Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2006 and beyond: The Margins of Victory in WAG

For a statistician, the open-ended scoring system tuckin' tsuks.

With a rule book that changed every four years, it was already difficult to compare scores from one quad to the next. Now, it's almost impossible to compare scores from the 10.0 era with the post-2006 era.

In the past, many World champions outscored their opponents by hundredths of a point. (Or by one thousandth of a point if you're Chellsie Memmel during the all-around final in 2005) Now, gymnasts typically win by several tenths. Here's a little comparison:

Average Margin of Victory:
2006-7, 2009-11

(The last 5 Worlds under the 10.0)
Average Margin of Victory:
2006-7, 2009-11

(The first 5 Worlds under the New Code)
For the math nerds, I checked for outliers using 1.5•IQR

With the exception of floor, there's a noticeable difference. Yes, winning by hundredths still happens in the world of women's artistic gymnastics, but without a finite number of points and without a 0.05 deduction, it's no longer the norm. As I said yesterday, I believe that it's time to reset the record books for the World Championships. Below you'll find the largest margins of victory and the smallest margins of victory under the new scoring system.

For those of you who like to watch total domination occur…

The Largest Margins of Victory at the World Championships since 2006

EventYear1st Place2nd PlaceDifference
Team2011United StatesRussia4.875
All-Around2007Shawn JohnsonSteliana Nistor1.250
Vault2011McKayla MaroneyOksana Chusovitina0.567
Bars2009He KexinKoko Tsurumi1.125
Beam2011Sui LuYao Jinnan0.633
Floor2006Cheng FeiJana Bieger0.325

I think that He Kexin deserved 2 gold medals for winning an event final by over a point. That's ri-chalk-u-lous.

But the gymnastics karma gods have to keep the world in balance. So, for every huge victory comes one narrow victory…

The Smallest Margins of Victory at the World Championships since 2006

EventYear1st Place2nd PlaceDifference
Team2010RussiaUnited States0.201
All-Around2011Jordyn WieberViktoria Komova0.033
Vault2007Cheng FeiHong Su Jong0.125
Bars2007Ksenia SemenovaNastia Liukin0.050
Beam2006Iryna KrasnianskaSandra Izbasa0.075
Floor2007Shawn JohnsonAlicia Sacramone0.025

In many cases, those scores boil down to a couple judges taking a tenth where other judges did not. In other words, gymnasts, if you are reading this, POINT YOUR BLOODY TOES!

Since I'd rather watch a close competition, here's a list of the 8 closest battles for gold since 2006. You know, just in case you are a masochist and enjoy torturing yourself.

EventYear1st Place2nd PlaceDifference
Floor2009Beth TweddleLauren Mitchell0.100
Beam2006Iryna KrasnianskaSandra Izbasa0.075
Floor2011Ksenia AfanasyevaSui Lu0.067
Floor2010Lauren MitchellAliya Mustafina
Diana Chelaru
All-Around2009Bridget SloanRebecca Bross0.050
Bars2007Ksenia SemenovaNastia Liukin0.050
All-Around2011Jordyn WieberViktoria Komova0.033
Floor2007Shawn JohnsonAlicia Sacramone0.025

This is just my humble opinion, but Lauren Mitchell's floor score in 2009 should have been much lower. You can't do a wolf turn into a safety roll without counting it as a fall. That's like doing a double turn in coupé and falling into prone. Notice how she did the same routine in 2010, but she left out the candlestick safety roll.

Le sigh. I'd be the world's meanest brevet judge.

Related Posts:

2006 and beyond: The Margins of Victory in MAG
2006 and beyond: The Top Nations in WAG
2006 and beyond: The Top Nations in MAG
2006 and beyond: The Best WAG Gymnasts
2006 and beyond: The Best MAG Gymnasts


  1. I think Lauren was just updating the Kim Kelly for us. Good to see the girls reworking the classics ...

  2. People talk about the board sportsmanship of Komova... I think Alicia was much worse when she got the silver to Shawn on floor - and to her own teammate! Compare that to the way that Shawn Johnson reacted when Nastia won the All Around gold at the Olympics - much more classy.

  3. And yet STILL we end up with ties that are resolved seemingly arbitrarily.

    to Anon: Both of them acted badly--Alicia's poor sportsmanship does not mitigate Vika's. But yeah, Alicia did not do herself any favors there.

  4. I totally agrees about Mitchell and her roll/fall in 2009, as a judge I would have also counted a fall.