What World Championships All-Around Podiums Would Look Like Without Carry-Over Scoring

In Part I of this project I recalculated the final results of the five Olympic All-Around (AA) competitions that were contested during the carry-over scoring era to determine who would have won had new-life scoring been in effect. In this part I will do the same for the seven AA contests at the World Championships that were also held under new-life scoring.

1974 World Championships

Carry-Over Scoring:
Ludmilla Turischeva
Olga Korbut
Angelika Hellmann

New-Life Scoring:
Ludmilla Turischeva
Olga Korbut
Angelika Hellmann

The 1974 World Championships marked the first time carry-over scoring was used in the AA at the World Championships level in women’s artistic gymnastics (WAG). It resulted in having no impact on the final results. Carry-over scoring was used in 12 AA competitions at the Olympics and World Championships. The 1974 World Championships marks the only instance in which carry-over scores did not impact the final AA results. It did however impact the 4th place finisher. Under new-life scoring Annelore Zinke moves from 6th to 4th place.

Nellie Kim

1978 World Championships

Carry-Over Scoring:
Elena Mukhina
Nellie Kim
Natalia Shaposhnikova

New-Life Scoring:
Nellie Kim
Elena Mukhina
Natalia Shaposhnikova

This one is going to hurt. As much as it pains me to say it, Elena Mukhina would not have won the 1978 AA under new-life scoring. Of the seven World Championships held under carry-over scoring, Elena Mukhina is the only gymnast who loses her title when scores are adjusted to eliminate carry-over scores. It is wretched to imagine Elena Mukhina not being the 1978 World Champion due to the tragic circumstances in which her career ended. If there is one gymnast who deserves to keep her AA title for eternity, it’s Elena Mukhina.

What makes this result so surprising is that in both Data Crunch #3.1 and Data Crunch #4.2 Elena Mukhina-1978 ranked as one of the most impressive performances in WAG history. Elena Mukhina’s 1978 performance typically ranks as one of the strongest performances in most the data analysis I have subjected it to.

The lesson here is that there are multiple ways to break down competitions and it is possible to use two different metrics, one demonstrating a particular result was abnormally above-average, while a different metric might label the exact same result as below-average. So how did Nellie Kim manage to score more points than Elena Mukhina in AA finals? Nellie and Mukhina had recorded identical scores on 3 of 4 events. Nellie Kim recorded a slightly higher score on beam which gave her the higher point total in AA finals.

Maxi Gnauck

1979 World Championships

Carry-Over Scoring:
Nellie Kim
Maxi Gnauck
Melita Ruhn

New-Life Scoring:
Nellie Kim
Maxi Gnauck
Melita Ruhn

Because Nellie Kim defeated Elena Mukhina in the previous year, under new-life scoring Nellie Kim would have won back-to-back titles in the AA. Also in 1979 a young Maxi Gnauck making her debut at the World Championships gets demoted from the outright winner of the silver medal, to being forced to share it with Romania’s Melita Ruhn.

For Maxi Gnauck, it would be the second time in her career carry-over scoring came to her benefit. In the following year Maxi would win an AA silver at the 1980 Olympics. However she would have failed to make the podium under new-life scoring.

Ma Yanhong

1981 World Championships

Carry-Over Scoring:
Olga Bicherova
Maria Filatova
Elena Davydova

New-Life Scoring:
Olga Bicherova
Maria Filatova
Ma Yanhong

After three relatively mild alterations to the AA podium, the 1981 World Championships is where we finally get a major shakeup on the AA podium. At first glance little appears to change. The 1981 AA is one of just four occasions where gold and silver remain identical. However, bronze medalist Elena Davydova falls all the way to 5th place. In her place Ma Yanhong of China is elevated to bronze.

The appearance of Ma Yanhong on this podium is especially significant. Had Ma won an AA medal in 1981, it would have been a significant accomplishment for a Chinese program where AA medals are a rarity. Instead, Chinese WAG would have to wait another 19 years before Liu Xuan would win the first AA medal in program history. Ma Yanhong’s failure to win an AA medal in 1981 also gives Chinese WAG the unfortunate distinction of having never won an AA medal in the 20th century.

But this result also shows how strong of a gymnast Ma was in her time. She was the first gymnast to break Eastern Europe’s stranglehold on the sport. Gymnasts such as Cathy Rigby and Marcia Frederick had managed to win an occasional medal for the American program, Ma Yanhong was the first WAG to repeatedly challenge the Eastern Bloc for supremacy.

The fact that Ma Yanhong came so close to an AA medal adds to the legend of a gymnast who was a trailblazer in her time. It would also serve to solidify the point that Ma was more than merely a legendary bars worker, but a highly capable gymnast across all four events.

Natalia Yurchenko (Left) and Olga Mostepanova (Right)

1983 World Championships

New-Life Scoring:
Natalia Yurchenko
Olga Mostepanova
Ecaterina Szabo

New-Life Scoring:
Natalia Yurchenko
Olga Mostepanova
Ecaterina Szabo

Once again the results of carry-over scores being converted into new-life scores produces only minor changes to the AA podium. Ecaterina Szabo is upgraded from bronze to sharing the silver medal with Olga Mostepanova. If Ludmilla Turischeva and Maxi Gnauck are the biggest losers if carry-over scoring had been abolished, Ecaterina Szabo would have benefited more than anyone else. Not only would new-life scoring have given her the Olympic AA title in 1984, but in 1983 Szabo also would have been upgraded to a higher medal-color as well.

Elena Shushunova and Oksana Omelianchik

1985 World Championships

Carry-Over Scoring:
Elena Shushunova
Oksana Omelianchik
Dagmar Kersten

New-Life Scoring:
Elena Shushunova
Oksana Omelianchik
Dagmar Kersten
Gabriele Fahnrich

Of the seven World Championships that were held with carry-over scoring results applying to the AA, the 1985 World Championships is the podium which features the most significant reshuffling under new-life scoring. This particular competition is famous for being the only time in WAG history a major AA title was shared between two gymnasts. Under new-life scoring this tie never happens. Elena Shushunova wins the title outright while Oksana Omelianchik takes the silver medal.

Another change is rather than winning the bronze medal outright, East German gymnast Dagmar Kersten shares it with her teammate Gabriele Fahnrich. For Gabriele Fahnrich, it would have been a significant milestone in her career. Fahnrich was not as accomplished as most of the gymnasts featured in this 2-part series. To have an AA medal would have been a significant boost to her career resume. But it also would have given credence to the notion that Fahnrich was a talented gymnast in her day. Fahnrich had amazing longevity for the era having a career that extends from the 1983 World Championships to the 1988 Olympics. The AA medal she nearly won solidifies her case that this was a gymnast who despite not being one of the winningest gymnasts of her era, was extremely talented.

Daniela Silivas

1987 World Championships

Carry-Over Scoring:
Aurelia Dobre
Elena Shushunova
Daniela Silivas

New-Life Scoring:
Aurelia Dobre
Elena Shushunova
Svetlana Baitova

The final time an AA was held at the World Championships under carry-over scoring featured 4th place finisher Svetlana Baitova usurping Daniela Silivas for the bronze medal. The 1987 AA produces only one change to the podium under new-life scoring, but it is quite a significant one and there is much to unpack.

To start with Daniela Silivas, under new-life scoring Daniela wins the 1988 Olympic AA title, but she also gets booted off the list of gymnasts who have won multiple AA medals. Daniela Silivas is remembered for being one of the most likable, lovable, and respected second place finishers in WAG history. Silivas is frequently cited as a gymnast who should have won the 1988 AA, and fans frequently point to her other accomplishments to bolster her case as the best gymnast of 1988.

However, much of what Silivas accomplished outside the 1988 AA had come in competitions where carry-over scoring had worked to her benefit. Had carry-over scoring been abolished prior to the start of her career, Silivas would go down in history as the most talented WAG to have never won a second AA medal. She would also lose the record for being the last gymnast to sweep the Olympics, as well as the last gymnast to sweep any major competition in the pre-Simone era. Besides losing her 1988 Olympic vault medal, Silivas would also have had to share her 1988 Olympic bars title with not one, but two other gymnasts (Dagmar Kersten and Elena Shushunova).

Under new-life scoring Silivas wins the 1988 Olympic AA title which is the most prestigious individual prize there is in WAG. But at what cost? The same rule change would also knock out some of Daniela’s most prized accomplishments. But I’d argue Silivas would still come out ahead under this scenario as the Olympic AA generates so much media attention. Coupled with her status as a Romanian gymnast competing in the Cold War era, the media would have fawned over Daniela and instantly invoked the classic comparisons to Nadia.

For a gymnast who often takes the top spot in various Facebook/Twitter popularity polls created by gymnastics fans, it can only be imagined how much more popularity Daniela would have for herself with an Olympic AA title.

Svetlana Baitova

And we haven’t even gotten to the actual bronze medalist under new-life scoring in 1987. In March I created a 2-part series where I profiled the unluckiest gymnasts who finished in 4th place more often than anyone else. Of the eight gymnasts I profiled as “Queens of 4th place,” two of them (Erika Zuchold and Svetlana Baitova) competed in the carry-over scoring era. In both cases, Zuchold and Baitova produced better results when their scores are adjusted to incorporate new-life scoring.

For those who don’t know, Svetlana Baitova was the Shang Chunsong before Shang Chunsong. At the 1987 World Championships Svetlana Baitova infamously finished in 4th place on 4 of 5 individual events. There are 20 gymnasts in WAG history who finished in 4th place in one of the five individual events on three or more occasions, 18 of them eventually won an individual medal elsewhere in their career. The only two who didn’t were Shang Chunsong and Svetlana Baitova.

Shang Chunsong is second on the list of WAGs with the most 4th place finishes who didn’t win an individual medal. At the top of the list is Svetlana Baitova. If Elena Mukhina is the gymnast who has an AA title and deserves to keep it more than anyone else, Svetlana Baitova is the gymnast who doesn’t have an individual medal and deserves one more than anyone else.

To have one of those dreaded 4th place finishes from the 1987 World Championships entered into the record book as a bronze medal would correct one of the most heartbreaking stat lines in WAG history. Whereas Daniela Silivas has a wide range of accomplishments on her competitive resume, in the case of Baitova having just one individual medal would have been extremely significant to her overall career.

Link to Part I: What Olympic All-Around Podiums Would Look Like Without Carry-Over Scoring

Svetlana Baitova (Top)

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