Olympics: Tie-fighters


Tom Fox : MCT


That’s it. Women’s gymnastics is KILLING ME. HONESTLY. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it does.

Tonight women’s all-around gold medalist Nastia Liukin took to the uneven bars for individual competition. He Kexin, who I refuse to believe is older than 12, is up first and does a really beautiful routine. It was. I won’t deny it. She gets a 16.725.

But then, THEN, our graceful little beauty Nastia Liukin hits the bars, undoubtedly one of her strongest events, and does wonderfully. She also received a 16.725.


When the rankings show up, Nastia is ranked second place. Not also first place, just listed second, but actual second place. WHAAAA? Nastia is just as confused as viewers. Here, let NBC explain it to you:

A complete score is now made up of two parts, A and B. The first, the A score, or the start value, is an assigned degree of difficulty.I n this instance, both He and Liukin had the same start value, 7.7.

The second part of a score, the B score, is an execution score. Six judges vote. The high and the low are tossed per the rules.

That leaves four scores. Those four are averaged. That average becomes the B score. Add the A and B together and you get a complete score.

In this instance, both He and Liukin got 16.725.

Thus: onto tiebreakers.

The first tiebreak is the B score. Here both got the same B score, 9.025.

The next tiebreak: the judges drop the next highest deduction. That obviously leaves three judges’ scores instead of four — or to be precise, the marks those three judges gave for deductions.

Here, the average of those three judges’ deductions for He: .933. For Liukin: .966.

Liukin had a greater deduction. Thus she was second.

Another way of getting to that math: Take the B scores of the three judges from that second tie-break, add them together and divide by three.

The math for He: 9.1, 9.1, 9.0. That equals 27.2. Divide that by three, and that equals 9.066, the sixes stretching out to infinity.

For Liukin: 9.1, 9.0, 9.0. That equals 27.1. Divide that by three and it’s 9.0333, the threes going out forever.

Thus she was second.

Perhaps you’re like me, and math isn’t your strong suit. Maybe this visual will help.

Still no? Well that’s because it makes absolutely no sense.

At least Bela understands my pain. “[It’s] adding to the brewing controversy and frustration of the athletes and the viewers,” he told Bob Costas. “I believe the latest is this introducing and accepting a tie-breaking procedure that is unfair and absolutely ridiculous.”

He also added, “The lack of competence of certain judges is obvious.”


It wasn’t all bad news, though. After the jump, we’ll round up our reactions to the rest of Monday’s primetime broadcast.

A lot of Monday’s broadcast featured events I care very little about (beach volleyball and lots of running, running, running). I know it’s hard and I really respect what these athletes do, but, honestly, it’s hard to get worked up over hurdles. Plus, they weren’t finals, which makes them even more anticlimactic.

BUT! There were two of my favorite ridiculous events: trampoline and pole vaulting. Again, very difficult sports, but c’mon, don’t you find them at least a little bit silly?

The trampoline was particularly entertaining. Again, the gold went to a Chinese athlete (He Wenna), but she was obviously at least 16 (not even sure if that’s a rule here, but WHATEVER), so I’m more than happy to support her. Wenna’s routine was gorgeous and, if you like gymnastics, you’d appreciate this too. Mostly because they do a lot of the same moves except WAY higher in the air. If it were an SAT question, I suppose it would go something like “Hockey : Rollerball; Gymnastics : Trampoline.” Seriously, any time I can namecheck Rollerball is awesome.

The pole vaulting gold came down to Russian Yelen Isinbayeva and American Jenn Stuczynski. Isinbayeva, as we learned in a hilarious package earlier in the evening, is something like Paris Hilton. “How beautiful I am?” she asks the camera. “She lives in luxury in Monte Carlo,” the voice over tells us. And twice she tells us she likes nice dresses.

But it matters not. She sets a new world record and takes the gold.

Now here’s where things get a little strange. Jenn turns to her coach after getting the news and he’s not exactly supportive. He rattles off insults like “You weren’t on,” “You didn’t have the legs” and lots of “What’re you gonna do?” all the while being distracted by his mobile. For real, dude? She did win the silver. Relax. Even the commentators call it accusatory and inappropriate.

Unfortunately there was no Mary Carillo tonight, but we did get a sweet little package about all us sad Americans staying up late to watch the games. An NBC doctor offered these tips:

– Stay hydrated

– You only need four hours of sleep

– Wear sunglasses to hide red eyes

– Crank anything Michael Phelps listens to into your iPod

– Skip work

– Read Tubular

OK, OK we made up the last part. But in our professional, television-addicted opinions, it won’t hurt.

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