No More Perfect 10.
August 11, 2008 9:48 PM   Subscribe

No More Perfect 10s. The new Olympic scoring has rendered the Perfect 10 obsolete. Let's remember what it looked like: Nadia Comaneci - Balance Beam & Uneven Bars - 1976. Balance Beam - 1980. Mary Lou Retton - Vault 1984. Lavinia Milosovici -Floor Exercise 1992.
posted by grapefruitmoon (79 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
What about Nellie Kim?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:06 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I just saw a guy get a 16.3, huh?
posted by lee at 10:06 PM on August 11, 2008


Dear elves,

We don't compete in your weightlifting competitions. Stay out of our gymnastics.

KTHXBYE
posted by qvantamon at 10:10 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


This pertains only to Gymnastics.
posted by longsleeves at 10:11 PM on August 11, 2008


Nadia was such a cool customer. Not only is her body made from completely different materials than mine or most other humans, there was no emotion other than confidence in a job well done after that balance beam performance. She looked pleased but otherwise was completely in control. Pretty cool, in several ways.
posted by maxwelton at 10:17 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm confused. Where's Bob Costas' blathering?
posted by fungible at 10:37 PM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, those actually made me want to watch the Olympics.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:38 PM on August 11, 2008


Wow, Metafilter, super cynical on the Olympics. Please try to remember that no matter how sold out the games are, the athletes competing in them still can do shit like raise their entire bodies from the horizontal on rings alone. Makes me want to watch the Olympics indeed. I don't care who is sponsoring.
posted by Camofrog at 10:49 PM on August 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


Wow, its like they want you to get fed up of their stupid shit and give up.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:11 PM on August 11, 2008


Were there ever any men who scored a perfect 10 in gymnastics?
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 11:28 PM on August 11, 2008


Silly humans. We can't judge anything without getting all judgmental! Good thing we've worked in all these fancy numbers and fractions and statistics and difficulty levels...that'll make us fair. Well, confused at the least.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:29 PM on August 11, 2008


Wow, Metafilter, super cynical on the Olympics. Please try to remember that no matter how sold out the games are, the athletes competing in them still can do shit like raise their entire bodies from the horizontal on rings alone.

Yeah, exactly. Whatever the nationalistic/corporate stuff around the Olympics is, the fact remains: these are people who have more dedication and focus than most of us could ever aspire to. They spend unbelievable amounts of time and energy (and yes, occasionally, drugs) to achieve a goal that you and I could never even hope to get close to. And then they all get together and compete against each other.

Be as cynical as you want, but there have already been some transcendant moments--watching the anchor of the USA mens 4x100 relay visibly put on that extra bit of speed to win? That was unbelievable. He was already going faster than all but a few people on the planet could ever hope to go, and then he did more.

Every athlete at the Games has done more to fulfill a life's dream than most of us can even pretend to. Have a little respect.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:51 PM on August 11, 2008 [21 favorites]


Marina Lobatch never won a World or European Championship title, but she put it all together at the 1988 Olympics. With scores of 10.0 on every apparatus, she won the rhythmic gymnastics all-around with a perfect score of 60.000.

Only four of her six performances are on Youtube.
posted by netbros at 11:56 PM on August 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the performance links. Even though I was never interested in gymnastics per se, I remember being in awe of Nadia Comaneci when I was a young girl.

It's sad that the Olympics have become so commercialized and unnecessarily complicated. I can remember when watching the Olympics on television felt like a shared experience (i.e. everyone in my peer group had seen the same events I had). I guess it's because during my childhood, our television selections weren't watered down by having 100 other channels to choose from.
posted by amyms at 11:58 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


And if we're going to talk about perfection..

Sarajevo, 1984. Torvill & Dean. Bolero.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:02 AM on August 12, 2008 [7 favorites]


Were there ever any men who scored a perfect 10 in gymnastics?

At Seoul, SK in 1988, the Soviet Union men's team performance included seven perfect scores of 10 by four different gymnasts including Vladimir Artemov, Valeri Liuken (father of current American Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin), Dmitri Belozerchev, and Sergei Kharikov.
posted by netbros at 12:13 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I dislike this new system.
Since the only time I ever see gymnastics is at the Olympics, I have no reference for the scores.
10.0 being the best gave me a starting point.
I knew that someone getting an 8 isn't really all that close to winning, whereas the person with 9.9 has a pretty good shot.
With the new scores, I have no idea if the person with a 14.83 is way ahead, way behind or what.
posted by madajb at 12:28 AM on August 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Dear elves,

We don't compete in your weightlifting competitions. Stay out of our gymnastics.


Hey, The Carnival of the Phenotypes is the best part!

Besides, my all-time favorite is the towering 5'4" drama queen, Svetlana Boginskaya.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:33 AM on August 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


I may be a simple slob but Comaneci's first dismount in the 1980 clip is probably one of the most perfect things I've ever seen. My jaw actually dropped.
posted by minifigs at 12:53 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Every athlete at the Games has done more to fulfill a life's dream than most of us can even pretend to. Have a little respect. .

Blimey, do we get to see an elegant dismount from that high horse?
posted by freya_lamb at 1:24 AM on August 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


Blimey, do we get to see an elegant dismount from that high horse?

Ah. Missing the point, and by such a wide margin.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:37 AM on August 12, 2008 [5 favorites]


Be as cynical as you want, but there have already been some transcendant moments--watching the anchor of the USA mens 4x100 relay visibly put on that extra bit of speed to win? That was unbelievable. He was already going faster than all but a few people on the planet could ever hope to go, and then he did more.
Every athlete at the Games has done more to fulfill a life's dream than most of us can even pretend to. Have a little respect.


When I was a kid in school, we learned about the first ever perfect 10 in the Olympics. It was a Big Deal. And every gymnast after that aspired to be a part of that rare club. And now no one else ever will.

To me, complaining about taking away the perfect 10 isn't a slight to the gymnasts.

To me, taking away the perfect 10 is the slight.
posted by paisley henosis at 2:35 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ambrosia Voyeur, you are, as they say, made of win. In all my on-again, off-again watching of the Olympics, nobody has ever quite taken the place of Svetlana Boginskaya in my heart.
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:01 AM on August 12, 2008


Losing the perfect 10 scoring seems to reflect badly on the judges. "Spurred in part by the judging errors at the 2004 Olympics". It's a pity their doing a lesser job ends up being less fun for the athletes and the audience.

That Nadia Comaneci on the balance beam is breathtakingly beautiful, exquisite. wow. They're all amazing. I did enjoy Nadia Comaneci's non-egotistical matter of factness in her style. Not the puffed upness of Mary Lou, whose exuberance is delightfully contagious.

And Ambrosia Voyeur, that Svetlana Boginskaya video, at 1:47 it's as if she is flying. I *love* that part.

So incredibly beautiful, all the gymnastics. It's my favorite part of the Olympics.
posted by nickyskye at 4:02 AM on August 12, 2008


I kind of agree, paisley, but that's not what I was referring to.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:02 AM on August 12, 2008


I guess I'm in the minority, but I kind of like the new system. Why should gymnastics have a ceiling of 10.0 when "real" competitions do not? See, the great flaw- to my decidely American-centric viewpoint- of gymnastics and similar Olympic competitions is the lack of objective measure. When Michael Phelps, Tyson Gay, 8-men sculling teams, or others race, there's an objective element: without any input from the commentators, you know if someone is "faster", and can measure performances from heats or finals between Olympics. But when events are judging-based, some of the routines being done now are not insignificantly more complicated than something Comaneci or Retton would do 20 or 30 years ago, yet wouldn't have gotten a "10" in the system used in the Olympics.

I still think there's a shortcoming that there isn't a clear sense of when a routine is "good", as even subjective objectivity can be severely flawed- one of the gymnasts I saw, I think the tiny one (Shawn Johnson?), killed a balance beam routine and seemed to get no higher a score than anyone else, with the commentators noted that "she was robbed". As a wholly unskilled viewer, we all saw how much more stable she seemed than the previous US gymnast seemed, but how do we know who's "winning"?

That said, I rather like that at least the difficulty level is considered as a raw number: attempting something significantly harder, and having only a couple of slip-ups, gets more value than doing something easier, flawlessly. This is after all the system that has worked reasonably well in diving for quite some time: if you attempt something very difficult, but are not quite perfect, you're still better than someone nailing something considerably easier.

Some friends were over for a movie night last night (aside: Harold & Kumar 2 was so atrociously bad we canceled it after 10 minutes and ordered "In Bruges" from On Demand, which was highly entertaining), and before we started the movie we happened to catch some women's (girls?) gymnastics on TV. There was a lack of clarity on the part of the casual viewer when we were seeing a "great" routine versus a "good" one, and that same lack of clarity existed with the commentators. But seeing the "difficulty" rating almost immediately gave us a sense of how much more difficult a 6.4 or 7.0 routine might be, and we kind of could tell that certain moves seemed a great deal more challenging than others. We still didn't understand exactly how points were deducted, but on the whole the system seemed fairer; the gymnasts were doing more or less difficult routines and thus the strategy of "shoot for the moon and fail trying versus the 'safe route'" was in play.
posted by hincandenza at 4:19 AM on August 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Uh... that's a long winded way of saying that the new system seems fairer, because every "trick" has a value that comprises your score, and hitting/missing a trick has a more tangible and objective way of being measured. Sorry, I've had a lot to drink tonight and two really tasty pot cookies (peanut butter & chocolate chip) so I'm not really cogent.
posted by hincandenza at 4:26 AM on August 12, 2008


See, the great flaw- to my decidely American-centric viewpoint- of gymnastics and similar Olympic competitions is the lack of objective measure.

I'm Canadian--that is, a country that usually does very well at subjective events (especially in the Winter Olympics; figure skating, aerials, etc)--and I firmly agree. Frankly, a large part of me feels that if it cannot be objectively measured with a stopwatch (swimming, say) or a measuring tape (long jump) or obvious scoring (volleyball), it shouldn't be in the Olympics. Fencing has addressed this issue somewhat; competitors may ask judges to check video replay after each call. Which should be allowed in any sport that requires judgement calls, fouls, whatever.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:44 AM on August 12, 2008


Dirtynumb hit the nail on the head with this one. I'm a musician, not an athlete, so I understand the time, passion and dedication part, but am still in sheer awe of the end result. Hate the coverage, hate Costas, hate the stupid athlete bios.. don't hate the competition itself! The athletes might actually like the new scoring system as it more clearly represents the difficulty seperate from execution. And did you see the USA mens team on high bar? It was RIDICULOUS!
posted by ChickenringNYC at 5:45 AM on August 12, 2008


Objectivity is great in science. Works well for interpolation, not so good for extrapolation.

Creativity pushes beyond the boundaries of what was previously considered possible.

I live in Indiana, I love basketball, and we'uns have been burned by 'subjective' referee calls many times. But I still love to watch the games, for the creativity, the unexpected and beautiful.

There are many objective sports, like weightlifting, and that's a good thing. But to say more subjective determinations should be disallowed is akin to saying jazz isn't music since it doesn't always fall in line with the metronome.
posted by dragonsi55 at 6:01 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Were the gymnasts smaller then?
posted by unknowncommand at 6:23 AM on August 12, 2008


> Frankly, a large part of me feels that if it cannot be objectively measured with a stopwatch (swimming, say) or a measuring tape (long jump) or obvious scoring (volleyball), it shouldn't be in the Olympics.

Amen, brother.

> But to say more subjective determinations should be disallowed is akin to saying jazz isn't music since it doesn't always fall in line with the metronome.

That's not the problem. The problem is that one man's 9.8 is another man's 9.9, which leads to problems when human infalibility, politics, bribes and/or personal biases enter the picture. Which they do. Every. Single. Olympics.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:24 AM on August 12, 2008


Losing the perfect 10 scoring seems to reflect badly on the judges. "Spurred in part by the judging errors at the 2004 Olympics". It's a pity their doing a lesser job ends up being less fun for the athletes and the audience.

The other thing that reflects poorly on the judges was all the freaking scoring delays last night...holy crap, I understand it's not that easy to do the scoring and to do it quickly, but nobody (viewers OR athletes) wants to be sitting around while you point at a tv screen... Get your act together! (Yeah, yeah, slow and right is better than quick and wrong, but still. It's the world's biggest stage -- you should be able to pull of quick and right.)
posted by inigo2 at 6:44 AM on August 12, 2008


Last night was the first time I was even aware of the new scoring system, and it threw me off a little bit. I was used to the old system, of course, and it was easy to have a benchmark for every routine.

A different idea is not the same as a bad idea; it may just take some time to get used to. I do like the idea of additional points being awarded for a higher difficulty. It's true that some athletes may push themselves to attempt feats that could be dangerous if they're not trained properly. I think that's outweighed by the gymnasts that can execute them well. A greater skill should be rated higher simply because it takes more training and talent to perform it correctly and beautifully.

However, I think that over time, the overall scoring may increase as the judges become more comfortable with the process, especially since some of the score is based on artistry and composition. One judge may score a particular routine higher than a similar routine scored by a different judge at a different composition (assuming difficulty and execution are the same), and that seems to be the main flaw to me. I'm not sure that there will ever be a truly objective scoring system, though. We are human after all.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 7:12 AM on August 12, 2008


So, do judges get some sort of brief on what's in a routine ahead of time? I'm asking not just about this year, but ever.

It seems that it would be completely necessary now, as it will take awhile to add up everything for the "difficulty" score.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:50 AM on August 12, 2008


According to my friend, who is a former D1 college gymnast and current gymnastics coach, the new scoring reflects a shift in the sport over the past two decades from a focus on subjective artistic elements of a routine to a technical focus on elements with a high pure difficulty. In the past, a technically easier routine performed with style and grace might outscore a routine with higher difficulty that was performed more mechanically. Now, this doesn't happen--you can see when you watch the current Olympics how all the gymnasts 'rush' rather mechanically through purely artistic elements, and the focus of the routines and the commentary is on technical difficulty and technical errors, rather than subjective elements. Compare Comaneci's beam performance with that of a top performance on beam today: Comaneci has distinctly fewer technical elements and distinctly more stylistic elements, and her performance is more fluid like that of a dancer, while the top beam routines of today are more difficult and focused on raw athletic ability rather than aesthetics. The new scoring makes the differences in the technical elements more transparent in the judge's scoring, which is good because those elements have become so overwhelmingly important.
posted by Kwine at 7:52 AM on August 12, 2008


Attach little motion-capture balls to the gymnasts, then let a computer do the judging.

I wonder if it'll ever come to this?
posted by LordSludge at 8:05 AM on August 12, 2008


roll truck roll: I think so, as one of the announcers pointed out that only three female gymnasts (two Chinese women and Nastia Liukin) "have" 7.7 difficulty routines on the uneven bars. So the judges at least know in advance what the routine is SUPPOSED to be.
posted by The Bellman at 8:09 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, Metafilter, super cynical on the Olympics.

What? I didn't see any cynicism on this thread before your comment.

roll truck roll: there's a code of points for each skill, and the nine most difficult skills, plus the dismount, are what is scored. There are two judges for each event; one adds up all the difficulty points, and the other judge evaluates the performance and takes deductions. They may know the routines in advance, since most of these routines will have been used all season; however, gymnasts may sub in an easier skill if they haven't been hitting it in practice, or have a recent injury. However, I think it's unlikely the judges have a list, because for one, it's very hard to read words and watch a routine. When I coached gymnastics, we'd have little "for fun" competitions where the coaches would judge. All you can really do is make little tic marks, then add them up afterward.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:53 AM on August 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Every athlete at the Games has done more to fulfill a life's dream than most of us can even pretend to. Have a little respect.

There's no need to degrade ourselves in order to respect the accomplishments of others. Just because your little dreams don't get you on national TV doesn't mean your life is not fulfilling, or you are only pretending. The awesome thing here - one of the neatest things in life for any of us - is getting a chance to take a break from the drama and cheer each other on for a little while. So yeah, let's do that.
posted by Bokononist at 9:09 AM on August 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


I wrote a piece in Slate praising the new system.
posted by escabeche at 9:27 AM on August 12, 2008


Were the gymnasts smaller then?
Smaller and younger. Nadia was 14 at the 1976 Games; today a female gymnast has to be 16 years old in order to compete. (Or her 16th birthday has to fall within a certain time frame, etc.) I remember being amazed by Nadia's routine in 1976, but now it's sort of "meh." She only has one E-level skill (the aerial cartwheel directly to the backhandspring). Compare her routine to that of Carly Patterson in 2004. Today's girls are expected to do more power tumbling and more difficult tricks, which is why they're so much more muscular than the girls in 1976.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:28 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


nobody (viewers OR athletes) wants to be sitting around while you point at a tv screen... Get your act together!

That's funny, in my competitve days (not elite, but the division system is different now, too, I don't even understand it--in my day we had Class III, II, I, elite) the scoring took MUCH longer (although I didn't watch last night, maybe the delays were significant.

Also, I totally agree with Kwine--the girls from the 70s and 80s seemed much more graceful--these girls today have routines that are INCREDIBLEY difficult but on beam and floor their dance moves don't seem to be dance-y at all. On floor, the music seems almost irrelevant at times (though I haven't watched a lot, maybe there is some variation).
posted by Pax at 9:33 AM on August 12, 2008


Also, the uneven bars used to be set close enough together that you held onto the top bar and your hips could rest on the bottom bar. Today they set them really far apart and do these insane release moves that you only saw men do back in the day.
posted by Pax at 9:36 AM on August 12, 2008


Attach little motion-capture balls to the gymnasts, then let a computer do the judging.

The Diamond Age is finally upon us! Or at least it will be, if we implant those motion-capture balls under the skin. The ones they use today just don't cut it.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 9:44 AM on August 12, 2008


And if we're going to talk about perfection..
Sarajevo, 1984. Torvill & Dean . Bolero


Speaking of Bolero and perfect 10s..

What about Bo Derek from the 1979 100-meter beach run?
posted by Kabanos at 9:49 AM on August 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Now, this doesn't happen--you can see when you watch the current Olympics how all the gymnasts 'rush' rather mechanically through purely artistic elements

If this means that the women will stop standing there waving their arms around and do more jumping and shit, more's the better.

Because I do not want to be exposed to women standing there waving their arms around. Nor do I find it "artistic."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:51 AM on August 12, 2008


Give Olga Korbut some love.
posted by Skot at 9:58 AM on August 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


That's funny, in my competitve days (not elite, but the division system is different now, too, I don't even understand it--in my day we had Class III, II, I, elite) the scoring took MUCH longer (although I didn't watch last night, maybe the delays were significant.

I'll be honest, I don't watch that much gymnastics outside of olympics, but it seemed longer than usual to me; the announcers will complaining a lot, anyways.
posted by inigo2 at 10:08 AM on August 12, 2008


"..will complaining"? Really? "WERE" complaining, obviously...
posted by inigo2 at 10:09 AM on August 12, 2008


I also note with some mirth that the men's magazine Perfect 10 folded this year.

Regarding the lack of dance moves—Good. Those were always cheesy interruptions in the part of gymnastics that I always found amazing, those super flips and twists and somersaults.

Of course, I'm also someone who advocates for a naked Olympics in order to neutralize the effect of the new swimwear advances. And because I think seeing hot athletes totally naked and rocking out at their sports would be good for the world. Common humanity, etc.
posted by klangklangston at 10:09 AM on August 12, 2008


Were the gymnasts smaller then?

Yes, unknowncommand. This article is from 2004 but discusses the changing height and weight of Olympic gymnasts. I think Svetlana Boginskaya is so graceful because she is so tall - she has more limb with which to make such elegant shapes.
posted by goo at 11:00 AM on August 12, 2008


I remember being amazed by Nadia's routine in 1976, but now it's sort of "meh."

I'm always a little surprised by Nadia's beam score in the '76 Olympics, because her leaps are pretty weak, even though the rest of the routine is solid and beautifully executed. She's a better dancer in the 1980 Olympics, IMO.

I recently watched Nellie Kim's compulsory routine for the 1980 Olympics. That routine was the level 8 or 9 girls compulsory a little over 10 years later (sorry, it was a long time ago that I was a gymnastic coach, exact details are hazy now). Not only did the athletes make huge strides in ability in that time, but the equipment did too; spring/power floors, for example, helped change floor routines considerably.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:12 AM on August 12, 2008


Were the gymnasts smaller then?

Yes, unknowncommand. This article is from 2004 but discusses the changing height and weight of Olympic gymnasts. I think Svetlana Boginskaya is so graceful because she is so tall - she has more limb with which to make such elegant shapes.


I remember going to one of many coaches' conferences and hearing that female gymnasts have to be taught all the hardcore twisting and flipping skills before they hit puberty, because puberty made formerly fearless girls more cautious. This was from a top level coach, though I don't remember which one. Who knows how true that actually is, but that was the accepted wisdom back in the early 90's. So that partly drove the desire for tiny young gymnasts, but also the fact that it's much easier to tumble if you don't have long limbs to slow you down.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:24 AM on August 12, 2008


Regarding the lack of dance moves—Good. Those were always cheesy interruptions in the part of gymnastics that I always found amazing, those super flips and twists and somersaults.

I hear you, but some of those Soviets and Romanians in the 80s and 90s really had it all. A really well put together routine with music that actually made sense is really a sight.

And I'm all for the naked. Tradition, you know.
posted by Pax at 11:30 AM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I find all those dance moves, curtsies, and flailing hands during beam and floor excercise twee and unnecessary. I wish they'd cut those out as well as take away the music and focus on skill.
posted by pieoverdone at 11:36 AM on August 12, 2008


A mathematician explains the genius of the new gymnastics scoring system. Even if, like me, you're not into gymnastics, this article is worth a read because it includes a YouTube link of a figure skater named Surya Bonaly ending her amateur career at the 1998 Olympics flipping off the judges by landing a backflip on one skate and finishing her routine with her back to them. Gotta love attitude like that.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:09 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


The men's floor exercise already omits music while the women's includes it -- and I think that's a good distinction. I'd prefer that the men's competition be about power and objective execution of skills and the women's competition be more about grace and more subjective (artistic) execution. They're both amazing to me, just different. But if you find the artsy stuff to be silly**, then stick with the men's competition.

** Yeah, rhythmic gymnastics goes too far artsy for my tastes. (I might watch naked rhythmic...)
posted by LordSludge at 12:25 PM on August 12, 2008


"I'd prefer that the men's competition be about power and objective execution of skills and the women's competition be more about grace and more subjective (artistic) execution. They're both amazing to me, just different. But if you find the artsy stuff to be silly**, then stick with the men's competition."

Pish-tosh. There's nothing about men that means they can't be graceful, and nothing about women that means that they're better suited for grace. Limiting by gender is silly.
posted by klangklangston at 1:29 PM on August 12, 2008


I don't see such a hard line distinguishing tumbling skill from dance elements in a gymnastics routine. After all, keeping your toes pointed attractively or filling transitional moments between power moves with something more than a roll over and a grunt adds greatly to the challenge. It's part of the form and execution. I would actually rather the FX routines add more length to allow for more varied tempo and expression.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:15 PM on August 12, 2008


Hey, The Card Cheat: the author of that Slate article linked to it himself, in this thread, up above. :)

I enjoyed that article because it talked a little more about the details of the scoring. And honestly, that scoring system sounds very, very sensible: the judges have apparently the list of maneuvers ahead of time, and their point value. You get the top 10 difficulties summed up, you can't get repeat scores (i.e., perfect one utterly amazing trick and do it 10 times), and while one panel is noting whether you did the routines expected (or adjusting the score if you do a last-minute removal of a maneuver, or replacement with an easier one), another panel is deducting for mistakes made in the routine. Pulling off flawlessly only a double instead of the expected triple spin shouldn't be a deduction of points from the B score, but should lower the A score.

So if you found ways to do tricks that were unearthly amazing (like that Olga Korbut routine Skot linked above- I watched that first crazy flip 3 times, and I'm still not quite sure what she did on that lower bar...), you have a higher potential score, but if you flub them you'll get a deduction that may erase any gains from the greater risk. There's no ceiling; if you can do 10 unearthly things in a row, perfectly, you'd get 10 + 10n, where n is the difficulty rating. Someone perfects an octuple-back-flip, bam! They're getting 3.0 or 4.0 difficulties. I guess the only question is how they determine the difficulty rating, especially for tricks that no one else can actually do or has never been seen before. I'd think there should also be a bonus of some sort for order; if you do two .7 tricks in a row as one flowing movement, that should get some kind of "continuity" bonus as it's a lot harder than doing a .7, some artistic hand-waving then set up for the next one. Or I guess you'd call it one maneuver with a 1.4 rating.

I think the one area that TV coverage would really help the sport is if they had on-screen lists or "pop-up" video of the routines as they happen. Why not list the expected maneuvers just before the routine, with their difficulties, so we the viewers could look for and appreciate the amazing stuff like the announcer in that Olga Korbut video telling us "watch this, watch this... WOW!"? Then, when the scoring is finalized, they should list what the deductions- if any- were for. That would take the mystery out of it, and very quickly I think even casual viewers would note "Oooh, she's losing .2 points from that little wobble...".

LordSludge perhaps half-jokingly says there should be motion capture balls on their limbs; actually, I think that makes perfect sense as an optional judging assist. Not motion capture balls, but perhaps small, unobtrusive pieces of IR tape around key body parts, or built into the leotard. I optimistically assume that one reason for the scoring delays might be the judges having the good sense to immediately rewatch the routine at 1/2 speed, double checking for additional deductions or removing deductions that weren't valid. A computer could assist that fairly easily, showing things like the cleanliness of the legs.

Ultimately, the judging should be so objective that even artistic routines with great flow and beauty could be broken down to both the difficulty of what they did, using objective measurements, and the deduction of points for not doing everything right (shuffle steps on the landing, wobbles, falling, poor transitions, etc) that are clearly defined and the judges are simply there to collective decide from in-person and video replay whether a maneuver was completed, and whether a mistake happened.
posted by hincandenza at 2:42 PM on August 12, 2008


if you do two .7 tricks in a row as one flowing movement, that should get some kind of "continuity" bonus as it's a lot harder than doing a .7, some artistic hand-waving then set up for the next one.

Yep, these are in there, and are called "connection value" -- they're included in the A score.
posted by escabeche at 3:08 PM on August 12, 2008


Gymnastics is great stuff. Rhythmic gymnastics, not so much.

LordSludge perhaps half-jokingly says there should be motion capture balls on their limbs; actually, I think that makes perfect sense as an optional judging assist.

I am looking forward to cheering on the Canadian Olympic contact juggling team.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:12 PM on August 12, 2008


I agree the dance-y moves often look forced, but here's a great example of what such a routine can look like in the right hands: Lilia Podkopayeva in 1996.
posted by hippugeek at 3:13 PM on August 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's the world's biggest stage -- you should be able to pull of quick and right.

No, because they are going back to video for the A score. Waiting five minutes really isn't a big deal.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:15 PM on August 12, 2008


escabeche: Yep, these are in there, and are called "connection value" -- they're included in the A score.
Huh- well, that's why I'm in favor of this system, it sounds like they've thought of these issues and probably countless more that I'd never have considered. :) Thanks for your input, and your linked article- both are very useful.
posted by hincandenza at 5:32 PM on August 12, 2008


hippugeek, that clip is incredible. That's a perfect, and gorgeous example of floor.
posted by desuetude at 8:15 PM on August 12, 2008


I find all those dance moves, curtsies, and flailing hands during beam and floor excercise twee and unnecessary. I wish they'd cut those out as well as take away the music and focus on skill.

Generally speaking, they're needed to catch one's breath, get reoriented, and be ready to do the next bit of tumbling. The dance moves help demonstrate flexibility, balance, and rhythm. Going from back handspring, one-armed back handspring, layout stepout to a very still arabesque or switch leap requires a huge amount of control and skill to manage the rhythmic change. It's really quite difficult to dance and tumble.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:18 PM on August 12, 2008


oneirodynia hits at what's liable to change a lot with the new scoring. With greater importance placed on the sheer number of high-risk moves, it seems to me that we'll see (especially in the floor competition) a major change in successful competitors. "Flexibility, balance, and rhythm" will give way to sheer strength and endurance. I suspect it will start to look much more similar to men's gymnastics.

Which is not to say that that's A Bad Thing or that competitors with more sheer strength and endurance are somehow less ladylike or somesuch thing.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:46 AM on August 13, 2008


agree the dance-y moves often look forced, but here's a great example of what such a routine can look like in the right hands: Lilia Podkopayeva in 1996.

Great example of what I was talking about. When they really can dance, it makes all the difference!
posted by Pax at 6:16 AM on August 13, 2008


The new scoring system should age a lot better than the old one. In five years, people will be getting 18s and you'll know the difficulty is harder simply due to that.
posted by smackfu at 9:43 AM on August 13, 2008


Yeah, but what happens when a judge awards a score of a million billion kajillion?
posted by JHarris at 12:19 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd think there should also be a bonus of some sort for order; if you do two .7 tricks in a row as one flowing movement, that should get some kind of "continuity" bonus as it's a lot harder than doing a .7, some artistic hand-waving then set up for the next one.

"Six move combo! 2,000 bonus!"
posted by JHarris at 12:22 PM on August 13, 2008


That article in Slate was interesting, but it didn't mention one of the downsides of scoring that encourages more difficult elements: things like we saw in the Men's All-Around last night, with guys falling off equipment left and right. I have been enjoying the gymnastics and appreciating the reduction in girly frou-frou moves from the women, but perhaps I would have preferred last night to see less-difficult routines perfectly executed.
posted by not that girl at 1:56 PM on August 14, 2008


Except, y'know, that's not what I was saying. Here's an idea.. why don't you read what I actually wrote? Just a thought.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:27 PM on August 17, 2008


Since reading doesn't seem to be your strong suit?

I was actually advocating for separating criticism of athletes from criticism of those who use them for their own self-aggrandizement.

But, you know, simply reading what I had originally written would have told you that.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:17 PM on August 17, 2008


Well perhaps if you would actually read what I write, then--here's a thought--maybe I wouldn't get pissed off about people not reading what I write?

Naaa. That wouldn't make any sense.

It was obvious to anyone with an IQ greater than their shoe size that I was speaking specifically and only about athletes. Apparently that eluded you.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:01 PM on August 17, 2008


"Wow, its like they want you to get fed up of their stupid shit and give up."

Would be one. Endless bloody comments across the entire site saying that they're all drugged, what they do is stupid, etc would have contributed to the rest.

I didn't read the first five words of your comment and skip to the end to write my related, but not even necessarily a response, comment

It is reasonable, even expected, to believe that when someone quotes something directly that the following words are, in fact, a direct response and directly related to the quoted sentence. Or does that bit of logic elude you also?

dnab; it seems you're having trouble interacting in anything resembling a normal, conversational manner.

I have difficulty when it is clear that someone is directly responding to me without actually understanding, or even making a token effort to understand--indeed, appearing to deliberately misunderstand what I have said. Which is depressingly common around here. Call it victim bullshit if you want; if I didn't want to disturb their privacy I could point you towards a couple dozen people in my inbox who agree that people around here very deliberately misconstrue what I say because they get some sort of joy over pissing me off.

Perhaps you weren't doing it on purpose. I seriously doubt it, but if you weren't, fine, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Protip: gonna quote someone? Yeah, they're going to think, rightly, that you are responding directly to their statement.

We done? Good.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:47 PM on August 17, 2008


Wow. Simple logic really is beyond you.

When you quote someone verbatim and then make a comment, it is obvious that you are responding to that comment. This is how online conversation tends to work. Get over yourself.

Deliberately misunderstanding people is what is anathema to functional discussion on this site. Now, kindly, leave me the fuck alone.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:13 AM on August 18, 2008


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