6 replies on “Hamm’s Gold Was in Error, but He’ll Keep It”

  1. You need to preface articles like this with ‘The NY Times is reporting (left nut and bone marow sample requiried). . .’

    I don’t exactly get the error. How do you screw it up? The article didn’t really explain. It said that the start value was 9.9 instead of 10, but they assumed that we knew what the author was talking about. Eh, there’s always stuff like this at every Olympics. It must bite for the athletes because they have to wait four years to retry.

  2. No, I don’t need that, because: a) I’m not Slashdot; b) You can use bugmenot.com. The error is that the routine could be scored out of a maximum of 9.9, so he could not possibly have gotten higher then that. If it could have been scored out of 10.0 and if he had gotten that extra 0.10, he would have beat Hamm.

  3. Every event in gymnastics at the elite level has certain requirements that gymnasts must fulfill. Meeting just those requirements creates a routine valued out of an 8.6 (8.8 for women, I believe). That means if the routine is done absolutely perfectly, it will score an 8.6. Beyond that, gymnasts get bonus points by doing difficult elements or combinations of difficult elements. The goal is to bring the routine up to a start value of 10.0, as determined by two judges whose job it is to determine start value. The other five judges take deductions as they see them, and then someone applies those deductions to the start value, drops the high and the low, and averages the rest. Sounds simple, right?

    Take the case of a double back on parallel bars (between the two bars, the gymnast lands on his arms). This can be done in tuck or in pike, with each position having a different value for difficulty. What if a gymnast means to do it in pike for higher difficulty, but bends his knees throughout the skill? Do you give him the higher difficulty but take a form deduction, or give him the lower difficulty without form deductions? I haven’t watched the men’s competition since the night of the Olympics, but I believe there were a few similar elements in Young’s routine. Some important gymnastics higher ups reviewed the routine and determined the start value should have been a 10, but that doesn’t automatically mean he gets that 0.1 back. (The start value judges from that night have been reprimanded and won’t judge the event finals.)

    Any score protest must come before the end of the rotation. To protest two days later screams “sour grapes,” but that’s a whole other discussion. Korea has never been a strong gymnastics country – these two gymnasts should be proud to take home two all around medals from the Olympics. (On that note, you might make a strong argument that their biggest mistakes were not made on Monday night, but last year at the World championships when they didn’t make a name for themselves, because face it, name means a lot in gymnastics.)

  4. So two judges determined that he had done a good lower difficulty thing while the other five decided that he did a poor high-difficulty thing? It seems like a weird way of scoring.

    I don’t think it is sour grapes. If they should have won, they deserve to (I’m still not sure about the scoring). It’s probably one of those situations where they would have been amazingly happy if you told them before the Olympics that they were going to get the silver, but once they got the silver it was so close to gold (1 away) and yet so far away in prestige and so they think they deserve or just want that tiny bit better which is so much better. I’m sure it seems like the easiest thing to them for the Olympic Committee to simply give them golds as well and that there is a strong case to justify it.

    For instance, I’m sure there are a lot of prefrosh who apply to Yale and Harvard amoung many other schools. They would love to go to either and if you guaranteed them an in to Yale they would be in jubilation, but once they get into Yale and not Harvard, all of a sudden Yale is beneath them and Harvard is above them rather than Yale still being a reach or even just right fit.

  5. The difficulty of elements isn’t the only issue, though if seven judges can’t agree if you are in a pike a or tuck position, clearly something is wrong with the element. Other issues with the routine were connections between elements. US coaches -admittedly a biased source – actually agree about the start value error, but say there are other errors in the connections that warrant a deduction. (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/23/sports/olympics/23gym.html) Point is, however you want to look at it, the routine was not a 9.8 routine. 9.7 was the right score for that routine, even if the way they arrived at the score is a bit, uh, suspicious.

    If the Korean officials were concerned about the incorrect start value, they would and should have protested it at the end of the rotation. This is their way of grubbing a few extra hundredths of a point days after the event.

  6. Kelli, for what it’s worth, and I don’t know if it’s worth a lot, NBC agrees with your assessment that the Korean fellow should not have gotten the gold, even if the start value had been higher. The commentators were arguing it fairly strongly throghout today’s events, or at least the pieces that I caught. Once I heard about today’s scoring error, I went and caught that one. Wowch. Poor Paul Hamm, poor Russian dude. What a mess.

    Addendum: NBC has just posted a wrap-up by Daggett. Headline: Daggett on event finals: judging was ‘abysmal’.

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