During the 1996 Olympic games, Kerry Strug would become famous for performing a vault maneuver that ultimately won the US Women’s gymnastics team the gold medal.

Strug participated in the 1996 Olympics as a member of the U.S. women’s team, often referred to as the Magnificent Seven. After compulsories, Strug was ranked 9th overall and had placed high enough to qualify herself for the all-around. She posted the second highest score on floor exercise — but qualified first in floor exercise event finals after the team final and ahead of eventual FX Gold Medalist Lilia Podkopayeva — and 4th highest on vault, which would qualify her for event finals in her two strongest events. In the team competition, an event dominated by the Russians for decades and never won by the United States, the U.S. competed with the Russian, Romanian, and Ukrainian teams. The Russians came into the team competition with a very narrow lead. The event came down to the final rotation on the final day of the team competition, July 23, 1996.

Going into the final rotation, with the Russians on floor exercise and the U.S. on vault, the U.S. women held a commanding 0.897-point lead over the Russian team. At that point, it was possible for the Russians to take the gold if the U.S. women collapsed. The first four U.S. gymnasts landed their vaults, but struggled to land them cleanly, taking steps and hops. To add to the drama, Strug’s teammate Dominique Moceanu fell twice, registering a poor score. Strug was the last to vault for the United States.

Kerri Strugg 1996VIEW-VIDEO

Strug under-rotated the landing of her first attempt, causing her to fall and damage her ankle. As a result, the attempt was awarded 9.162 points. Retrospectively, after a poor performance from the final Russian Roza Galieva on floor, Moceanu’s score would have been sufficient to beat the Russians even if Strug had not performed a second vault, as the lowest score for each team was dropped. However, Galieva performed after Strug, and therefore Strug needed to land a second vault on her feet in order to mathematically clinch the gold.



At least that was the “official version.” Actually the Gold Medal was already clinched after Strug’s first vault. However, the media potential for this event was unprecedented. The actual meet took place during the afternoon in Atlanta. Yet the airing to the American public aired in the latest slot (at 9:00pm) during that night’s coverage of the event (NBC). The original voices of the commentators was not broadcast, and instead, a new “voice over” was added so that the drama of the event could be exploited to [1] make the US look like an underdog and galvanize the patriotic feeling of the nation [2] sell more Olympic merchandise as the emotional audiences rode a wave of US patriotism. If I remember correctly, the IOC even registered a complaint about the voice over and the exploitation of the event. Yet the US media still perpetuates to this day the fact that the vault was needed to win the gold medal.

This is a good example of how ORCHESTRATION works. The ability to use “voice overs” and record images allows images and sound to be spliced together and shown at a different time than originally recorded. The sound can include sad music, happy music, upbeat music etc. When the images of 9-11 were being shown, they were accompanied by Adagio for Strings type music. ORCHESTRATION can also include slowing down, or speeding up images. 






pete padilla

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