On the 10th Day of Christmas, Gym Santa Gave To Me…


10 New Compulsory Routines


That’s six routines for the men and four for the women.  There’s a reason why competitions have had such a different feel since 1996 – that was the final year of elite “compulsory routines,” which seem to speak higher volumes in their absence than they did while in existence.  Considered to be somewhat monotonous by many fans at the time, compulsories are perhaps much better understood and appreciated now that they’re gone, as the current state of the sport suggests that compulsories did much to emphasize basics, style, body line, and precise attention to detail – the exact components many of us feel are missing in gymnastics today.  Perhaps “modified” compulsories would be the best solution, which could require a few specific elements but allow the gymnasts to incorporate their own individuality by designing their own routine structure around these elements, including their own chosen order of skills, their own additional transitional and in-between skills (perhaps only A through C allowed), and on the women’s side, their own music on floor and choreography on beam and floor.  As in the old days, I’d like to see these more basic routines used as the “qualifications” for world and Olympic competition, with optionals alone being used for all of the finals.  For this Christmas, I long for a return of some form of compulsory routines, in which the sport is broken down into its simplest and purest form, and in which precision and minute details make all the difference.




On the 11th Day of Christmas, Gym Santa Gave To Me…


“1-1” Dual Meets, USA vs. RUS!


My Christmas wish list is filled with trips down memory lane – back to the 1980’s and early 1990’s, which are considered by many to be the “golden years” of gymnastics.  One huge part of that era was the beloved USA vs USSR dual competitions, which were held annually until 1991 when the USSR split up into various republics.  Over the decade that followed, the USA did participate in some dual and tri-meets against formidable teams like Ukraine, Belarus, and China, and in a five-year run of the “International Team Championships,” typically a tri-meet between the USA, Romania, and China, from 1997 to 2001.  But since then, high profile duel competitions have become nearly extinct for the Americans, particularly on U.S. soil.  Now would be a perfect time to reinstitute annual USA vs. Russia team battles on both the men’s and women’s sides, as these two evenly matched teams are ranked 3 and 4 in the world for the men and 1 and 2 in the world for the women.  These competitions were so enjoyed by fans not only for the bragging rights and good old fashioned rivalry… but for the fact that the high stakes and incredibly talented participants on both sides often provided some of the most memorable moments in gymnastics.  For this Christmas, I’m asking for a coed 2012 USA vs Russia battle, and if I may be so bold, for it to become an annual tradition again.  Who wouldn’t love to see an intriguing pre-London matchup between the Russian women – complete with Mustafina, Komova, and soon-to-be-seniors Grishina and Sidorova  – and the American women – including Wieber, Bross, Raisman, and perhaps Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin?  And what great experience it would bring to the American men to battle fellow Olympic medal contenders as they fine-tune their lineup and their skills in preparation for London. It almost sounds too good to be true!




On the 12th Day of Christmas, Gym Santa Gave To Me…


A Minimum Age Of 12!


Perhaps I’m being a bit facetious, but the truth is I think the age requirement should be abandoned altogether – in combination with several additional changes to the sport which are mentioned throughout this wish list. I’m tired of feeling like competition results need to be highlighted with asterisks because the best gymnasts aren’t actually there.  It’s one thing to not have all the best gymnasts at a random national or international meet, but to have so many “fill-ins” at the world championships and Olympics because the most qualified participants are deemed “too young” to compete defeats the entire purpose of these competitions.  The international field of senior women’s competitors has already diminished to smaller numbers than we’ve ever seen – likely due to the striking mismatch between the current physical demands of the sport and the age boundaries within which they’re demanded – yet we continue to restrict this rapidly dwindling number with rules that are destructive to the sport, ostracizing to fans, and which simply defy common sense in light of the current state of the sport.  For this Christmas, I’m asking that we combine ALL elite female gymnasts into one, unified, age-eligible field of competitors, so we can have better and bigger competitions, happier fans, and the appropriate gymnasts on the tops of podiums.  And we could stop putting sticky notes onto competition results saying who the real winners should have been.




Merry Christmas everyone, from Andy’s Angle!