You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


It’s time for the 52nd edition of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered! We apologize if we haven’t gotten to your question yet, but we try to answer in the order in which they were received (unless they are super relevant and need to be answered in a timely manner). Something you want to know? Ask us anonymously by going through the contact form at the bottom of the page.

A comment from yesterday that ended up in our inbox instead of on the comments section…”Simone Biles’ Cheng might have good and bad days, but not her Amanar.”

Just to clarify, Simone doesn’t have a Cheng, she performs a Lopez and I’ve never seen her have a ‘bad’ day with it. Also, I said Bailie Key’s Amanar has good and bad days in training, not Simone’s. That’s a quote directly from Bailie, not my judgment!

I know gymnastics isn’t like other sports and I respect that the coach and coordinator have a lot of say in how people train and fit into a team event, but does anyone find it strange that a grown woman who is a professional athlete doesn’t seem to have any say over what she does and doesn’t do in the sport, to the point that she might not even know what to do until they spring it on her? Is that normal or just the way Aly chooses to operate with Mihai?

I don’t think she’s in the dark about everything…it just sounded more to me like she knows her coaches know best. I doubt they’re like “okay by the way today you’re going to do a TTY whether you like it or not.” They probably bring various skills to the table, try a few out, take her ideas if she has them, and then see what works best. I don’t think they “spring” anything on her but rather know how she works as a gymnast and have a good idea of what could work in a routine for her.

I feel like most coach/gymnast relationships are similar, especially since most gymnasts don’t know the first thing about the code and wouldn’t know what would work in their specific routines. It’s probably more like Martha saying “she needs to add several tenths on bars” and Mihai coming in and saying “okay, you can connect this to that, or you can do a giant full before your dismount, or you can do this release instead of your Jaeger.” So then they work together, see what they want to add, and go from there. I’m sure some gymnasts see skills and think “I wanna compete that!” (like Polina Shchennikova saying back when she was 13 or so that she basically wanted Nastia Liukin’s entire beam!) and maybe sometimes it works out from there if a gymnast has a dream skill or something, but I think the coaches are the ones who go off of the code and actually construct the routines for the most part.

Do you think Aly or Gabby has a better chance at making the Worlds team?

As of right now I think they have an equal shot. They’d both contribute for different reasons and I’d bring both since I can’t think of anyone who would replace either.

What happened to Ida Gustafsson of Sweden?

She’s still in the gym as of a few days ago! She also still has her FIG license and was on the nominative roster for this year’s European Championships, so I can only assume that she’s been dealing with injuries and hasn’t been quite ready to return to competition yet. I believe the last time we saw her was at 2013 World Championships, where she actually had a pretty strong result, qualifying 32nd in the all-around…from what I can see on her social media, it seems like she’s pushing to return for this year’s Worlds.

Do you know how tall Kyla Ross is now? Google says 5’4” but that was two years ago and I heard she’s grown since then. If so, is she the tallest gymnast competing in FIG events now? Do you think it would be possible for a gymnast to rise to the elite level when they are already that tall, or would it only be possible to maintain an elite level through growth rather than achieving it afterwards?

I believe she’s about 5’5 or 5’6 now! She’s not the tallest gymnast competing but she’s certainly up there as one of the tallest. I think if you’re already that tall, it might be easier to learn your skills at your current height and become an elite whereas if you learn the bulk of your difficulty when you’re tinier, it can be just as hard to relearn your skills. Like Kyla had a double layout off bars when she was much shorter, and the growing pains showed last summer when she kept doing her dismount to her knees. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she does a double front now!

Why doesn’t the U.S. send competitors to Universiade any longer? I recall it used to be an opportunity for some NCAA competitors or rising freshmen in top NCAA programs to have some international competitive experience. But now it seems the U.S. is not sponsoring these competitions. Would the travel and entry fees come from USAG or NCAA?

I think because there’s just zero connection between the U.S. women’s national program and the NCAA programs. Obviously there are many former national team women who are part of NCAA programs, but USAG is the governing body for the sport in the United States and so they would have to create a cohesive sort of union between the two entities. They may not want to because Universiade is typically in the summer about three months after NCAA Championships end, which is basically smack in the middle of their hiatus…they only get a very short break between Championships and needing to begin seriously training routines for the next season, and because NCAA is more intensive than elite in that they compete every single week in the spring, their bodies might need the time off. I’m sure if someone was willing to go and compete and brought it up to someone, they could work something out, but overall it’s just not a priority for either the U.S. women’s program or anyone in the various NCAA programs.

What are your thoughts on the GAGE girls?

We at The Gymternet are HUGE fans of the GAGE girls! We love what they bring to the sport and the fact that all of them are basically kickass young women. Brenna Dowell is incredible for deciding to return to elite after a season in NCAA…it can be really difficult to maintain your elite skills after being out for as long as she was, and yet she brought basically her entire insanely ballsy bars routine back. Maddie Desch has grown up into such a classic gymnast with so much poise…I remember her in 2010 being upset about not hitting at Classics, and then within two years she was on the podium at junior nationals. She can be overshadowed by bigger skills and names but I think she has so much to her gymnastics that deserves a look! And Sabrina Vega is one of my favorite gymnasts…I just love her style and personality and was SO happy to see her finally make a comeback.

Have a question? Ask below! Remember that the form directly below this line is for questions; to comment, keep scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Article by Lauren Hopkins


7 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. You answered a question the other day about the difference between a barini and a Grigorias(sp?) on beam, which thanks to you I finally understand. But Is Chellsie Memmel creddited in the COP with the piked barini? She competed it for most of her career, and I don’t recall seeing really anyone else do it.


  2. One thing about Universiade…don’t the gymnasts also have to be up to date with international drug testing since Universiade is an FIG event? That could be one reason why there are no American athletes since there’s paper work and a long waiting period involved.


  3. Speaking of Chengs, thought it was pretty cool Simone said in this interview that she had planned to compete a Cheng at classics. Any idea why she pulled it or if she will try it at nationals?


  4. Thank you Lauren for this new edition of ‘You asked the Gymtenet answers’. I just love them!
    Regarding the Universiade question, I would have agreed with your answer but for the fact that the
    US do send male competitors. So why not females? Why would the reasons you give apply for females and not males. Or do the boys have a different schedule for their NCAA competitions? Could it be that that the girls would simply not be competitive enough and have little chance to grab a medal?


    • I think the MAG and WAG programs in the US are not necessarily working parallel with each other, however, so I don’t know how they concern each other in this matter. For instance, I would think the MAG program in the US would be pretty concerned with NCAA goings-ons, since a number of the national team members are still in NCAA or recently graduated from a university. Having a NCAA MAG who is also competing and training elite may not be so hard to find. In large part, the governing body of WAG and NCAA operate completely separately, as Lauren said, since there is nowhere near as much overlap (I know there are exceptions to that, but they are very much exceptions.) At least, that is how I understand it.


  5. Sorry i think i just sent my comment as a question! .i apologize..i’ ll just paste my comment here!

    Speaking of GAGE girls…no one was ever as classy as Sarah Finnegan the only ones that could ever match her were ohashi and the amazing podkopayeva. Its a rare type of style: super artistic and dancey but still powerful ..not as ‘rhythmic’ as liukins’ for example. Love that dont come across that very often!
    (For the record i am using past tense because i am referring to their elite days!)


  6. Love the leo analysis! My question is: How are the leos picked? Does the gymnast get to decide? Is it different for different kinds of competition (for example the Secret Classic vs. the Olympics?) Or for team vs. individual competition? Thanks!


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