World Masters Gymnastics Championships 2017

 

My second year as an adult gymnast; my second World Masters' Gymnastics Championships! If you want to compare to last year (hint: it compares favourably! Grown-ups can improve at stuff! :D) that post is here.

We'll go in Olympic order because why the heck not.

Vault:

Well hey, this is a big improvement in that I actually trained vault this year! Vault was my worst event of a not-very-impressive all-around lineup as a kid. As far as I recall, it usually consisted of me running, putting my hands down at the front of the table, piking up to handstand, walking on my hands across the table so as not to smash my spine on the back edge of it, and flopping off onto my feet. It was SUPER IMPRESSIVE. So anyway, in the past year I've figured out how to get over the thing successfully at competition height, which is a win! I still pike up a bit, and my elbows bend to propel me off, but these two were good vaults for me and I was happy!

Bars:

 

This was the event I was most proud of. Not because it actually met the requirements for the level I was competing in (it didn't.) But what you just watched was the fulfillment of probably the most epic struggle of my entire young life... THE KIP. For the uninitiated, the kip is the movement by which gymnasts, from moderately skilled recreational athletes all the way up to the Olympics, get from hanging beneath a bar to supporting the body on top of the bar.  The specialness of this particular movement, as physics professor Rhett Allain wrote for Wired, is that "the gymnast starts in a position with low potential energy and ends at a higher potential energy (here I mean gravitational potential energy in the Earth-gymnast system). How does this work? Clearly the gymnast must do some work, but her arms don’t even bend."

Indeed! And not only is the kip an fascinating, beautiful and elegantly simple movement, it's also one that's pretty damn hard to learn if you're a jiggly, uncoordinated goober, like like my thirteen-year-old self, and not a wiry, obedient six-year-old. And having gone through the recreational, not competitive stream of gymnastics as a child, as a young teenager I found it to be simply beyond my abilities, physically and intellectually. So when I quit gymnastics at fourteen, despite many years and countless times of being told I was "so close!" to finally ending up on top of the damn bar, I never did get my kip.

I finally did get it, about ten years after my supposedly-final Kip Defeat, at an adult open gym practice at the Thunder Bay Gymnastics Association: 

 It took me almost another full year to get my other kip-- it turns out the same skill on the high bar feels vastly different from the low bar version-- but at WMGC I finally fulfilled a long-held dream of having a bar routine with no pullovers in it.

The other new skill in my bar routine is the dismount, acquired this summer; flyaway was a skill that seemed impossibly far away as a kid, and turned out to be relatively easy for me to learn now. (Shout-out to the parkour dudes at open gym who effectively taught me a flyaway with the following advice: "It's easy, yo, that's like, the first gymnastics trick I leaned. Just let go of the bar and flip.")

Beam:

Beam is the one event where I haven't caught up to where I was as a kid, only because I used to have more back flexibility and thus back walkover on the beam came fairly easily to me in ye olden days.  Still, I thought this was pretty solid (and the dismount was new!)

Floor:

I am a terrible choreographer, wow. But my choreography was marginally better than last year's! Part of my problem is inordinately ambitious music... this years' was heavy metal Shostakovich, last years' was the Stranglers' Golden Brown, and for next year I am terribly tempted by Tanya Tagaq's Uja. Perhaps a dance class should be part of my activity schedule next season!

I did the same back tumbling (roundoff back handspring back tuck) but it was much less terrifying than it was last year, and I can now do it out of two steps, not two million, so I fit it in vertically across the floor just to be weird. The front tuck is new but I landed on my ass. But I also landed on my ass in last years' front handspring, so... yeah.

The final "events" at WMGC are the extras: the timed rope climb, and the (this is the real name) Back Tuck Circle of Rainbows and Happiness. I didn't compete in either of these last year. This year, I actually got up the rope (and am now working on my foot-less rope climb as a goal for next year) and I DID THE BACK TUCK CIRCLE, because I learned a standing back tuck this year! Another new, not re-acquired, skill. I only got five rounds in before landing on straight knees and bouncing onto my hands-- disappointing since I wasn't even tired! Just means there's lots of room for improvement.

"Lots of room for improvement" sums up my gymnastics pretty well; and I mean that in a joyous way. How would my frustrated, ineffective pre-teen self have felt about the idea that she would finally start improving at the rate she had been waiting for long after she had aged out of "normal" gymnastics classes?

And who cares about her opinion, anyway?

Just like fine wine... the adult gymnastics facebook group