At balance beam finals yesterday in Rio, US gymnast Laurie Hernandez executed a near-flawless routine — but her coach Maggie Haney thought the judges’ score of 15.333 was a little low.
Luckily, gymnasts and their coaches are allowed to appeal the scores, filing what’s known in the gymnastics world as an inquiry.
The only catch? Inquiries come with a steep price tag.
Once a score is posted, a coach on the competition floor is allowed to approach the judges and ask to file an inquiry, NBC Olympics reports. From there, the coach has just four minutes to fill out a form and pay a $300 fee. If a coach files a second inquiry on behalf of her gymnast, the fee jumps to $500. And if a coach files a third inquiry, the cost is $1,000.
The fees are meant to discourage excessive questioning of scores.
When a coach does file an inquiry, the judges review a video of the routine to see if they scored the routine’s difficulty incorrectly. For example: A gymnast can get a bonus in her difficulty score if she performs two skills on the balance beam one after the other, without a pause in between. Pause length is subjective, so a gymnast might think she deserves a bonus for connecting two skills, where a judge saw a pause between them.
If the judges decide to raise the score after review, the fee is returned to the coach. But if they reject the inquiry (which is often the case), the money goes to the International Gymnastics Federation.
An inquiry helped Aly Raisman win the bronze in the balance beam event finals in the London 2012 Olympics. But Laurie Hernandez had no such luck. Her inquiry was rejected, leaving her with the silver medal behind Dutch gymnast Sanne Wevers.
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