Get Up And Run Away With It

Yesterday, I climbed up and down a ladder to put up temporary paper shades in the kitchen and living room. If you haven’t seen these wonderful things, you should know that they soften light and create tranquility. I needed tranquility because climbing up and down the ladder caused my right hip to kick my ass from the inside. It would not be accurate to suggest I have a Home Decorating Injury, but I certainly sprained my mojo.

While we sit back and contemplate carefully sitting back and contemplating, let’s also consider how sometimes things take turns we might’ve seen coming. For instance: Zou Kai won the Men’s Floor Exercise with a routine that should have embarrassed him. Don’t get me wrong: it was crisply executed and stacked with difficult elements. He is a remarkable athlete, no doubt about it. But – and I know there are people ready to argue with me – it wasn’t a floor routine.

Yes, according to the code of points, it was. But no, it wasn’t. A floor routine is supposed to place into a harmonious and exciting whole an athlete’s skill and technique. By this stage of competition, with luck and good television coverage, we’ve seen the routines a few times. Twice during Zou Kai’s floor exercise he did this half-hearted leap for which his feet barely left the ground. For a man who can almost fly, he barely hopped, and the first time I saw him do it, I nearly dropped my refreshing adult beverage. I mean, really. Won’t anyone think of Me?

Besides the safety of my drink, there’s something else – if you believe that: many routines by both the male and female athletes have become little more than tumbling passes set end to end, with pauses and twitching to mark beginnings and endings. Zou Kai provided a particularly egregious example of this, and by egregious I mean that his tumbling passes were astounding, then he stopped, and then he would do another stratospheric tumbling pass. And astounding it would be, but that’s not a floor routine. In fact, there’s a whole sport dedicated to this called power tumbling, and that way lies Zou Kai’s destiny. Go with my blessing, Zou Kai!

The Danes are apparently monsters with the power tumbling. I admit: there’s something about a blond man in black tights doing a series of somesaults that makes me want to do handsprings.

Thing is: this is what the audience wants and the code of points now rewards athletes for pandering. So since we’re pandering, why not pander BIG? Let’s get rid of pommel horse which almost no one loves*, ditch floor ex and replace it with long, gorgeous, swooping tumbling runs. We can send Cirque du Soleil and TV talent shows perfumed thank-you notes for showing us the way. Because, in truth, we’re never going back.

*Kurt Thomas, you know I love you. Thanks for carrying my sister with the broken foot to the truck at gymnastics camp all those years ago. But that can’t make up for giving us the only reason to keep pommel horse in the lineup: the often vain hope that it might – if only for a moment – be interesting to look at, and let’s never again speak of GymKata. It can only open old wounds…

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