Olympic Women’s Gymnastics for Dummies


Many gymnastics fans (I was one of them!) only watch gymnastics on an Olympic year. It makes sense. Gymnastics is hard to find on TV. But now, thanks to social media and the internet, gymnastics is easier than ever to follow. So, if you are just rejoining the elite gymnastics world, rejoice! It will be much easier to follow gymnastics! In the meantime, here are some things to help you catch up.

I’m still confused by the scoring system!

Many people are. Here’s how it works.

  • First you have the D Score– D is for difficulty. The judges add up the value of the elements done in the routine. This includes basic requirements, the value of the skills in their routine and bonus points for connecting skills together. The D scores tend to be between 5.5 and 6.5 (ish) at the Olympic level. Of course you have some lower and some higher.
  • Then there’s the E score– E is for execution. This is like the perfect 10 of old. You start at a 10 and are deducted for mistakes. These deductions are larger than they used to be, so this is why these scores are much lower than they used to be.
  • Then you add the two together and get your final score.

How will the Olympics Work?

Things will kick off on Sunday with Prelims. This year only five members are allowed on each Olympic gymnastics team. Four of those five members will compete on each event, and the scores obtained at prelims will qualify them on for the rest of the competitions. These are team finals (Tuesday), all-around finals (Thursday) and event finals (Next Sunday, Monday and Tuesday). Only two gymnasts per country are allowed on to each of the individual competitions.

When Can I See Gymnastics?

This year NBC will be live streaming every Olympic competition on NBCOlympics.com if you have a qualified cable subscription. It is VERY important to verify your sign in before things get started! Do that here. Not only can you watch it live, you can choose which event stream to watch and catch every routine you want to see! USA Prelims will be at 9:45am EST on Sunday, Team Finals 11:30am EST on Tuesday and All-Around Finals at 11:30am EST on Thursday. All events will be on Prime Time that evening on NBC.

What are our chances in London?

The US won the 2011 World Championships by a huge margin. We have incredible depth in the all around as well as a large advantage on vault. There’s this magical vault called the Amanar that has an extra 1/2 twist than the vault most gymnasts are competing. It adds .7 to the start value (the D Score of vault). Most countries are struggling to have any gymnasts that can currently perform the vault. The US will perform an amanar for every vault counted during the Olympics.  That ends up being a 2.1 advantage over most other countries in Team Finals if they aren’t able to put up Amanars. But there are a lot of Amanar rumors going on from other countries. In addition, the US has been weak on bars. The US has great chances. But the competition will be fierce this year.

Who is our team competition?

For a deeper run down, check out my post Who’s Who in 2012: The Team Contenders.

Russia was incredibly strong in 2010. The USA dominated in 2011. Russia’s amazingly fierce and talented Aliya Mustifani was out last year and their other top gymnast was not at her peak. With both of them back, plus a strong new senior there is every expectation that they can bring a battle for gold. Romania has come from behind and is putting the pressure on. They beat Russia at the European Championships this year and just keep getting better. China continues to be strong. Not as strong as they looked in Beijing, but they still factor in to the mix.

Check out these posts if you are interested in Who’s Who in the all-around or on vault, bars, beam or floor.

Who are the USA’s gymnasts?

This American generation is incredibly strong and the five member team is made up of young gymnasts. However, they all have a lot of international experience and four of the five were part of last years World Championship team.  This team of rookies took Worlds by storm. Even with the last minute loss of their team leader, they had one of the most dominate performances in a long time, hitting every single routine in prelims and in team finals. All but one of the 2008 team made a run for this Olympics, but with the strength and depth of these young gymnasts, were not able to make the team. Follow the link for a more in depth write up on each gymnast.

Jordyn WieberJordyn is in her second season as a senior and is the current World Champion. She competes some of the most difficult skills in the world with dynamic precision and impeccable form. Her weakest event is bars, if you can call an event where you make world finals weak. Jordyn is mentally tough and focused. Her biggest challenge this year will be the pressure of being the one everyone is trying to beat. She will compete all-around in Prelims and Team Finals and will be looking to win the all-around gold. She might make a few event finals as well.

Gabrielle DouglasGabby is also in her second year as a senior. She is phenomenal on bars. She SWINGS bars with incredible fluidity, beautiful lines and high flying tricks. Gabby was a bit unpredictable on the other events last year, but really came into her own this year, upgrading on every event, and competing with a new confidence and poise. She capped off the season by winning the Olympic Trials. Gabby will compete all-around in Prelims and will be looking to win the all around gold. She will definitely be competing bars in the Team Finals, and the other events will most likely be decided depending on how Prelims go.

Alexandra RaismanAly is in her third season as a senior and is our USA rock. She is so steady and comes through with performances that look just like she practices. She is phenomenal on floor and great on vault and beam. Bars is her nemesis and keeps her from fighting for the gold. Aly continues to improve her form and has some major upgrades on floor- doing some of the most difficult tumbling in the world. She will do all around in the prelims and will most likely be used on beam and floor in Team Finals and possibly vault. Aly will also be looking to challenge for a gold on floor.

McKayla MaroneyMcKayla is another second year senior and is the current World Vault Champion. She does the infamous amanar with such ease, grace and an explosion of power, it is in a class of its own. She also has a beautiful, artistic floor routine with lots of difficulty. However, her landings have been fairly inconsistent.  She is on the team for one reason, vault. She will compete vault and floor in Prelims and will be looking to win the vault gold. She will compete vault in Team Finals and floor will most likely depend on how Prelims goes.

Kyla RossKyla comes into her senior year as a two time Jr. National Champion. She particularly shines on bars and beam but is also great on vault. Though Kyla can hold her own in the all-around and on vault in most places, she comes in fourth in the all around and fifth on vault on this team. She will be competing bars and beam in the Prelims and undoubtedly in the Team Finals. She will be hoping to qualify for event finals on those two events as well.

All Athlete Pictures Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

This year could be one of the most exciting years in gymnastics history. Make sure and tune in!

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