What We Learned From Scam Part 1: The Answer to the US Bars Question

It’s Aly Raisman.

Has to be. Don’t fight it, Stoi! readers. We’re going to tell you why.

Traditionally, Raisman has been considered a power gymnast. This is because she is an astonishing tumbler, gets big height on vault, flexes her feet throughout her beam routine and on bars, shows all the extension of a dead dog on crack. To be fair to her, she’s done very well to get to that level on the event with Mihai Brestyan as a coach (motto ‘just because I’m not in Romania anymore, doesn’t mean we can’t piss on the memory of Nadia’s first 10 at every opportunity). I don’t underestimate how remarkable that achievement is, in context. Nonetheless, her bars remain execrable.

Yet, clearly, international judges like Aly on this event. They obviously see something the rest of us don’t. We thought nothing could top her 12.9 in the Tokyo AA, which by our calculation would have been mid 15.5s if she’d hit. But Scam came very close.

This routine genuinely gave Bronwyn’s cat an episode.

When that set can get 14.333 from an apparently international judging panel, it’s time to get up and go home. Seriously. Game over. Fuck Bross, Liukin, Caquatto, Li, even Douglas. We have a winner. There can be but one choice for the US bars specialist slot in London. Raisman.

Perhaps they were giving her an originality bonus for debuting the tucked Tkatchev. Fingers crossed she throws it in London. I can hardly wait.


19 responses to “What We Learned From Scam Part 1: The Answer to the US Bars Question

  • Trenton Dorchy

    I’m not sure exactly why but this website is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

    • Stoi!

      Hi Trenton – you aren’t the first (and won’t be the last) to bring up the “loading slow” issue. I’ve run into this problem on several wordpress pages.

      I’ve made it so we only have 1 post per page, and after I updated my browser, I quit having this problem for the most part.

      This isn’t really my area of expertise, so if any readers have any advice for you (or us) on how to make it run better, feel free to comment.

      I want the blog to be as easy as possible for people to read.


  • Nicholle Duffek

    I just added this feed to my bookmarks. I have to say, I really enjoy reading your blogs. Thanks!

  • Sammy A

    Good commentary. I agree w/ your scoring comments- that score is a joke for that routine. Aly’s routine looks like a L9-10 warm up on the low bar before a sloppy transition to high bar and then flexed feet and bent knees. Better routines were done at the Nastia Cup the day before. Scam was in full effect there… Id love to see Raisman point a toe on bars- would love!

    I do think Raisman is doing her best to try to vie for that 2nd aa spot in London. A healthy Bross, Douglas or even Ross pulls her out. My bet is we never see her on bars in London. She’s there for floor- not even vault b/c we have wieber, douglas, maroney and ross all throwing nice amanars. Floor+ mental strength= Raismans London ticket… imo of course.

  • Anonymous

    I’m assuming this is pure sarcasm? If so, it’s hilarious!

  • jess

    I really don’t know why Marta hasn’t forced Mihai to hire a competent bars coach. Of course the first step is admitting you have a problem that is keeping your 3 event athlete from actually being an all arounder. (well ignoring the fact that Aly has major form errors on everything) Everything I’ve heard at Brestyans says they don’t prioritize bars work at all.

    Aly’s issues on bars are an extreme example of an overall problem with american gymnastics which is that coaches work with young gymnasts to develop them for elite they gravitate to the kid who can crank out a full in or learn a yurchenko double or 2.5 (it’s kind of amazing to see the trend of amanars in the junior set) vs the kid with the flexibility to do stalders/endos. The tops system is partially to blame as it just focuses so relentlessly on strength over other factors.

  • KP

    Aly Raisman makes me feel impatient for Becca Bross to get her shit together and place 1st or 2nd on bars at Visas. At least Bross points her toes, even if the sickled feet and knock knees make me a little nauseous.

    (To be fair, I don’t know what you can do about knock knees once you have them. Raisman could ABSOLUTELY take a few dance lessons and learn how to point her feet through the arch, instead of just curling her toes under on occasion, like a symbolic nod to that silly old gymnastics tradition of toe-pointing.)

  • missy

    hahaha looking forward to more “lessons”

  • Stoi!

    Alas Roxana, I wouldn’t know what to do with it. Bronwyn probably pistol whips people for pushing in at the bar, though.

    Seriously, I think Lauren’s mixing up two issues. Yes Aly’s difficulty level is good considering her coaching and where her talents lie (although power gymnasts can be decent bars workers, eg early Amanar). That doesn’t mean she deserved her E score.


    • Lauren

      I meant that for Scam scoring it’s a pretty reputable score. She has decent difficulty. Her form is mostly crap but it’s not as bad as it’s been in the past (especially after watching her in training, where nearly everyone in the media workroom mentioned being impressed with her, kind of validating what I thought was a product of my brain running on no sleep…not that training counts towards her score here, but in training she was a rock on this event with only minor form issues, so yes, she IS better at bars than she’s been in the past).

      Would she receive a 14.333 for her Scam routine at Worlds? No. But here she had no major mistakes aside from bent knees coming down from the Tkachev. At Worlds qualifications she got a 14.0 despite leg separation on every single element and not coming close to hitting a single handstand, so my note about her E-score is that CONSIDERING it’s Scam scoring, a 14.333 sounds about right.

      So considering the circumstances (the circumstances being that she’s Aly Raisman on bars), yes, I do think she looks good on this event. Will she be an American bars savior? Laughable. But for ALY RAISMAN ON BARS she is much stronger and could actually receive a score in a legit international setting that could make her an AA threat.

      • Lauren

        (and by “major mistakes” I mean things that would be noticeable to a casual viewer, not like, the form/style issues we gym fans bitch over!)

      • nastierlookin

        But this was more than just general inflated scoring. Raisman received the 2nd highest E score of the competition (not counting Gabby), beating clean work from Lisa Hill, Georgia Simpson and Iordache (was she clean? don’t remember). It was definitely unfair within the context of the competition.

      • Stoi!

        To be fair, Iordache was definitely given a gift on beam. But I’m ok with that just because it shows that now and then they’ll toss a high score out for someone not on the hometeam…

    • Stoi!

      We probably could do an entire post on power gymnasts that were great on bars. Karpenko would be the superior choice to Amanar.

      I understand that Iordache’s bars were far from great and she totally botched a pirouette, but there’s just no way that she and Aly’s scores should have been within a tenth of one another.

      I echo Clara’s sentiments about being able to maximize your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses. Example – Shawn Johnson is far from the most flexible/graceful gymnast. She always did a good job of not tossing a myriad of leaps incapable of hitting 180 in her beam routine. Instead, she went with a switch side. Her switch leap and split jump were nasty, but those leaps are almost compulsory in a beam routine whether you’re flexible or not.

      The selection of skills in Aly’s beam routine (tour jete 1/2, switch 1/2) are just all wrong for her. There’s no way that she can think those leaps look good on her. I’m almost waiting for a sheep jump to make its debut.

      – B

  • sgchappelle@gmail.com

    Ok, I see what you’re saying. I still feel a bit partial to Raisman, but I get your idea and you make a good point(s). PS thank you for replying thoughtfully and sincerely, unlike the YouTube gym trolls who attack those who don’t share their opinion 🙂

  • Stoi!

    Thanks lifje!

    SGChappelle, we’ve mentioned before that we like Raisman’s tumbling and her DTYs- the Amanar is scrappy but her double is one of the better ones out there. However, we hate on her because so much of her gymnastics is sloppy, ugly caca that she doesn’t even attempt to fix. Even her form during relatively simple elements like bhs and roundoffs leaves a lot to be desired. I find it hard to believe that an athlete of her considerable talent couldn’t sort this out.

    As such, she’s a poor example of the point you’re making about power, consistency etc. Wieber is a much better one- she looked ropey the other day, but that’s not necessarily significant. Jordyn is a gymnast who clearly is never going to be graceful and poised, but makes an effort. Her beam is unremittingly dreadful, but she’s a fine vaulter and has intelligently chosen skills to maximise her watchability on bars and floor. She apparently had dance lessons in 2010-11, and worked on her weakness. So now her floor is a good example of the best that can be achieved by her type of gymnast: fast, fun, has an identifiable theme and is well sold. Her bars routine has interesting composition and she hits some nice positions in it- poor swing, but again she maximises her strengths rather than just ignores her weaknesses. Aly could do this, and doesn’t. Hence the slagging. We’ve no problem with power athletes who work to their strengths, any more than with those who rely on finesse instead, like Yang Yun and some of Khorkina’s spindlier efforts. It’s all about making the most of what you’ve got.


  • Roxana

    Well, should I give you a gun?:D
    “Also, shoot me for saying it, but I actually think Raisman deserved her score on this event. Or was close to deserving it. A 5.9 difficulty is nothing to sneeze at, especially for a weak bars worker.”
    of course, The Couch Gymnast writer Lauren Hopkins

  • lifje

    love this!!! xD

  • sgchappelle@gmail.com

    I agree, Raisman sucks at bars and her form is formidable. BUT, there is a tradeoff between execution and difficulty, and the key to successful gymnastics is finding the balance between the two. Even those gymnasts who appear to have successfully achieved both good form and high difficulty have some weaknesses (for example, Mustafina’s twisting form). I feel like you guys rightfully acknowledge this in most situations, but you shit on Raisman super hard all the time, without acknowledging her consistency and tremendous power on floor. Her new tumbling pass is insane, her Amanar is 100 times better than I expected it to be, and the leap out of her dos santos was actually well controlled. You guys usually do a great job and I appreciate the funny commentary, but it’d be nice if you gave Raisman a break for once – Komova will never have the mental toughness or power she was, just like Raisman will never have the grace and poise of Komova.

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