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Right now amongst Russian RG community (both coaches and fans) there is some “controversy” over a child’s elbows.

Yana Sakovich (Moscow, 2010) is one of the top gymnasts in her age division. But she has uncontrolled hyper extension in her elbows. Which is unusual once you get to her level. What is more unusual is that they have decided to make it a feature of her routine in places.

What are your thoughts on this, both RG people and not

 
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Right now amongst Russian RG community (both coaches and fans) there is some “controversy” over a child’s elbows.

Yana Sakovich (Moscow, 2013) is one of the top gymnasts in her age division. But she has uncontrolled hyper extension in her elbows. Which is unusual once you get to her level. What is more unusual is that they have decided to make it a feature of her routine in places.

What are your thoughts on this, both RG people and not


I think gymnastics should make allowances for all body types/body differences. If a gymnasts toes just won't point because of how their joints work, they shouldn't be penalized for it. If this girl's elbows do this (and there is no risk of them like dislocating or something mid routine (and as long as it does not start a trend wherein gymnasts who can't do this start getting penalized for not doing it)), I'm glad she is working it into her personal style.

(Full disclosure: I dislike rhythmic because it relies so much on the insane flexibility and single body type that can accommodate that flexibility that I don't think it should qualify as an Olympic sport. Ballet isn't an Olympic sport and rhythmic is more ballet than it is gymnastics, imo. At least artistic accommodates a wider range of body types and physiques, though improvements could certainly be made there too)
 
I think gymnastics should make allowances for all body types/body differences. If a gymnasts toes just won't point because of how their joints work, they shouldn't be penalized for it. If this girl's elbows do this (and there is no risk of them like dislocating or something mid routine (and as long as it does not start a trend wherein gymnasts who can't do this start getting penalized for not doing it)), I'm glad she is working it into her personal style.

(Full disclosure: I dislike rhythmic because it relies so much on the insane flexibility and single body type that can accommodate that flexibility that I don't think it should qualify as an Olympic sport. Ballet isn't an Olympic sport and rhythmic is more ballet than it is gymnastics, imo. At least artistic accommodates a wider range of body types and physiques, though improvements could certainly be made there too)
At the level she is at and the repetition involved, it’s insanely dangerous for her elbows. Even though it’s naturally how she is. See also: Rebecca Bross’ knees
 
She likely has a connective tissue disorder, though there are also "benign" causes of joint hyper mobility . Encouraging continuous hyperextension is incredibly dangerous and will have horrible consequences in the long term regardless of the cause of the hyper mobility. Depending on the exact condition there are also many other long term problems, some that could be deadly, that need to be monitored.
 
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For structural things (Bross Knees, this girl's elbows), I agree that there's a level of needing to ignore it/not penalize it.

Feet, however, I do not agree with. You can absolutely improve the line of the flattest of feet (and improve the arch as the foot grows) as long as you intervene before growth stops. You won't transform Raisman's feet into Podkopayeva's, but improvements can be made and therefore, should be deducted.
 
I have EDS and there is a lot more to it than just hypermobility. Hypermobile joints without a connective tissue disorder can lead to serious problems later in life, too, though. It may not cause any pain right now, but using it as a party trick (or a gymnastics skill) is a bad idea.
EDS manifests itself in many different ways. I have clEDS, which only affects my skin (easily bruised, elastic) and hypermobile joints. My sister has additional autoimmune rheumatologic issues. It's possible this gymnast may just have hEDS without the autoimmune issues, who knows. I imagine she is super prone to dislocations at the very least.
 
I don't have Ehlers-Danlos, but my elbows do hyperextend like that. It's not good for them, and it's certainly something I worked to address in dance, gymnastics, and yoga. I don't think she'll be well-served by intentionally hyperextending that way over time.
 
Right now amongst Russian RG community (both coaches and fans) there is some “controversy” over a child’s elbows.

Yana Sakovich (Moscow, 2010) is one of the top gymnasts in her age division. But she has uncontrolled hyper extension in her elbows. Which is unusual once you get to her level. What is more unusual is that they have decided to make it a feature of her routine in places.

What are your thoughts on this, both RG people and not


I'm not keen on how insanely thin she is. Is that normal for a 13 year old RG gymnast?
 
I'm not keen on how insanely thin she is. Is that normal for a 13 year old RG gymnast?
Yes, it’s not unusual. That’s how thin you have to be pre puberty to still be thin post puberty. Particularly if the gymnast does not have especially slim parents and can rely on genetics.

She does have exceptionally thin arms though, possibly related to her condition, which I think makes her look much thinner than she actually is. It won’t be on purpose, even without the hyper extension, she does not have what is considered ideal arms.

The “one body type” thing is often something that RG is criticised for. But it isn’t strictly true. Yes there is a desired body type, both for aesthetic and athletic reasons. Many of the shapes in RG are significantly easier the less body fat and muscle mass you have. There have however been plenty of gymnasts over the years who don’t have this body type who have been very successful. Alina Kabaeva and current European champion Stiliana Nikolova, who despite having a mother who was part of the Bulgarian group who won gold at 1985 worlds, looks exactly like an elite artistic gymnast.

It is just the difference in the disciplines. In WA, the greatest improvement in performance will come not from a gymnast losing weight, but maintaining weight and converting that weight into muscle mass, thus reducing body fat %. In RG, your performance will be improved by being the lightest you can be without losing muscle. As a RG gymnast, you can gain a small amount of weight, yet you retain your flexibility. So when you do something like a needle scale, you can feel the extra fat that is preventing you from reaching your optimum scale and you know that it cannot be fixed by stretching more.
 
I think the fact that rhythmic has had champions who aren't stick thin could potentially challenge the idea that it's necessary to be that tiny. Is thinness needed to some degree? Yeah, you need lines and lightness for the sport. Is it needed to the degree that has been culturally enforced? I think it's worth questioning on that front. I don't usually feel as concerned about extreme thinness as maybe I should because I was taught to like the aesthetic, but her arms are really really thin.
I say this as someone who has been questioning and challenging perceptions about body composition in a lot of areas as I try to recover from the mindset I grew up with in the early 90s surrounding weight. We were just told it was true that if you gained any extra weight or shape you were done in the sport, but a lot of women have proved that not to be true over the last couple of decades.
 
I read it. My German is not perfect, but I took it to be critical of the selection criteria rather than Kevric personally. Of course, Seitz does come across completely delusional
 

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