Since 2015 worlds judges have been seated off the competition floor at big events. What do you think are the pros, cons and neutral consequences of this?
- Something that came up in Glasgow was that the increased distance from the apparatus means it’s harder to spot verbal coaching assistance on bars. The Chinese coaches are pretty infamous for this.
- On beam all the judges being on one side means they all have the same rubbish view of gymnasts performing their sideways choreography facing away from them. I can’t think of an example where this might have mattered for judging that artistry component and it’s probably a give benefit to gymnast if you can’t see exactly what their arms/hands are doing situation anyway. However I have seen examples on floor where the judges wouldn’t have been able to see exactly what was going on for sections of low choreography.
- Perhaps to guard against the previous point, floor routines are increasingly being choreographed to perform to one side of the floor. As a fan that enjoys taking photos during competitions, I really noticed this at 2022 Euros and 2022 worlds. So many key poses and choreographic passages all face the same way and for many gymnasts I have nothing but back photos. Minor annoyance for me, but it’s still a shame to see performing to the audience as a whole being neglected.
- We miss out on seeing judges facial expressions e.g. Cheryl Hamilton and Maroney’s vault, judge smiling at Cheng Fei on floor in Athens.
- No chance of vaulters ending up in judges’ laps a la Hamm/Purvis.
- Ending on a positive, it has made the field of play look much cleaner and this is a clear benefit for photographers.