10 Things a Gym-Fan Has Seen in 10 Years of the Open Ended Code

1. Real advantage for countries taking risks. Under the old code taking an extra risk in an innovative skill didn’t give gymnasts any advantage unless it was perform flawlessly, since it was the execution the one that counted the most.

For example former Soviet Union star Olessia Dudnik had an amazing routine at the 1989 World Championships beam final but since she had a poor dismount she only won the silver medal. Another example was Kui Yuan Yuan’s beam routine at the 1997 World Championships, she won bronze behind Gogean and Khorkina despite the fact that she had a much more daring routine.

2. Six Tumbling Passes. Because difficulty was worth so much more in the open ended code between 2006 and 2008 we saw gymnasts doing up to 6 tumbling passes per Floor Routine. This was quickly regulated in 2009 by limiting the maximum of tumbling passes to four.

3. Wins at World Championships or Olympics with falls. The old code, the perfect 10 code, didn’t allow gymnasts with falls to medal as there was no way to cushion the deduction with another score. Once the open ended code arrived falls were cushioned with difficulty. So just to name a few examples, these gymnasts won World/Olympic medals with falls.

  • Vanessa Ferrari won gold in the All-Around in 2006 despite a fall off the beam.
  • Jade Barbosa won bronze in the All-Around at the 2007 World Championships despite a fall on Floor Exercise.
  • Vanessa Ferrari tied Jade Barbosa for bronze in the all-around despite a fall on the uneven bars.
  • Li Shanshan tied Steliana Nistor for silver on Beam at the 2007 World Championships despite a fall.
  • Cheng Fei won bronze on vault at the 2008 Olympics despite crashing her second vault.
  • Rebecca Bross won silver (or in her case lost gold) in the all-around after falling on her last tumbling pass at the 2009 World Championships.
  • Rebecca Bross won bronze in the all-around despite falling off the beam at the 2010 World Championships.
  • Yao Jinnan won bronze (or in her case lost gold) in the all-around at the 2011 World Championships after a fall off the beam.
  • McKayla Maroney won silver (or in her case lost gold) in the 2012 Olympic vault final after sitting down her second vault.

4. Rising of the falling deductions. To give more balance to the influence each score (difficulty and execution) had, the deduction for a fall increased from 0.5 in the perfect-10 code, to a 0.8 in the 2006-2008 period to a full point since 2009.

 5. More Amanars and Produnovas.

  • The Amanar. Bescause there was a 0.7 difference between a Double Twisting Yurchenko (5.8) and an Amanar (6.5) in the new code of Points, more and more Amanars started to emerge. The Amanar was devalued to a 6.3 in 2013.
  • The Produnova. In this last quadrenium a new vault rose into prominence due to its high value in the Code of Points, the Produnova. Yamilet Peña was the first to start doing it and it got her into the vault final at the 2012 Olympics. Following her example Dipa Karmakar put India in the gymnastics map when she won India’s first gymnastics medal at a Commonwealth Games in 2014 a bronze on vault. The Produnova got her into the Olympic Vault Final in Rio 2016 where she finished fourth. At the Rio Olympic final, 41-year-old Oksana Chusovitina also showed off a Produnova; she finished 7th. The Produnova is a highly controversial vault since an error in execution could cause a gymnast to land on her head risking an injury that could involve paralysis. 

6. Changes in the uneven bars routine composition. In the old code of points the bars routines had more pirouetting elements and less releases. With the connections between releases getting more value gymnasts began structuring their routines differently. An example is Elizabeth Tweddle who competed under both code of points and you can see her uneven bars routine in 2004 involved a lot more pirouetting while in 2011 it had a completely different structure.

7. Scores of 17. When the open ended code debuted in 2006 – 2008 we rarely got to see scores climbing above 17 but one of the few times was at the qualification round of the Tianjin World Cup where both Yang Yilin and He Kexin scored over a 17. Ammends to the code starting in 2009 made marks above 17 impossible to reach. 

8. Tighter Uneven Bars Finals. The open ended code has made the Uneven Bars Final the tightest of all finals, to name an example Elizabeth Tweddle won bronze on the uneven bars at the 2012 Olympic Games with a 15.916, at the other event finals not even the gold medallists scored that high.

9. Harder to understand for sporadic fans. Among the main criticism to the open ended code of points is that sporadic fans will find hard to follow a competition since they won’t have a reference to guide them into knowing what score has the potential to medal. In the perfect 10 code everyone knew the closest to a 10 a score was the higher its chances to medal, now it depends on what event you are watching.

For example during the Olympic qualification round in Rio 2016 Rebecca Downie made a mistake on bars but after watching her score of 15.233 many would have thought she would still make it to the final what a surprise she didn’t, she was second reserve. However a score that high would have qualified her in the top 3 to the beam or floor finals, again the uneven bars final has become the tightest one.

10. New seniors don’t know what the old code was like. Finally little by little the memories of the old code are vanishing, ten years later the new seniors don’t even remember what a Perfect 10 at a World or Olympic competition was since they were only 6 when the transformation was made. 

So you dear reader, do you remember the perfect-10 code? Would you like to have it back or do you enjoy the open ended code?

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