The idea that judges at international competitions prefer—and reward—a certain style of gymnastics is a well-known myth commentators like to repeat. Though it may seem like an intentional effort to induce a collective eye roll among gymnastics fans, is this myth valid? Do certain gymnasts receive higher scores abroad because judges prefer their style?
Princess of Sexy Data Taylor Anderson compiled the scores, and here’s what we found:
- The quintessential example, Nastia (“international” style) vs. Shawn (not “international” style), works in favor of proving this myth. From Olympic Trials to Olympics, Nastia’s AA score increased .025 with a fall on UB, Shawn’s decreased 1.025 with no falls.
- Courtney McCool, another well-known “international” style gymnast, saw her UB score increase .175 from Trials to Olympics, both hit routines.
- Aly Raisman, not known for her “international” style, saw her FX score decrease .2 from Trials to Olympics, both hit routines.
It may seem like this myth can’t be busted. However, there are so many variables in each situation, including health and mindset of the athlete, experience of the judging panel, etc., that no definitive conclusion can be reached. For example, “international” style gymnast Madison Kocian’s UB score decreased nearly .4 from Nationals to Worlds last year.
Take a look at the data below. Do you think the domestic vs. international scoring myth holds true?