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Epke Zonderland or Zhang Chenglong…Who was the True Winner?

Men’s High Bar Final Controversy

Now that the dust has settled in Rotterdam and we all have a relatively fresh perspective, I thought we’d take a look back at some of the moments that raised a few eyebrows and even drew some outrage from many fans.  The first will be the men’s high bar final, in which China’s Zhang Chenglong, as the final competitor, stole the gold medal from home crowd favorite Dutchman Epke Zonderland, who went up first and delivered the performance of his life.

Epke Zonderland vs. Zhang Chenglong 2010 Worlds High Bar Final

First, let’s break down these two routines:

Epke Zonderland

Skill Value Difficulty Points Connection Points Andy’s Deductions
Endo full turn to mix grip C 0.3 0.3
Kovacs + D 0.4 0.2
Kolman F 0.6 0.3
Stalder Rybalko E 0.5 0.3
Takamoto half + D 0.4 0.1
**Tucked Gaylord 2** D 0.4 0.2
Takamoto full + D 0.4 0.3
Yamawaki D 0.4 0.2 0.3
Quast C 0.3
Double layout 2/1 E 0.5
Totals 4.2 0.6
Difficulty Score 7.3
Andy’s Execution Score 8.4
Andy’s Final Score 15.7

**There’s some controversy over the value of the tucked Gaylord 2, as there was an official FIG document put out in 2008 stating the tucked Gaylord 2 is an E.  The judges in Rotterdam gave it a D, as the actual code of points still doesn’t specifically list the tucked version.

Zhang Chenglong

Skill Value Difficulty Points Connection Points Andy’s Deductions
Laid-out Tcatchev + D 0.4 0.1
Rybalko D 0.4 0.2 0.3
Takamoto half + D 0.4
Tcatchev half turn D 0.4 0.2
Endo full turn to elgrip + D 0.4
**“Laid out” Yaeger** D 0.4 0.2 0.5
Endo Pirouette Not needed for difficulty 0.1
Stalder Rybalko to elgrip E 0.5 0.3
Takamoto full + D 0.4
Yamawaki D 0.4 0.2 0.3
Double layout with 2/1 E 0.5 0.3
Totals 4.2 0.8
Difficulty Score 7.5
Andy’s Execution Score 8.1
Andy’s Final Score 15.6

**This “laid-out” Yaeger really shouldn’t credit for a laid-out position, as he had a full 90-degree pike midway through the skill.  I gave him credit since the judges gave him credit, but took a large 0.5 deduction for the huge pike.  Had they given him a piked Yaeger, he would have lost 0.3 total in difficulty: 0.1 for the skill itself (D à C) and 0.2 for no connection (release must be a D or higher to receive connection to an “on-the-bar” D like the endo full to elgrip).

Special Notes

Note that the points from skill values are actually identical for both Chenglong and Zonderland (4.2), although Chenglong had an OVERrated skill with the laid out Yaeger, while Zonderland possibly had an UNDERrated skill with the Gaylord 2.

The difference in start value came from the connection points, with Chenglong receiving 0.8 and Zonderland receiving 0.6.  Again, Chenglong’s endo full to Yaeger should not have received connection because the Yaeger was piked.  Amazingly, Zonderland’s stunning release sequence of Kovacs+Kolman receives the SAME connection points (0.2) as each of Chenglong’s far less thrilling sequences.  This is clearly a flaw in the code of points, as two difficult releases in a row should receive much more reward than an on-the-bar skill plus a release

Deductions in the code for all “turning” skills are now as follows:

  • 0-30 degrees from handstand: No deduction
  • 31-45 degrees from handstand: 0.1 deduction
  • 45-90 degrees from handstand: 0.3 deduction
  • >90 degrees from handstand: 0.5 deduction

I looked at the gymnast’s shoulders and hips upon regrasp to determine the angle deductions for these skills.  My 0.3 deductions here are mostly for regrasping with shoulders below 45 degrees.


Epke Zonderland should have won.  Not only was his routine much more spectacular than Chenglong’s, but it had arguably fewer execution deductions, as Chenglong had an abundance of angle deductions, several piked elements, and a step on his dismount.

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  1. Will E November 1, 2010 at 8:56 am - Reply

    Glad to see that Zonderland has finally cleaned up his act. Always liked his big skills and aggression, but his form always brought him down a few pegs.

  2. Ono No Komachi November 1, 2010 at 11:13 am - Reply

    Zhang won my heart with his gutty performance in front of a screaming arena who already awarded the gold to another guy who put up a spectacular performance.

    I saw it. Zhang isn’t just lucky. He’s good.

    We havn’t seen the last of Zhang Chenglong. He’s cleaned up a LOT since Chinese nationals, so in the future he will probably improve enough to put these discussions to rest.


  3. PolyisTCOandbanned November 2, 2010 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    If a Pegan gets an E, so should a Gaylord 2. Tucked or piked is irrelevant. (I would not give the piked version an F.)

    I think all piro to release connection CV should be eliminated and only release-release CV credited ((I would give bonuse for releases from one arm or eagle grip.) If not that, then limit CV to no more than a tenth for piro crap.

    Zonderland was stunning with the Gaylord (an undervalued and underperformed skill) and of course the connected Kovacs’s. That said, he is a little wild and loose in the legs. And he should lose 0.1 for that hairdo. So should Uchimura.

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