a gymnast makes finals on both V and UB? Joint
men's/women's finals alternating man/woman are done, but they're still
>Because of the complexities of the rules I realize that educating
>the public is a difficult task. Maybe we can come up with suggestions
>for USA Gymnastics to use?
I second Helena's comments. I wouldn't know where to start explaining,
especially the short time commentators have. I try to explain how
somebody's start value is calculated to my mother, who has seen tons
of gymnastics, and she just looks at me like I'm a recent immigrant
from Mars. She says it's just too complicated, and you know what?
On Cara's comments:
First, thanks for your comment on my comments. : ) I think some
experimentation with meet format would be cool. I've always wanted to
see a real *international* mixed pairs -- that is, each pair made up
of gymnasts from different countries. I've also thought that the
Goodwill Games, considering their name/supposed purpose (a purpose of
all international sports, so they say), or the World Cup, considering
what a non-event it's become (is it just me?), might try international
teams, maybe made up by continent or region, or however. I've also
thought the budding pro tour might be a place to experiment with this
and with ideas for a different Code.
Although most people (including me) think the USSR probably would have
won the '84 Olympics, it wasn't completely a foregone conclusion --
remember it was the *Chinese* who were the current World Champions,
and the US beat them.
Tim Daggett's leg snapping was heard throughout the entire arena. I
was there, pretty close to where it happened, and it is to this day
the most horrific sound I have ever heard. It still makes me feel ill
to remember it.
I agree that Bela had everything to do with the popularization of US
women's gymnastics. As far as the quality of men's, I get the
impression that the collegiate system isn't the best thing. I suppose
the '84 team all did go to college, but I can't help but wonder
whether the long season of competition every weekend doesn't wear the
guys out before the international scene even really gets underway. And
they never really get down time. And there's something wrong when a
gymnast has to skip World Championships because he has to go to
NCAA's. And when Championships was in June, the Stanford guys at least
had to take their finals with them. Is this conducive to optimum
performance in either the meet or the exam?
>I'm more than willing to accept natural and sincere enthusiasm
>(sometimes it's even fun, like Gordon Maddox's exclamations
during Olga Korbut's uneven bars routine at the 1972
I don't have a problem with enthusiasm in theory, but I find that Maddox's
comments and exclamations were pretty paternalistic and altogether too amazed
that a girl could do anything impressive. I second the other comments.
Well, I guess that's all for now. : )
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 94 17:20:57 PST
Once again Gimnista hits the mark right on ! (I think I will have to
adopt her as my sister I have never seen!)
I dont think you want to pair up guys & girls in finals. SInce they
guys have 6 event and the girls have 4, the girls are goping to get
stuck with hanging around longer than they may wish to. My guess is
that they want to get their routine in, be scored, grab their award
and go crash! Hanging out while waiting for the guys to finish is a
sure way to irritate already exhausted athletes.
Power tumbling on a runway like vault ? Hmmm... Since it takes me a
long time to get going, Id love it, but wouldnt we be over
complicating things with 2 floor events ? I would expect a lot of
complaining & foot dragging. I know womens FX has changed alot. How
much has mens FX changed ?
Tim Dagget is coaching womens gymn ? Last I heard he was only doing
boys. Im surprised.
Tim's leg injury, I didnt hear it as I was not there, but the
description I hear from those who WERE there, well it chills me to the
bone. I read some of the research papers on the data derived from the
heroic measures used to spped his bone healing. The advances in
medical research based on Tim's injury will have great ramifications
for the future.
Yea the Chinese & sometimes Japanese give us a GOOD run in gymn
(guys). The chinese have a statistical advantage due to their sheer
population. With that many people, statistically they are more likley
to find a "natural". With the central control of the govt, they can
make sure that their athletes have the best training that money can
buy. Sadly, the russians will STILL kick our butts, do to that magical
"Russian Technique". But Japan & China will always be there to keep us
on our toes ! (Just like my ballet teacher, she was Russian. Her name
was Anya Toze)
I didnt mean to give Bella credit for bringing womens gymn to the
American forefront. I meant to give him the credit for keeping it in
the news after Mary Lou got it in the forefront. Just Bella being
Bella, a wild and crazy guy. Hes wild and the press loves stuff like
Having to take your final exams at the championships sux. Something
HAS to be done about that NOW ! I didnt quite follow but it looked
like it said the guys NEVER get a break from their schedule ? Did I
get that point right ?
Someone please post what comprises a Gaylord1 & a gaylord2. I have
seen some dismounts that looked like: back swing, shoot legs between
your arms, legs over the bar, the rest of you follows, you bounce your
butt off the top of the bar and land on your feet. Someone called this
I loved Julius tale of using music. I could have predicted the
results. Why IS it that women get tunes and the guys dont ? Was there
ever a reason stated ? Or is it the traditional "macho" factor ?
I also notice that rythmic gymn has been spun off from womens gymn.
Anyone care to share the history on that one ? The sport suddenly
popped up as a sideline to womens gymn and then WHAM ! It got taken a
LONG ways away from gymn. What happened ?
On wierd guys scoring; Heck I dont understand guys scoring and Im one
a da' guys (Last I knew at least, lemmie check.... OK everythings
still there so I guess I still am)
Robin's point about posting the starting score AND the ending score is
a good one. Easy to implement physically. I am not optimistic about
pushing the idea throu the beurocracy though. Remember the horse that
was designed by beurocrats? Its called a camel !
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 94 01:37:42 EST
Didn't know that Fontaine's bars didn't start from a 10.0. Can you
tell us what requirement she was missing?
I remember at Classic, Campi did a standing back full and also a
flip-flop layout to immediate half turn (pivoting on feet, like
Christy Henrich did in 1989), and other various difficulty, but her
set was still not a 10. We were amazed...
>>The best meet format I think I've seen was during the 1989 World Trials:
>>had one girl vault, then one do uneven bars while the vault judges were
>>scoring, then the next girl would vault while the uneven bars judges were
>>scoring, and so forth.
>Problem: what if a gymnast makes finals on both V and UB?
True, good point. The format described above was referring to
all-around competition. Hadn't considered the transition to event
Re the conflict between men's NCAA's and international competition --
it's certainly true. I wish that it could be resolved. I still want
the men's NCAA program to survive however. Twenty-five of the last
twenty-eight male Olympians have been collegiate gymnasts. I think
we'll lose a lot of athletes if/when it's cut. Right now a high school
senior has a chance to continue training in gymnastics, have his
education at least partly paid for, and be in an environment that
supports both academic and athletic pursuits. If the program is cut, a
high school senior will have two options: train at a USA Gymnastics
Training Center (right now I believe the USOTC is the only one) or
attend college and attend a private club. The limits of the first one
are that, simply, USA Gymnastics cannot provide nearly the number of
spots that the NCAA system provides. There's about 400+ guys in Div. I
gymnastics across the US. How many guys can train at the USOTC and
various other regional training centers that have yet to be assembled?
Certainly not nearly that many. The problems with the second one: how
many people can afford both college and gymnastics lessons (hopefully
academic or need scholarships will help fill the gap)? Also, perhaps
more importantly, how many can manage the demands of college academics
and gymnastics at an elite level at the same time? The circumstances
of attending separate academic and gymnastics schools would result in
mediocre performances for both, I would think. So that leaves us with
the first option, USA Gymnastics regional training centers. But as
stated, how many gymnasts will that support? If the opportunities for
gymnasts beyond 18 years old declines, so will the number of gymnasts
younger than 18, because if they get burned out or injured, they have
no reason to stay in the sport (college scholarship).
Now, perhaps the regional training centers will develop better
gymnasts than we have now, since they'll be taking the cream of the
crop, which you figure won't be affected by the NCAA dropping their
program. However, usually, declining numbers in sports don't mean
better elite performance.
There are so many variables here... I guess we just have to wait and
Date: Tue, 08 Feb 94 17:41:29 EST
Subject: understanding scores and starting values
>On the unpredictable scoring: I'm not sure how the men's Code works --
>whether it's much like the women's -- but I can say that in women's, scores
>may be pretty unpredictable for many people because of what goes into
>calculating the routine's start value. A set that looks pretty good might
>actually start several tenths lower than another. Last summer I got a lot of
>grief over a FX score and where it was relative to another, but what many
>people didn't realize was that one of the routines started *six tenths* lower
>than the other. At USA's, Tim Daggett was apoplectic over Larissa Fontaine's
>bars score in finals, but the fact was that despite her three releases in a
>row, which are great, she didn't start at a 10.0 for Competition III and the
>others did. The same sort of thing might happen with the men. Anyone k>now?
>>Because of the complexities of the rules I realize that educating
>>the public is a difficult task. Maybe we can come up with suggestions
>>for USA Gymnastics to use?
>I second Helena's comments. I wouldn't know where to start explaining,
>especially the short time commentators have. I try to explain how somebody's
>start value is calculated to my mother, who has seen tons of gymnastics, and
>she just looks at me like >I'm a recent immigrant from Mars. She says it's
>just too complicated, and you know what? She's right.
I think one thing that would really help would be to post the starting
value alongside the score for each routine. That helps viewers have an
instant sense of "oh, that routine was harder than the previous one"
and helps you compare how much each routine had deducted, which is the
kind of stuff most viewers notice. I often wonder if a lower score was
because of a lower starting value or because of deductions I missed.
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 94 19:09:21 PST
Subject: Watching meets etc
Andy raised an interesting point. When watching gymn on the tube, its
easy because they focus on only one athlete. Now in person (blood
curdling shriek) its quite another matter. Andy and the rest of you
who havent "done it live" its usually a 3 ring circus.
Most of the college meets here in the SF Bay Area, have only 2 events
simultaneaously. (2 team meet) Forget trying to see ALL of EVERYONES
routine AND the scores. You just dont have enough eyes. You have to
pick and choose who you want to see and kiss the rest off. Here we
usually start on team on floor and one on Pommel Horse. Then they
switch. Then they rotate. Next is usually rings and vault, then they
trade. Last rotation is h-bar & p bars. So I sit where I can see the
FX for the first 2 rotations. Next I move to where I can see the
rings. I like to sit where I can face thenm straight on when tyhey are
inverted. You can almost feel what they feel when you sit like that.
Last 2 rotation I like to sit where I can look right down the long way
of the h-bar. This is the usual formula for a 2 team meet. I have seen
up to 3 team meets with this formula. After 4 teams it becomes so
confusing its near impossible to see alot. The arrangement @ SJSU
Stanford & Berkeley is pretty easy to do this with. Well actually
Berkeley I cant alway sit in those places, but I usually can.
The hardest part is around here they get these little kids to show the
scores and they flip up the numbers, you blink and they are gone ! Wow
can those kids flip fast....
And everyone is talking about Chainey Umphries. What ever happened to
his brother ? I think they may be twins. They used to compete
End of gymn Digest