gymnastics rules encourage difficult skills

Most everyone agrees. The biggest problem with the “new” Code of Points used in Beijing is that athletes with high difficulty were rewarded more than athletes with superb form, line and technique.

But why did this happen?

Former American Champion Todd Thornton was blogging the Olympics for Inside Gymnastics. Like many others, he was very disappointed that the judges “boxed” the B-scores for execution.

Nastia-Kexin.jpgTodd takes a very strong position on the Nastia vs He Kexin tie break in the Bars Final:

I was sitting a mere 30 feet away from the uneven bars, with a perfect side angle view during finals. In my opinion, Nas was underscored by two to three-tenths. …

He Kexin, the eventual gold medalist, on the other hand, had more deductions throughout her routine than Liukin, in my opinion. She missed several handstands, caught a few releases close, and on one transition was caught in a near dead hang. Oh, and she took a step forward and to the side on the dismount. In my opinion, Kexin was over scored by two-tenths. With a difference of about five-tenths in the routines, I thought there was no way the judges would keep Nas from taking home her second Olympic Gold. But they did, along with a tie-break system that just doesn’t make sense.

Both routines have the same difficulty (7.7) and on this day, the judges evaluated the execution equally, for a tie score of 16.725. But a tie-break rule that is ridiculously complicated awarded gold to Kexin and silver to Liukin. …

Some B-panel judges had Nastia ahead. Some had He Kexin ahead.

But the B-scores were so close that it could have gone either way.

The point is, somehow FIG must find a way to get the judges to make a greater range of B-scores between routines of conspicuously different quality. Right now judges are afraid of being too far “out of range” with the rest of the panel.

Coach Sommer of and others have made this same point:

Just look at the results from the (Olympic) pommel horse finals (or any finals or throughout the competition, actually). In pommel horse finals, the gymnasts who placed from second to sixth were all within three-tenths of each other in execution (ranging from 9.075 to 9.325). Watch the routines back and you’ll see a completely different quality to those routines – a lot more variance than three tenths. Look at the overall quality of Hiroyuki Tomita’s routine – his bodyline, his toe point, his overall manner of execution and compare it even with Louis Smith (who took home the bronze) and who had multiple form breaks, flexed feet and breaks in bodyline and rhythm. It just doesn’t make sense.

Thornton’s Take: The Scoring Controversy

Yahoo Sports

Bruno Grandi says he will insist the Technical committees make those changes to the rules. He called the scoring on the medal for Cheng Fei who fell on Vault in the Final “absurd”.

Will FIG “fix” the Code?

I’ll believe it when I see it.


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Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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