Tag Archives: Natasha Kelley

Post Nationals Thoughts about Overscoring and Underscoring

So I have been moving for the last few days with no time to blog, but on my LONG drive I was really thinking about the score inflating at Nationals, and after reading a wonderful article that I am sure everyone has read on International Gymnast (click here for it) I have a few concerns for the US Team…

First off, I am concerned because of the obvious; what if the gymnasts are receiving false hopes about their routines? For instance, in 2006 Alicia Sacramone went to Worlds with a floor routine that was docked for missing one of her Element Groups Requirements which kept her out of Event Finals. This sucked for her! And it was unfair. Now I can’t say this happened due to score inflation at Nationals because really I don’t know. The code was SO new at that point. There were a couple of scores at 2006 Nationals that were questionable, but again I feel that maybe the problem was the newness of the code. But the point is that we don’t want this to happen to any of our favorite gymnasts! Here is a look at what I have been thinking about individually:

1. Nastia Liukin

Overscoring at Nationals: She performs bars Night One and receives a 17.050. Okay. But Night Two she perfroms a routine with a dismount ending with a near hands down and gets a 17.100. Futhermore, Night Two on Floor was a inflated as well. Nastia is not going to get a 15.850 on floor in Beijing unless she brings a beefed up A-score of like, 6.5. I don’t think anyone under that score will receive a total of 15.850. I think Nastia’s score will max out in the 15.200ish range.

In a way, I am least concerned about Nastia. I think she is one of the best prepared gymnasts ever, and YOU KNOW she is doing everything she can to prepare for Beijing! She always states how there is always something to improve on, she strives for perfection, and I don’t think too big of a score will stop her from clean up her dismount on bars, or perfecting floor.

Why inflated? I can understand wanting to keep her up with the Chinese on bars, we needed the world to know she can score a 17. But why floor? So that the Nationals AA competition can be closer? To boost Nastia’s confidence on the event? I have know idea but I think it is wrong though to give a gymnast false hopes.

2. Shawn Johnson

Overscoring at Nationals: Well, vault was one thing. A couple of tenths there. But what was up with floor? She performs Night One and gets an inflated score, then Night Two, again like Nastia, gets a HIGHER score for a worse performance. WTF? I think it is really, really, unlikely that we will see a 16 on floor in Beijing. Maybe, but I really think you have to have a 6.6 or greater. And I think Cheng Fei is the only one that will be able to do that. (We will see though, depends what she and Sandra Izbasa bring to the table in difficulty, and how Shawn hits her routine.) But what I am concerned about is why they are telling Shawn she is going to get a 6.6 with incomplete passes. That whip-triple IS NOT completed. Surely her and her coach must be aware that the pass is incomplete.

Why Inflated? With vault, I can sort of understand. Maybe they just want to encourage her on a skill she has nerves with. But I don’t feel the same with floor. That was brutally overscored, but maybe they did that to encourage the high amount of difficulty. Whatever the case is, I think it again is giving a gymnast false hopes if she performs her routine that way.

3. Alicia Sacramone

Overscoring at Nationals: Beam on day two was overscored by only a couple of tenths. I felt a little that way over floor as well. She stepped out of bounds, but I have seen that not get docked before. (Hollie Vise 2003 Nationals.)

Why Inflated? No idea.

4. Bridget Sloan

Overscoring at Nationals: I can’t actually say if there was any! I haven’t seen her Day Two performance on bars, so I don’t know. But my only concern would be IF she was overscored. We need the best possible bars team, and right now I REALLY think that Bridget and Shayla Worley are fighting over that last spot on the Olympic Team. And let’s hypothetically say that come Trials Bridget is overscored and Shalya is not, and Bridget gets a place on the team. Then say the international judges score her much harsher come Beijing, and the US Team is out of a few very valuable tenths that they can’t afford to lose.

Why Inflated? I have no idea again.


Jana Bieger was hammered by the judges. I had heard rumors prior to Nationals that this was going to happen to her, and obviously it did. I realize Jana has some form issues, but I think it is so awful what they did to her and Natasha Kelley last year. If you don’t want people on the team, DON’T SELECT THEM. Don’t bash their scores. Same thing with Ivana Hong. (Who I think has the most beautiful double front on floor that I have ever seen.) I feel like it sends the wrong message to gymnasts, and furthermore makes an even worse mockery of the new code. The new code is supposed to eliminate favortism and subjective scoring, and harshly underscoring tells me that nothing is changed. So if you are in the “IN” Club, (Nastia and Shawn) we will give you phenomenal execution scores whether or not you deserved them. But if you are in the “OUT” Club, we tell you that you did poorly. It’s just not right.



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Thoughts and Answers to Some of the Comments on this page

There’s been some questions and thoughts on the comments of this blog (which I love, love, love!)  and since I have nothing particular to share I thought I would elaborate and what not.

  • First off, why Jana Bieger has a limited chance on making the Olympic Team.  The wide consensus among gymnastics fans and experts is that Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, and Alicia Sacramone are locks for the Olympic Team.  Since the main priority is the Team Final where 3 up 3 count, the selection will cater to those 12 routines needed.  Among the first half of the squad we have:

Vault- Sacramone, Jonhson, GAP

Bars- Liukin, GAP, GAP

Beam- Johnson, Liukin, Sacramone

Floor- Jonhson, Sacramone, GAP

For the 3 remaining spots on the team, we need to fill 2 gaps on bars, and one gap apiece on vault and floor.  So our weakest showing is coming on uneven bars, which unfortunately is not good since that is China’s strongest event and they will gain at least a point on us based off their difficulty in comparison to the US.

The best solution is to put on power event gymnast, a floor and vault worker, for one spot, and fill the two remaining gaps with two bar workers.  Samantha Peszek is the best choice for spot #4 in my opinion, because she is the 3rd best on vault and now holds the highest difficulty (along with Johnson) on floor.  As another person pointed out, Peszek has had some consistency issues, but I would say Nationals/Trials will pretty much let us know.

Bieger simply does not fill any of these spots.  She is a great vaulter, but not difficult enough.  Same with floor, if she had her 2006 form back I would say she has a better shot.  Her bars difficulty is not enough either.  I do think that she is a good choice as an alternate.  I would put Chellsie Memmel in the same boat if it weren’t for the fact that she just showed a 6.9 and 16.0 scoring routine on bars.

With regards to Chelsea Davis, Darling Hill, and Mattie Larson, I would say the same thing.  Larson has a 6.0 on floor, Hill a 6.1 (I am basing these off the most recent Friendly Meet) and we have 6.2’s and higher from more experienced athletes.  Hill stil has only a yurchenko 1.5 which we need doubles at bare minimum.  For bars, we really need nothing less than a 6.7 and realistically 7.0+ is what we REALLY need.  None of these athletes can match this.  (Or can they?  Does anyone know?)  But there is also the experience factor, experienced  athletes that prove themselves have a bigger shot, though that does not have anywhere near as much pull in the decisions as the difficulty/consistency factor in my opnion.  Regardless of anything though, gymnasts may add more difficulty by Nationals.  High difficulty performed consistently throughout June is going to be what matters.

  • The selection procedures allow for more than just the top 12 from Nationals to advance to trials.  Sacarmone will have no problem proceeding to trials.  Remember in 2004, Chellsie Memmel and Hollie Vise only did two events in Trials, and neither competed at Nationals and petitioned their way in.
  • In regards to the Nastia winning the AA.  So many thoughts.  But here is where I am coming from.  I like gymnastics that are “wow” skills.  I like huge tricks performed cleanly.  Whereas Nastia’s bar routine is loaded, even her beam routine I think isn’t so much.  She has no “F” or “G” skill anywhere in her routines.  She mostly loads with “D”‘s.  “D”s are the very middle skill.  Not one of the easiest, not one of the hardest.  But good respectable skills.  (and of course, the triple off beam will add in an “F”)  This is why I like He Kexin, she does amazing releases that nearly no one does.  But she does do some pirouettes.  (Li Ya had an amazing combination of both)  Mo Huilan and Kim Gwang-Suk type routines were what really would thrill me, stuff no one tends to do.  This is why I respect Johnson so much.  Her bar routine isn’t the best, but even there she is capable of something NO ONE else can perform consistently in their repertoire.

With regards to the twisting only elements on floor, it is not that I don’t like twisting combinations, but again, I think to be really good at an event you should show variety.  Nastia does not hold enough variety for me to think she is great at that event.

In regards to the old code, you could get away with scoring too high much easier.  Let’s first establish that regardless of the code, gymnasts with the reputation so very often get the benefit of the doubt.  This applies to a lot of gymnasts.  In the old code you could also get away with only twisting elements on floor.  I realize Nastia had won numerous competitions, but in 2005 Nationals remember her floor on one day was overscored because she was given difficulty not in her routine.  The only competitions I can think of her winning under the new code, were SCAM 08′ and Nationals 06′, which caused a lot of debate because many thought Natasha Kelley should have won.

I am not saying anyone is right or wrong, I just wanted to explain where I was coming from.  I like Nastia, I just don’t think she is the best at the All-Around.  Top Ten, but not top three.  And yes, I do agree, Nastia is better at floor than Sacramone and Cheng Fei appear to be on bars.

  • Lastly, Lilia Podkopayeva was the last triple crown winner: 1995 Worlds, 1996 European and Olympic Champion.  I did think at one time that Shawn would be that if she won in Beijing, (counting 07′ Worlds and Pan Am’s) but when I think about it the Pan Am’s can’t hold a candle to the Europeans 🙂    

I wrote this in a few sections and ran away from the computer a LOT.  So if there are mad grammatical errors or totally incomplete thoughts I apologize.  I don’t have time really to blog, but I really wanted to write a new post.

Thank you everyone for all your comments and opinions.  It’s so nice to hear it all and know it’s all out there.  I think we should make a huge petition to send to NBC that we want more gymnastics coverage, and if you broadcast Beijing even close to the way you did Sydney…a lot of angry gym fans are going to come storm NBC Studios!  🙂


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