Welcome to the 2024 season of Judge’s Inquiry! For my first set of routine break downs, I will be looking at some of the 9.975s (routines with a 10.0/9.95 split) from weeks one and two of the season. When I watch these routines, I judge them in real time without using slow motion or instant reply in order to be as realistic as possible and mimic the views (where possible) and experiences of the judges. Here’s what I thought of some of the top routines from the first two weeks of the season.
Mya Lauzon, California (Jan. 13, 2024)
Small foot adjustment (-0.05)
I 100% understand why this went 9.975. She had a tiny adjustment of her right foot when she landed, which I’m betting the judge on the right side saw and the judge on the left didn’t because her other leg was blocking the view.
Sierra Brooks, Michigan (Jan. 12, 2024)
Small hop (-0.1)
For this vault, I am not sure why a judge would give this a 10.0. This vault could have gone anywhere from 9.85 to 9.90 in my opinion, especially if you compare it to Lauzon’s above. If Lauzon’s small heel lift adjustment warrants a half tenth deduction, Brooks’s hop should be a full tenth. The judge could consider a small direction deduction as well since her hop is slightly to the left, indicating her landing isn’t completely aligned forward.
Victoria Henry, Ball State (Jan. 13, 2024)
This one was tricky to get a good video, as it looks like the stream was glitchy right when they showed her vault and the Ball State footage is at a different angle and a close up, so it’s hard to see her entire body. That said, there was a bit of leg form on the way down that the judges may or may not have seen. To me, it looks like she’s preparing for a landing, not having loose legs in the air, so I would not have deducted. Her stick was solid, and she had great height, distance, rotation, and body position in the air. This could have been a 10.0 from me, and was the best vault of the three 9.975s here.
Lily Smith, Georgia (Jan. 6, 2024)
I really struggled to find anything that might be deductible in this routine. The only thing I saw is a possible rhythm deduction for this grip adjustment right before her giants. Everything else about this routine was absolutely pristine, and I am looking forward to seeing even more perfection from Smith in her NCAA career. I probably would have given this one a 10.0.
Kinsey Davis, Nebraska (Jan. 12, 2024)
Leg separation (-0.05)
Leg separation (-0.05)
Arm bend (-0.05)
Arm bend (-0.05)
This routine is what I call a “college 10.” It has noticeable deductions, but they tend to be the ones that are ignored or overlooked frequently by NCAA judges. Although it is hard to see leg separation from the side, it’s not impossible. With Davis competing on a podium, it’s much easier to see since the judges can see under her, similar to the camera view. Davis also bends her arms slightly when she comes over the top of the bar on both of her giants. Again, this is very picky, but if you watch Lily Smith above, her arms are straight on her giants. In my opinion, this means judges should deduct for bent arms to reward those athletes that do perform giants with perfect form.
Raena Worley, Kentucky (Jan. 5, 2024)
Balance error (-0.05)
This was a strong, confident, dynamic routine from the Kentucky veteran, Raena Worley. She hit all her shapes and handstands, and had great form and rhythm throughout her routine. She did wobble back slightly on her landing, which you can see by her lifting her toes off the mat and leaning back slightly to maintain the stick position. This one feels more like a 9.95 to me.
Coutney McCann, Ohio State (Jan. 14, 2024)
Failure to hold finishing position (-0.05)
McCann stuck a beautiful beam routine, including her dismount. Could her hips have been a little flatter in her layout to two feet? Maybe, but that’s not where her deduction came from this time. New for the 2024 season, gymnasts have to hold their finishing position with both arms about their head for a full second to show full control of their landing. McCann got to about a half second before celebrating with her team, which should have incurred an automatic half-tenth deduction from both judges. Last season, this would have been a four-star 10.0, but this season? It’s 9.95 from me.
Syd Morris, LIU (Jan. 14, 2024)
Body posture (-0.05)
Completion of twist (-0.05)
Small step (-0.05)
This was a confident, beautiful routine with one of the best pike jumps I’ve ever seen. Their biggest deduction came from the landing, though. They landed slightly under-rotated on the twist with their chest forward and legs apart. The rule is that you have to be able to slide your heels together, and Morris had to step their foot back to finish. This would have been a 9.85 to 9.90 from me.
Gabby Gladieux, Alabama (Jan. 13, 2024)
Small adjustment on landing (-0.05)
I really liked this routine from Gladieux, especially her leap passes, which can be a deduction trap for some otherwise perfect floor routines. She may have had some leg crossing on her Rudi in her last pass, but I couldn’t tell from this angle. She did, however, have a clear hop after a sky-high full-in, putting this routine solidly in the 9.95 category.
Article by Rhiannon Franck
Rhiannon Franck is a former national-rated NAWGJ women’s gymnastics judge with over 15 years of USAG judging experience and nine seasons judging NCAA gymnastics. Outside of gymnastics, Franck works at a university as a nursing professor and loves to travel.