1972 FIG Bulletin WAG

1972: The Women’s Technical Committee’s Report on the Munich Olympics

In 1972, Berthe Villancher stepped down as the president of the Women’s Technical Committee (WTC), but she gave one final report on the Olympic Games in Munich. 

All in all, she was pleased with the progress on floor and uneven bars. Vault was a different story. She was the most worried about this apparatus, noting that it had fallen into a “rut” and that the WTC would need to study that apparatus closely.

Reminder #1: The WTC followed through. Prior to the 1974 World Championships, the WTC changed the requirements for vault finals — as did the 1975 Code of Points.

Reminder #2: Men’s gymnastics had its own vaulting crisis after the 1968 Olympics.

As for the judging in Munich, Villancher felt that there was partiality shown towards gymnasts with “a name,” and she alluded to the emotional nature of the women’s uneven bars final. 

My thought bubble: The emotional nature of the uneven bars final could be a veiled reference to the tight competition between Janz and Korbut and to what some believed was the impartiality of Sylvia Hlavacek, who, according to the Soviet press, was to be sanctioned after the competition. (If she was sanctioned, it did not last long, as Hlavacek was a judge at the 1974 World Championships.)

Tourischeva, 1972 Olympics
1975 Code of Points WAG

1975: The Women’s Code of Points

In 1975, the Women’s Technical Committee published a new version of the Code of Points. Below, you’ll find some of the updates, as well as the complete English text.

Happy gym nerding!

In Some Ways, Execution Started to Matter More in 1975.

Compared to the 1970 Code of Points, the 1975 Code of Points put slightly more emphasis on execution, making it worth 5.0 points (rather than the previous 4.0 points).

Composition of
6.00 Total5.00 Total
of Difficulty*
– Originality and
Value of Connections
– Value of General
Execution4.00 Total5.00 Total
Execution and
1.50 for execution
1.50 for amplitude
– General

But More Elements of Superior Difficulty Were Required in 1975.

4 elements of
medium difficulty
(0.50 each element)
4 elements of
medium difficulty
(0.30 each element)
2 elements of
superior difficulty
(1.0 each element)
3 elements of
superior difficulty
(0.60 each element)

Related: According to the 1975 Code of Points, the “final phase should contain an element or acrobatic series of superior difficulty” on floor exercise.

Changes to Vault

  • During optionals, two different vaults had to be performed.
  • During vault finals, two different vaults with turns had to be performed, one of which must have at least a ½ turn. Both vaults must be valued at 10.0 points.
    • In other words, gymnasts could not perform a handspring + front tuck in finals because the vault did not have a turn.
    • They could, however, perform a tucked Tsukahara and a piked Tsukahara because both vaults had turns and were out of a 10.0.
    • Note: This rule was edited in 1978, and the turn requirements were removed. As indicated in the appendix of the PDF below, the updated language stated: “During the Finals the gymnast must perform two different vaults. The counting mark will be the average mark of both vaults.”
  • Reminder: The rules for vault finals had begun to change in 1974.

Notable Changes to Beam

  • Length of the Routine
    • In 1975, the routine had to be between 1:15 and 1:35
    • In the 1970 Code, beam routines were longer — between 1:20 and 1:45
  • Do you hate full turns on beam? You have the 1975 Code of Points to blame! In 1975, a full turn became a requirement.
  • Large leaps or hops also became a requirement in 1975.

As You’ll See…

  • The Code of Points included some aspirational skills. For example, it included a vault entry with a front 1½ salto onto the table.
  • But difficulty in the 1975 Code of Points was largely uneven. For example, the floor section does not include a double full — a skill that was becoming increasingly common.

One More Thing

  • Falls
    • The 1975 Code was more lenient, making a fall a 0.50 deduction.
    • Note: Previously, in the 1970 Code of Points, falls off the apparatus received a 1.0 point deduction.
      • In this sense, the MAG and WAG Codes of Points were in harmony. Both disciplines gave 0.5 deductions for falls.
      • They weren’t in harmony when it came to risk, originality, and virtuosity (ROV). The women’s Code of Points wouldn’t include ROV until 1979. Meanwhile, the men’s Code of Points introduced the concept in 1968.

With No Further Ado…

Here’s the 1975 Code of Points for Women’s Artistic Gymnastics.

More on the Code of Points

FIG Bulletin WAG

1975: Tsukahara Vault Wins Medals

Pure gym nerdery. That’s what we have here. 

In 1975, the FIG reprinted an article that analyzed three Tsukahara vaults by three gymnasts: Lyubov Bogdanova, Ludmilla Tourischeva, and Alina Goreac. It includes drawings and tables that compare every fraction of a second of their vaults.

Context: Keep in mind that, in 1973, when the aforementioned vaults were performed, Tsukaharas were relatively new. Tsukahara himself performed the vault at the 1970 World Championships. Two years later, at the Riga International, East German gymnast Beate Gehrke did one of the first Tsukaharas in women’s artistic gymnastics. By the 1974 World Championships, Tsukaharas had become commonplace in WAG.

Have fun looking at this document from the archives.

1974 Romania WAG

1974: Comăneci and Ungureanu Win the Junior Masters Championships

Batman and Robin.
Simon and Garfunkel.
Woody and Buzz Lightyear.
Abbott and Costello.
Bert and Ernie.
Nadia and Teodora.

Nadia Comăneci and Teodora Ungureanu form one of the most iconic duos in gymnastics history — partly because of video footage like this:

And photos like this one:

(Original Caption) Romania’s brilliant young gymnast Nadia Comaneci, (front), and her teammate Theodora Ungureanu, who is almost as good as Nadia, enjoy a break from training at the boarding school they and other members of their Olympic team attend. The curtain was parted and you could get a glimpse of their life by watching the CBS-TV special, Nadia–From Romania With Love, on November 23, 1976. Flip Wilson was the host.

Did you know that, before their Olympic debut, the dynamic duo tied for the all-around title at the 1974 Romanian Junior Masters Championships? What follows are the results, as well as the newspaper coverage of the competition.

In the appendix, you can find a few articles on Comăneci and Ungureanu from the newspapers.

1974 Czechoslovakia Interviews & Profiles WAG World Championships

1974: Božena Perdykulová and Her “Vault to Glory”

For over three decades Czechoslovakia was a powerhouse in the world of women’s artistic gymnastics. From 1936 until 1968, Czechoslovak women’s artistic gymnasts always won at least one medal at the Olympics, and, except for 1950, from 1934 to 1970, they won at least one medal at the World Championships. (Czechoslovakia did not attend the 1950 World Championships.)

In 1972, that streak ended. No Czechoslovak gymnast won a medal in Munich, which led to much soul-searching.

Two years later, at the 1974 World Championships, the winds of fortune changed, and Czechoslovakia was on the podium once again. Božena Perdykulová, a newcomer to the international stage, came to Varna with an impressive Tsukahara and won a bronze medal.

Because Perdykulová is relatively unknown to English-speaking gymnastics fans, I translated two articles about her, as well as an article about the place where she trained.

Stadión, no. 51, 1974
1974 FIG Bulletin MAG WAG World Championships

1974: The FIG’s Reflections on the World Championships in Varna

What did the leaders of the FIG think about the 1974 World Championships?

For starters, none of them was thrilled about having to move the location of the competition. As you’ll see, both presidents of the technical committees and the president of the FIG mentioned the challenge of choosing a host for the 1974 World Championships. (More on that decision here.)

Valerie Nagy, the president of the Women’s Technical Committee, was generally displeased with the level of the gymnasts, writing: “Even without preliminary qualifications, the national federations should have been more severe when making their selections.”

In addition, she didn’t like the direction of balance beam, where she felt that gymnasts were trying to perform too many difficult acrobatic elements, which impacted the flow of the routine.

In that same vein, Arthur Gander, the president of the FIG, railed against the emphasis on risk and difficulty at the expense of execution.

Below, you can find Gander’s comments, as well as those of the MTC and the WTC.

My thought bubble: Yup, this is pretty nerdy stuff, but most people who read this site are pretty nerdy people. 🙂

A little trivia: Did you know that there were three score protests during the men’s competition? Guess how many of those protests were rejected.

1974 Judging Controversy WAG World Championships

1974: The Women’s Event Finals at the World Championships

Context: At the 1972 Olympics, only three countries (the Soviet Union, East Germany, and Hungary) were represented in the women’s event finals, and only two countries won medals (the Soviet Union and East Germany).

At the 1974 World Championships, five countries (the Soviet Union, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Hungary) were represented during the women’s event finals, and three countries won medals (the Soviet Union, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia).

Though there was slightly more diversity in 1974, some things did not change. Just as the uneven bars final was highly contentious in Munich, so, too, was the uneven bars final in Varna. Olga Korbut went as far as to say that the results were predetermined. 

Here’s what happened on Sunday, October 27, 1974.

Datum: 23.11.1974 Copyright: imago/Günter Gueffroy Annelore Zinke (li.) und Karin Janz (beide DDR)

According to Sovetsky Sport, Zinke was called the “brunette Janz.”
1974 WAG World Championships

1974: The Women’s All-Around Competition at the World Championships

In 1974, Ludmilla Tourischeva won her second-straight all-around title at the World Championships and proved what some, including head coach Larisa Latynina, believed to be true: Tourischeva would always trump Korbut in the all-around.

One month before the World Championships, the Soviet magazine Yunost published an article about Tourischeva and Korbut. Here’s an excerpt:

“Can Korbut finally win against Tourischeva?” they ask.

My answer is: “No, she can’t.”

On one apparatus – sure she can. On two. On three. But not in the big all-around with twelve apparatus (three times four), where the main title of the all-around champion is at stake.

Latynina once put it well into words: “Korbut will surprise, but Tourischeva will win.”

You have to be Tourischeva — steel in work, deaf to the temptations of the world, unquestioningly submissive to her own will as well as her coach’s. Tourischeva is a stayer, she possesses an ideally patient and stubborn all-around character.

And Olya Korbut is a person-explosion, a person of moods. Imagine a sprinter running ten thousand meters — this is Korbut in the all-around.

Stanislav Tokarev, Yunost, September, No. 9, 1974

That said, Korbut, among others, felt that the judges had crowned Tourischeva as the champion even before the competition in Varna began.

Interestingly, the highest score in the competition did not go to either Tourischeva or Korbut. Instead, it went to Annelore Zinke, who scored a 9.95 on bars. 

Note: Since there were four judges for each event with the high and low scores being dropped, this meant that two judges gave Zinke a 10.0 for her routine. One 10.0 was dropped, and her counting scores were a 9.90 and a 10.0 for a 9.95 average.

Here’s what happened on Friday, October 25 during the women’s all-around final.

February 1-22, 1974. Rostov-On-Don, USSR. Three-time Olympic champion, multiple world and European champion, Soviet gymnast Lyudmilla Tourischeva. The exact date of the photograph is unknown.
Olga Korbut taking part in the World Gymnastic Championships in Varna, Bulgaria. Original Publication: People Disc – HG0074 (Photo by D Deynov/Getty Images)

Reminder: This was the first World Championships with an all-around final. (The Munich Olympics were the first Olympic Games to include an all-around final.)

Reminder #2: In 1973, the Women’s Technical Committee tried to ban Korbut’s skills.

1974 WAG World Championships

1974: The Women’s Team Competition at the World Championships

The 1974 World Championships maintained the status quo. In Munich in 1972, the Soviet team came in first, the East German team in second, and the Hungarian team in third. The same was true in Varna in 1974.

But there were some surprises, primarily from the Romanian team. At the 1972 Olympics, they were sixth, finishing 7.55 points behind the third-place Hungarians. Two years later, they were fourth, finishing only 1.30 points behind the third-place Hungarians. And, as the European gymnastics community knew full well, the Romanians were going to pose a challenge in the future thanks to a young group of rising stars led by Nadia Comăneci. (You may have heard of her.)

Another surprise: Two years after Olga Korbut and Nancy Thies did standing back tucks on beam, the world saw one of the first layout stepouts — as performed by Romania’s Aurelia Dobre (Unfortunately, the news reports did not record the skill, but Hardy Fink got it on video. You can see it below.)

There were also accusations of score-fixing both by the Soviets and the president of the Women’s Technical Committee. (As we’ll see in the post about event finals, Korbut also alleged that the Soviet leadership engaged in behind-the-scenes machinations.) Even the audience was upset about the scoring. After a piked Tsukahara by U.S. gymnast Ann Carr, they protested her 9.4 for roughly several minutes.

Here’s what happened on Monday, October 21 (compulsories/competition 1a), and Wednesday, October 23 (optionals/competition 1b).

Hungary’s team, Source: Képes Sport, October 29, 1974

Note: Quality photos are hard to find for these World Championships
1974 Czechoslovakia WAG

1974: Czechoslovakia’s Plans for Uneven Bars

From 1936 until 1968, the Czechoslovak women’s artistic gymnasts always won at least one medal at the Olympics. In 1972, that streak ended. In 1974, the leadership of the Czechoslovak women’s team was wondering how to return to its golden age. According to the article below, one potential solution was to improve on uneven bars. In particular, they were hoping to find something unique and extraordinary on the apparatus — similar to what Korbut brought to bars in 1972.

Interestingly, the article points out that Korbut was not the only gymnast to train the salto release on bars. Czechoslovak gymnast Bohumila Římnáčová had trained the same skill but couldn’t master it. 

One final tidbit: It should be noted that the article leaves out an important detail in its historiography. At the 1934 World Championships, teams had a choice of uneven bars or parallel bars. The Czechoslovak team was the only team to choose uneven bars. In effect, it was the Czechoslovak women’s team that introduced uneven bars to FIG competitions.