Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: The Year in Louis Smith

(You can buy his calendar here.)

I've written a lot about my love for Krisztián Berki, which has made some people wonder whether I like Louis Smith. That, my friends, is a false assumption. I do like Mr. Smith. In fact, I like him so much that I have taken the time to detail the happenings in his life during 2012. Let's take a look...


January


In addition to revealing his eating habits in January, Louis competed in the London test event where he displayed his topiary facial hair for the first time in 2012. Performing in the old Great Britain leotards, he delivered a typical Louis Smith pommel horse routine: Consistent and incredibly hard (with a few of his typical execution errors--his hips lacked extension, and his shoulders were angled a little to one side when traveling up and down the pommel horse). The judges awarded him a 6.9 difficulty score, an 8.8 in execution, for a total of 15.7. Not bad, I'd say for the first outing of 2012.  It was good enough to win him the gold medal on pommel horse.


April



In March, Louis fractured his finger, but that did not slow Louis. In fact, when he competed in Zibo in April, he upped his difficulty level by changing his one-pommel sequence, whipping out a 720º Russian. (Don't know what a Russian is? Here's an explanation.) And it cost him. As he performed this harder skill (around the 0:48 mark), he had a few form breaks, lowering his execution score to an 8.6. With a 7.0 difficulty score (one tenth higher than his previous outing), Louis scored a 15.6. His final score was just one tenth lower than his score at the London Test Event, but this time, he was competing against Krisztián Motherbleepin' Berki, the King of Swing, who scored a 15.7, leaving Louis in second place. If only he had trimmed the sides of his head a bit, then, maybe he would have been lighter on his hands and could have avoided those costly form deductions. Just a thought.

All in all, not bad for competing on a fractured finger.

2012: Berki: 1. Smith: 0.

May


Louis's next battle with Berki came at the European Championships in Montpellier, and this time, he had his lighter, sleeker hairstyle to help him out.

After struggling a bit at the World Cup, Louis back to the routine he performed at the London Test Event, removing the 720º Russian from his routine. Even though he simplified his routine, he still had a form break, and once again, it was on one of those damn Russians. This time, his Wu gave him troubles. (You can see his legs come apart at the 0:46 mark.) As a result, he was awarded a 15.775 (6.9 in difficulty and 8.875 in execution). Krisztián was awarded a 15.958 (6.9 in difficulty and 9.058 in execution), and Louis, as a result, finished with a silver medal.

This time, Louis was not entirely a gracious loser. He tweeted:

As he later explained, he thought that Berki's difficulty score should have been a 6.7 rather than a 6.9, which would have given him a gold medal.

2012: Berki: 2. Smith: 0.

June


In June, the media forgot about the possibility of a judging controversy because Louis gave them something else to talk about.

Yup, Louis Smith unveiled his chiseled goodies for Cosmopolitan, and the judges seemed to like what they saw because when he performed at the British Championships at the end of June, he scored a ginormous 16.375 on pommel horse. (Okay, the two are not related.) There, he performed his 1080º Russian on one pommel horse, which gave him a 7.1 difficulty score and the gold medal.

With a HUGE talent like that, the coaches of Great Britain obviously hoped that he would bring home an individual medal at the Olympics, and in early July, Louis was named to the Olympic team. Daniel Keatings, however, was left off the team, sparking some controversy.

July 28


Louis fought back tears after his pommel horse routine during team qualifications. He scored a 15.8, which advanced him to the event finals in the number one position, and his team advanced to team finals in the third position.

On this day, Will Graves asked him hard-hitting questions about getting his haircut:


July 30


Two days later, Team GB took home the bronze medal in the team competition, winning the nation's first team medal since 1912.


August 5


Let's cut the crap, though. While Louis Smith was happy about the team medal, he was there to win a gold medal on pommel, which meant that August 5 was supposed to be his big night to shine.

Louis performed one of his cleanest routines of 2012. Sure, he had his typical deductions such as lack of hip extension on his circles, but he got rid of those little leg separations that were holding him back. As a result, he was awarded a 9.066 in execution. But since he performed his Zibo World Cup routine with a  720º Russian on one pommel rather than his British Championships routine with a 1080º Russian, his difficulty score was only a 7.0 (instead of a 7.1). His final score was a 16.066, which tied Krisztián Berki. However, since Berki had the better execution score, the Hungarian took home the gold.

In retrospect, it's obvious that Louis should have added the extra difficulty. It could have given him the extra tenth that he needed to beat Berki. But that's not the PR spin that Louis (or the media) took. At first, Louis feigned happiness, saying, "I guess I'm used to it now. But to come second against one of the best pommel-horse workers the world has ever seen? I'm a happy guy." Later on, he would state that he wanted a rule change: No more tiebreakers! Which I wholeheartedly support. He also told the press that his routine was much better--a sentiment that he would repeat on GymCastic.

It wasn't until December 30th that he would rewatch Berki's routine, tweeting:


It looks like he still thinks that he was wronged.


2012: Berki: 2.5 Smith: 0.5

December


After the Olympics, members of the British press redirected their attention, focusing more on Louis's personal life. Interesting tidbits popped up. For instance, he told reporters that he would choose cuddling with girls over having sex, which leaves me wondering whether he cuddled with the Playboy twins when he took them to his hotel in December.

Anyway, that's all a bunch of hooey tabloid press. Winning Strictly Come Dancing (a very difficult name to parse correctly) was the big event in Louis Smith's life after the Olympics. Here are his routines from the finale:

Was winning SCD redemption after the painful tiebreaker? I don't know, but there seems to be a trend forming among gymnasts in the twentieth-first century: Take home a silver medal at the Olympics, then win a dancing show. Now, the real question is: Who would win in a dance-off? Louis Smith or Shawn Johnson? Maybe we'll find out in 2013.

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