Optionals are so much fun to watch. It isn’t just the variety of music, it’s the variety of choreography (some gyms have a distinctive style) and, right from level seven, the variety of skills on display.
Here we switch to D and E scores at level seven, so it is always interesting to see how each gym squeezes as much as it can out of the code within the rules. For example, at the last competition we went to, there was pretty much a D score on every increment between 3.8 and 1.3 on beam, so you can imagine a fair bit of variety within the performances (in fairness, a 1.3 in level seven would suggest missing required elements).
What that means is that without at least a broad understanding of the code and the required elements, you can’t always pick the rank girls will end up in.
Gyms seem, to have different philosophies. Some are ‘go big’ others are ‘go clean’ (the ones that win everything do both). So on bars, you’ll get the girls who just compete one item that ‘moves through handstand’ but connect everything they do really smoothly, and their routines will look quick and simple, and then you’ll get girls who do a giant, a clearhip to handstand and a cast to handstand, and they look amazing from the stands but they’ve given the judges a lot more to work with….
But it’s so fun to watch. So much more fun than the compulsory levels.