You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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We’re back with the eighth edition of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered! We apologize if we haven’t gotten to your question yet, but we are trying to answer them in order. Something you want to know? Ask us anonymously by going through this contact form below!

Do you know how it works when an athlete has to get a visa (like to World Championships) but the team isn’t decided until right before the competition? How do they get their visas in time?

There are definitely rush orders for visas…I know when I was looking into going to China, I had the option of getting one was close as three days before my flight. You pay a bit more but it’s for last minute trips, which is likely why they chose the team a week before they left. Compare this to other international competitions where they didn’t need visas…they chose the team within a day or two of leaving! They also have an administrative person on staff who handles things like travel arrangements and visa procurement, so it’s all out of the hands of the gymnasts/their parents.

Do you think Katelyn Ohashi will still be healthy for Rio? If no, why? If Katelyn Ohashi goes to Rio what medals do you think she will get? And also what are your other medal predictions, for now, at Rio ?

I think Ohashi’s elite career is pretty much done, based on what she’s said in the recent past. Also, she no longer trains with Valeri Liukin, she returned to public school, and she only just started seriously training again over the summer. She still has a lot of work to do but the fact that she has some of her old signature skills on the low beam is cool. She has stated that she wants to compete for NCAA — UCLA specifically — so this is likely what she’s working for. In terms of Rio, it’s a bit too early to make predictions…anything can happen in two years!

Will we be speaking of “big skills” or “artistry” at the conclusion of the 2014 World Championships?

I’m not sure what you mean by this. You can have big skills and artistry at the same time…it’s not one or the other. Simone Biles is the reigning all-around champion, and she definitely has big skills AND shows artistry. Artistry doesn’t have to mean ballet. Artistry is subjective, but can be defined as the originality/creativity of choreography in elements and connections, the quality of the gymnast’s movement to reflect her personal style, and the quality of expression (projection, emotion, focus). Musicality is also a big piece of artistry on floor. Section 13 of the FIG code of points defines artistry as:

“An artistic performance is one in which the gymnast demonstrates her ability to transform her floor exercise routine from a well-structured composition into an artistic performance. In so doing the gymnast must demonstrate a strong choreographic flow, artistry, expressiveness, musicality and perfect technique. The main objective is to create and present a unique and well- balanced artistic gymnastic composition by combining the body movements and expression of the gymnast harmoniously with the theme and character of the music.”

Does USAG do anything if a gymnast doesn’t have health insurance?

I don’t think the likelihood of this is very high. Gymnastics is a very expensive sport and if someone can afford to be a high-level competitive gymnast, chances are they come from a family situation where health insurance is not a financial hardship. I’m sure there are exceptions, and USAG does have a team doctor on hand so my guess is that if they’re injured and it’s gym-related, they’d try to work something out.

Do you think McKayla Maroney will ever make another World or Olympic team? There are just so many other great U.S. gymnasts out there now.

It’s definitely possible. Mack recovered very quickly from her injury during the 2012 tour, and won gold at 2013 Worlds. She’s been doing the Amanar for years now, so getting her vault back doesn’t seem to be much of a challenge for her. I also think that she’s the kind of athlete who will only ever quit gymnastics when some part of her body has physically fallen off. The key for McKayla will probably be making sure she can reasonably contribute on at least one or two events besides vault in a team final.

Which active gymnast is the most elegant and admirable to watch? Is there any most memorable routine that you would never forget?

Right now, I think Emily Gaskins is really beautiful, and I also love watching Maile O’Keefe on floor because her choreography is so well done with beautiful transitions between elements and movements. Same goes for Olivia Dunne. I also really love NCAA gymnast Chayse Capps, who competes for Oklahoma; her floor routine from last season was breathtaking. As for memorable routines, there’s a ton that come to mind, including Ksenia Afanasyeva, Laurie Hernandez, Catherine Lyons, Claire Martin, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi, Iosra Abdelaziz…there are so many I love to watch.

In terms of a memorable routine I’d never forget…again, a lot, but probably Olga Strazheva’s “Rite of Spring” performance, which incorporated the same insane style of dance seen in the ballet (which, when premiered in Paris 101 years ago, caused an uproar in the theater because people were used to the classical style whereas Nijinsky’s choreography basically tried to be the anthesis of ballet…and it pissed people off). The floor routine is creepy and awesome with lots of flexed feet, sharp angles, and awkward movement, perfectly embodying the music and style of the piece. The best is that when you introduce this routine to people who say they only like “ballet style” floor routines, they hate this…even though it’s literally one of the only actual legit ballet routines ever performed.

 

Do you think Kyla will be able to stick it out until Rio? Is there any possibility of her getting her Amanar back?

I don’t think Kyla needs to do an Amanar. Her DTY scores very highly because her form and technique leave very little room for execution deductions, and she has proven to be highly nationally and internationally competitive as an all-around gymnast with her DTY. As for sticking it out for the next two years, it’s definitely a possibility that we will still see her competing in 2016, though it might be a little early to say definitively whether or not she will make it to Rio.

Do you think Rebecca Bross will ever return to competition? She has always been one of my favorite gymnasts and I’d love to see her come back.

I don’t think so. I’d still love to see her come back, but she definitely hasn’t trained in over two years. She recently posted a video of her casually throwing a double arabian on a tumble track just for fun…good effort but she crashed it to her hands and knees and that was with that extra oomph from the trampoline. She still looks like she’s in great shape but I think has been out of gymnastics too long to put together elite routines by 2016…and really, if you can’t make a comeback one quad out, two or more is pretty much impossible. Never say never, but yeah, she’s likely done. She is coaching, though! At least she found something that seems to make her happy.

I would like to request that you explain the rules for Olympic Qualifications this cycle, in regards to teams. Which teams in Nanning are hoping to continue on to 2015?

This year, 39 teams will get cut down to 24 who will be allowed to compete at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow. In 2015, 24 teams will be cut down to 16. The top 8 teams automatically qualify to the 2016 Olympic Games while teams ranked 9th through 16th have compete at the test event in early 2016. At the test event, the top four teams qualify to Rio. During qualifications in Rio, the 12 nations who qualified full teams compete and the top eight go to team finals.

Of the 39 teams competing this year, 12 will without a doubt will qualify to 2015: the United States, China, Russia, Japan, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Romania, Brazil, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands. Eight more teams that I expect qualify: North Korea, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary, South Korea, France, and Sweden.

The nine teams that will fight for the last four spots include Colombia, Venezuela, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Poland, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, and Argentina. Each of these teams has scored at least a 198 this year (in a 4 count situation). This leaves Austria, South Africa, Chile, Ukraine, Peru, Ireland, Greece, Chinese Taipei, and India that I believe are not realistically in contention, unless they’ve made major upgrades over the past few months.

Do you think the incredibly harsh scoring may have done anything to contribute to the tepid YOG? I can’t help but think it lowered morale, and with so many highly talented girls, it should have been way more exciting!

I don’t think it lowered morale too much…in fact, I think if gymnasts saw lower scores during qualifications, they likely tried to work even harder during finals! I did hate seeing the relatively harsh scoring because it was very rare to see a hit routine earn above, like, an 8.2 and typically when I see something that looked fantastic with no noticeable errors, I think it’s gonna get around a 9.0 — and it usually comes close! So the fact that a beam with a single wobble would get a 7.7 is insane to me. I know, I know, wobbles aren’t the only things that matter and even a perfectly steady routine has a lot going on that you might not pick up on if you’re watching without a sharp eye. But still…it’s definitely disheartening to see a comparatively lovely routine not even hit an 8.0. But like I said, if anything the lowballed scores during qualifications likely motivated the gymnasts for finals. I thought the all-around final was much more exciting than qualifications. At least the low scores were consistent, though. There were a few weirdly high scores on vault, but otherwise it’s not like certain gymnasts tended to be over-scored while others were under. Judging is all relative…think of it going on a curve like with some grading. If a stellar routine gets a 9.0 at Worlds, a slightly less stellar routine might get an 8.6…whereas if a stellar routine got an 8.2 at YOGs, a slightly less stellar routine may have earned a 7.8. If it works out like that, lowballing doesn’t have much of an effect on anything.

Answers by Sarah Chrane, Lauren Hopkins, Jackie Klein, and Joe Rinaldi

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3 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Mikaela Gerber (Canada) competed a very similar exercise to Strazheva’s! I have watched it a million times but I didn’t know of Starzheva – she predates my becoming a gymnastics fan – but both are fun routines to watch.

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  2. On the subject of visas: I know that some countries (including the US) have a specific type of visa for sports that gets processed more quickly; they likely use those whenever they can.

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  3. Oh, wow! Thank you for introducing me to Strazheva’s routine–it’s stunning. I was a ballet dancer for over 20 years, and this was the first time I have ever seen a gymnastics performance that really spoke to me as a true piece of art. Anyone who truly knows and loves ballet would love that piece and would appreciate the beautifully choreographed homage to Rite of Spring.

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