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How to Understand the Scoring System

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The first perfect ten in Olympic history was scored by Nadia Comaneci of Romania, on uneven bars during the compulsory round at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. The last perfect ten in Olympic history was scored by Lavinia Milosovici, also of Romania, in the floor exercise event finals at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Now, gone is the perfect ten. Starting in 2006, the FIG unveiled a brand new scoring system. This new scoring system continues to confuse people, especially casual fans who only watch gymnastics during the Olympics. I'll do my best to break it down in the plainest English possible so everyone understands.

The D-Score

The new system consists of two numbers, a D-score and an E-score. The D is for difficulty, which is the start value of the routine. It's calculated from the value of each skill performed plus five tenths for every requirement on each apparatus, and connection bonus. Each skill in the Code of Points has a value from A to G (or I on floor exercise), which is translated into tenths.

A = 0.1
B = 0.2
C = 0.3
D = 0.4
E = 0.5
F = 0.6
G = 0.7
H = 0.8
I = 0.9

The top 8 most difficult elements are added together, with the connection bonus and 2.5 points for fulfilling each requirement to create a start value.

flight from high bar to low bar = 0.5
flight from low bar to high bar = 0.5
flight element on same bar = 0.5
close bar elements = 0.5

For beam and floor, a minimum of three acrobatic skills, three dance skills, and two optional skills must be counted.

connection of two dance elements (one must be a 180 degree split) = 0.5
turn on one foot = 0.5
acrobatic series = 0.5
acro elements forward & backward = 0.5

connection of two dance elements (one must be a 180 degree split) = 0.5
saltos forward & backward = 0.5
double saltos = 0.5
saltos with a minimum of one full twist = 0.5

Each composition requirement is worth 0.5.

Every vault already has a start value that does not need to be calculated.

Each event also has different rules for connection bonuses.

D + D (or more) = +0.1 CV
D (flight element/transition from LB to HB) + C (or more, performed on HB) = +0.2 CV
D + E (both being flight elements) = +0.2 CV

Acrobatic Connections
C/D + D (or more, without rebound) = +0.1 CV
C + C = +0.1 CV
B + E = +0.1 CV
C/D + D (or more, with rebound) = +0.2 CV
B + D (rebound forward) = +0.2 CV
B + F = +0.2 CV
Starting from B + B + C (any order) (can include mount or dismount) = +0.1 SB (series bonus)
Dance & Mixed Connections
C + C (or more) = +0.1 CV
A + C (both being turns) = +0.1 CV
D (salto) + B (dance element) = +0.1 CV
D (salto to 1 foot) + A Scale = +0.1 CV
D + D (or more) = +0.2 CV
Starting from B + B + C (any order) = +0.1 SB (series bonus)

Indirect Acrobatic Connections
B/C + D = +0.1 CV
A + A + D = +0.1 CV
C + E = +0.2 CV
D + D = +0.2 CV
A + A + E = +0.2 CV
Direct Acrobatic Connections
A + D = +0.1 CV
C + C = +0.1 CV
A + E = +0.2 CV
C + D = +0.2 CV
Mixed Connections
D (salto) + B (dance) = +0.1 CV
E (salto) + A (dance) = +0.1 CV
Turns Connections
D + B = +0.1 CV

Let's take Aly Raisman's floor exercise from the 2016 Olympics, for example.

Alexandra Raisman USA Fx AA Olympics Rio 201603:07

Alexandra Raisman USA Fx AA Olympics Rio 2016

First pass: 1½ twist (C) + Arabian double front (E) + front layout (B) [CV 0.4]
Dance element: split leap with 1½ turn (D)
Dance element: double L-turn (D)
Second pass: Arabian double pike (F) + stag jump (A) [CV 0.1]
Third pass: double layout (F)
Two connected dance elements: switch split leap (B) + split leap with full turn (D) + sissone (A)
Fourth pass: double pike (D)

The top acrobatic elements would be:
Arabian double pike - F
double layout - F
Arabian double front - E

The top dance elements would be:
split leap 1½ - D
switch split leap with full turn - D
double L-turn - D

The top optional elements (either acrobatic or dance) would be:
double pike - D
1½ twist - C

Acro skills: F + F + E
Dance skills: D + D + D
Optional skills: D + C
0.6 + 0.6 + 0.5 + 0.4 + 0.4 + 0.4 + 0.4 + 0.3 = 3.6
Connection bonus: 0.5
3.6 + 0.5 = 4.1
4.1 + 2.0 = 6.1

Aly's start value is a 6.1. In the previous Code, it was 6.6.

Start values vary for each apparatus. For example, on vault, the start value for the Amanar (2½ twisting Yurchenko) is 5.8. The hardest vault in the Code of Points is a handspring double front, which is a 6.4.

To medal on bars, the start value needs to be in the mid to high 6's. Beam and floor are pretty similar. To medal, the start value needs to be in the mid 5's to low 6's.

The E-Score

The E is for execution. The execution is out of a ten, which is simple enough to understand, so I don't need to explain that. These also vary for each apparatus, with vault being the highest-scoring event and floor being the lowest, due to the deductions gymnasts take for stepping back on their tumbling passes and pausing in the corner too long before a tumbling pass.

With the new scoring system, no one has been awarded a perfect score. A few have come close. Nastia Liukin and He Kexin were the only gymnasts to score in the 17's on uneven bars during the 2005-2008 quad. McKayla Maroney’s near-perfect vault in team finals in London had a 9.733 in execution.

And Finally

Let's go back to Aly Raisman's floor exercise. Her start value is a 6.1. Her execution score during the all-around at the Olympics was 8.833. Add them together and you get 14.933. That is her final score. (In Rio, with her 6.6 start value, her score was 15.433.)

Solid scores start at about the mid-14 range. Scores in the 15's are very good and scores in the 16's are excellent. Anything lower than 14 is considered a miss.

For the TL;DR Crowd

If you completely skipped over everything (I don't blame you, it's confusing):

  • Scores are made by adding up two numbers: the difficulty, or start value, and the execution, which is out of a 10. Final scores range from 12 to 16, depending on the start value.
  • Scores in the mid to high 14's are solid and consistent. The middle of the pack.
  • Scores in the 15's are very good. 15's win medals.
  • Scores in the 16's are exceptional. 16's win gold medals.
  • Anything lower than 14 is not good.

If a gymnast falls, they can still medal if their start values are high enough (see: Vanessa Ferrari 2006 AA, Li Shanshan 2007 BB EF, Cheng Fei 2008 VT EF, Rebecca Bross 2009 & 2010 AA, Yao Jinnan 2011 AA, Aliya Mustafina 2012 AA, McKayla Maroney 2012 VT EF).

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