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Men’s High Bar Videos from Europeans!

A couple of weeks ago I posted several videos from the men’s floor final at the recent European Championships, and amidst all the other competitions going on I didn’t get to post any of the other events.  In this post we’ll look at several routines on the event that I feel has been the most poorly judged in the last two years…men’s high bar.

Don’t get me wrong, today’s high bar routines are pretty darn exciting.  The guys are consistently catching the hardest release moves ever done and are also showing a great variety of elgrip, inbar, and long-hanging skills.  The resurgence of jam skills (Takamotos) has been great, despite the overused combinations that are going to be inevitable in any code of points (Takamoto-full to Yamawaki, for example).  A couple overused combinations here and there doesn’t bother me as long as the routines still have good variety, some originality, and exciting release skills.  I believe we’re getting all of those on men’s high bar right now.

What DOES bother me is nonsensical judging.  Many of you may remember my gripes about the horrific men’s high bar judging at the 2009 worlds, and it continued at some recent international competitions like the world cup final in Paris.  And unfortunately it continued at the European Championships.  First, here’s a look at the final results of the men’s high bar final:

European Championships 2010

Horizontal Bar Final Men Senior

D E Score
1 MARAS Vlasios GRE 6.900 8.500 15.400
2 ZONDERLAND Epke NED 7.100 8.275 15.375
3 BOY Philipp GER 6.900 8.450 15.350
3 HAMBUECHEN Fabian GER 7.000 8.350 15.350
5 WAMMES Jeffrey NED 6.700 8.325 15.025
5 CUCHERAT Yann FRA 6.800 8.225 15.025
7 KULESZA Roman POL 6.400 7.825 14.225
8 PEGAN Aljaz SLO 6.600 7.200 13.80

Now let’s take a look at the routines of the top six guys and see how these scores match up!  I’ll put them in the order in which they finished:

Vlasios Maras High Bar 2010 Europeans Event Finals

Epke Zonderland High Bar 2010 Europeans Event Finals

Philipp Boy High Bar 2010 Europeans Event Finals

Fabian Hambuechen High Bar 2010 Europeans Event Finals

Jeffrey Wammes High Bar 2010 Europeans Event Finals

Yann Cucherat High Bar 2010 Europeans Event Finals

Now don’t get me wrong…I KNOW it must be hard to come up with accurate execution scores on high bar nowadays.  First, the routines are longer and have more skills in them than ever before.  Second, deductions have become more stringent than ever before.  Third, the differences BETWEEN possible deductions are bigger than ever before (0.1, 0.3, 0.5, and 1.0 vs. the old 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, and 0.5).  Fourth, high bar is a fast-moving event with no stops or even pauses, thus making judging very difficult.  Fifth, our code of points today has become SO technical that it prevents judges from being able to sit back and look at the overall picture of a routine.  The result is execution scores that are not only completed “boxed together,” but they hardly make any sense.  Are you telling me the difference in execution between ALL SIX of those routines…with that many skills and that many different styles…was only 0.275?  Why even HAVE the execution scores?

How Yann Cucherat was given the lowest execution score of those six guys, I’ll never know.  The routine was gorgeous, with perhaps a slight deduction on the Kolmann and a slight pike on the dismount.  He did begin the full turn the elgrip a bit late (the one at the end of the routine), but overall I can’t see how an 8.225 is a possible execution score.  His form and lines were beautiful.  He topped out his Takamoto full.   All his skills were well executed.  He should be rewarded.

Hambuechen and Boy were both robbed.  That was the best routine Hambuechen has done in a long time.  He did get slightly off line on the Takamoto-full but fought through it well.  His releases were fantastic…feet together on the Kolmann and a beautiful laid-out Tcatchev to Rybalko combination.  A one-tenth hop on the dismount, but no other real visible deductions anywhere…he was given an 8.35 E-score.  And Boy’s routine was gorgeous as well…I could see maybe one-tenth deductions on the laid-out Tcatchev, the Yamawaki, and the tap before the dismount.  The Zou Lou Min was slightly out of line (maybe one tenth).  He received an 8.45.

If they are deducting for handstands on the hopping skills or even the elgrip skills, I think this is totally impractical.  There is simply NO WAY to accurately deduct for that with all of the hopping and elgrip skills these guys are doing.  There are too many of them, and the deductions are too subjective…not to mention the nature of high bar as a swinging event doesn’t lend itself to hitting all those skills perfectly in a handstand.

What they SHOULD BE DEDUCTING for are Jeffrey Wammes’s hopping skills, because he shouldn’t even be getting credit for them.  The whole point of the hopping skills is to show some flight off of the bar…otherwise they are simply pirouettes.  Wammes had no flight at all on his stalder Ryablko, Rybalko, or even the Quast (hop full) at the end, yet his E-score was right in line with everyone else’s (8.325).  That’s the one area they SHOULD be trying to separate, and they aren’t doing it.

I love watching these routines, but something just isn’t working with the high bar judging right now.  They need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to accurately gauge the execution of these routines so the guys are properly rewarded for doing some of the best high bar routines ever done.

Let us know your thoughts on this!