Sunday, August 25, 2013

Kyla Ross: Do We Want What We Say We Want?

I've had a week to digest nationals (and wrap up some other major projects) and I can't stop thinking about Kyla Ross. Specifically, how gorgeous her execution is yet how bored gymnastics fans seem to be by her.

Frequently, you'll read bloggers and fans decrying the form of say, Aly Raisman or the like, and then they'll tell you how they just wish to see simpler skills done with perfection. But when a gymnast with somewhat lower difficulty like Kyla Ross comes along and hits set after set with virtually no execution errors and stunning lines that only someone who's 5'6" can have, many have reacted thusly: yawn. At least that's the general sentiment I'm seeing on the Internet.

So which is it gymternet--execution over difficulty? (The CoP has made its preference clear--difficulty.) It doesn't seem like we can get both in one package. Larisa Iordache's beam routine is packed with difficulty and she's the favorite to win the gold at Worlds but she is sloppy in the form department. I adore Aliya Mustafina but those legs when she twists on floor and vault are an eyesore. On neither event is Mustafina attempting anything particularly difficult to justify the messiness. We recognize these flaws and yet still root for these girls despite our stated desire to see clean, gorgeous gymnastics. And when confronted with a gymnast who does exactly what we say we wish every gymnast would do--easier routines with ease and grace and perfection--we complain.

It's more than just the fact that Ross' D-scores, unless upgraded, will keep her from major titles. Fans, in their criticism of her work, go beyond criticizing her ability to win meets. (This feels akin to talking about a political candidate's viability in the general election--talking about whether we think they can win it allows us to not have to talk about whether or not we support their actual positions.) Many seem to really dislike her gymnastics.

That's fine, but I am puzzled since Ross is doing what so many of us say we wish to see. This begs the question--do we gym fans actually want what we say want? 


Stacie's Site said...

On this, I am SOOOOO with you. I watch her perfection. I love it. I think, this is the most beautiful thing I have seen. Next please. She is giving us EXACTLY what we want. And proving that we REALLY don't know what we want.

Dvora Meyers said...

Kyla is a stunner but she's not my favorite. I'm OK--not thrilled--with a little sloppy for the sake of difficulty. But it bugs me when people criticize someone for poor form and then wish we could just see simple gymnastics, beautifully done and then criticize Kyla for doing just that. She doesn't have to be your cup of tea--but let's not be hypocritical about it.

And I think what gym fans actually want is for their favorites to win. So they apply certain critiques selectively to their favorites' rivals.