Olympic Gymnastics 2012: McKayla Maroney Vault Earns Silver, Scoring Confusion

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Olympic Gymnastics 2012: McKayla Maroney Vault Earns Silver, Scoring Confusion
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

McKayla Maroney seemingly has been the unsinkable ship of Team USA women's gymnastics, with her flawless and unbeatable vault.

The ship didn't sink but rather wobbled Aug. 5, when Maroney fell on her second vault and won the silver medal in the individual event.

Yes, this is stunning—a shock and an upset.

The fall should not be the shock, though; rather the shock should be the fact that Maroney still took the silver.

How can someone fall on their bottom during a vault, yet still win the silver medal?

Not many people would be able to pull that off, but they are not McKayla Maroney. Her Amanar vault is untouchable and she nailed that, even though it was not perfect. She still scored a 15.866.

Then, during her second vault the unthinkable happened. It was a less-difficult vault ,and she landed on her bottom. I have never seen Maroney miss a vault—I don't know if anybody has. The score of a 14.300 was probably her lowest score ever.

If someone falls in gymnastics, it would seem like they should be done and knocked off the medal stand. But as in Maroney's case, she was still able to handily win silver, and she still even had a shot to win gold.

Maroney scored so highly on her first vault, a score that was seemingly untouchable. The two scores were averaged, and her average (15.866) was high enough to pull off silver, even potentially gold.

Gymnastics has a disconnect in scoring that makes the sport difficult to understand.

The average Olympics viewer isn't a gymnastics expert and doesn't understand all of the intricate rules. It's even hard for a regular gymnast to understand all the rules because they change enough. For example, under the new tiebreaker rules, Nastia Liukin would have been able to share the gold medal in the uneven bars from Beijing.

The tiebreaker rules do come into play more often than someone would think. They already have been used three times during this year's gymnastics competitions, and there are still seven individual medal events left. Aly Raisman was edged out of the bronze in the individual all-around finals because the judges dropped the gymnasts' lowest score. Britain's Louis Smith also was knocked off the gold medal stand on pommel horse because his execution value was lower than Krisztian Berki of Hungary.

This year's gymnastics competition has been rather hard for the typical viewer and even experts to understand. I speculate that, after all the confusion, at least some changes will be made for Rio in 2016.

However, the current rules still stand for this year and with two more days of event finals, who knows what can happen.

You can contact Emily Bayci by e-mailing emilybayci@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @EmilyBayci.

 

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