You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


It’s time for the 59th 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.

Madison Kocian won bars at nationals; do you think she is likely to go to World Championships? Since 2007, the U.S. has taken every national apparatus champion to Worlds.

She’s definitely high on the list of those who have a shot at the Worlds team, not only because she has the best bars, but because she also has a full all-around program as backup, making her a bars specialist with more to offer. She would be a very valuable member to the team (the most valuable of those with strong bars at this point), but it’s hard to say what Martha Karolyi wants. Because there are several top all-arounders with strong bars, I can see Martha deciding she doesn’t need a bars specialist, because at most, Madison would only add a few tenths to the overall team score. There are other scenarios that could also result in a few extra tenths and one situation that could possibly result in an extra individual medal (Mykayla Skinner on vault).

It’s a tricky puzzle thanks to all of this depth…Madison very well could fit onto the team but so could several others. In the past, there hasn’t been as much depth so there was both room for apparatus champions as well as a need for them in a team final. But this year, the top five all-arounders could easily do it on their own, so it’s a different situation.

Where does Brenna Dowell stand with the team? Martha Karolyi would need to see consistency, consistency, consistency for Brenna to have a shot, and Brenna hasn’t shown that yet.

I don’t see her as making the Worlds team this year, especially as she wasn’t named to the national team. She has only hit one out of three routines this summer, so it would be hard to justify her over someone like Madison Kocian…even if she hits every routine at selection camp, it would still be a risk to bring her and expect her to hit in a three-up three-count team final situation. I love her bars but even her hit routines get a considerable amount of deductions that wouldn’t put her as a top bars gymnast in the U.S. so it’d be pretty difficult to justify her as part of the team. She is working an Amanar, so I’d say if she has that back by Worlds in addition to a consistent 15+ bar routine, she could play a very important role…but considering she only just started training elite in June after so much time off, she might not be fully ready to contribute at the Worlds level just yet.

Why did Rachel Baumann compete at nationals? She wasn’t at Classics and she isn’t a national team member, is she?

National team members don’t automatically qualify to nationals, so it wouldn’t matter if she WAS a national team member. The only automatic qualifiers to nationals this year were World Championships team members, Pan Am Games team members, and alternates for these events. No juniors automatically qualify. Junior gymnasts qualify to nationals either through scores obtained in official verification at the ranch, at the American Classic, or at the U.S. Classic. Rachel attended the American Classic, where her score of 53.4 was more than enough for nationals.

Kyla Ross used to score exceptionally well on beam internationally so it puzzles me how she never gets past 15 anymore. Yes, her difficulty is low and her connections are somewhat slow, but when she hits, her execution is perfect. Everyone says the code deducts for taking long pauses, but that’s something I personally don’t see with Kyla. She transitions very smoothly in my opinion. What’s your opinion on her beam recently? Why has it been scoring lower?

I think she just gets slammed for lots of little things that all come together…her sheep jump form isn’t great, her connections are slow and some definitely aren’t credited, she always looks a little tentative, doesn’t get great amplitude…and so on. But her beam routine on day two at nationals was definitely almost flawless and should be how she does that routine every single time. If you watch her beam from that night compared to other beam routines where she hasn’t scored as well, you can see the energy is different, as are all of the little subtle pieces…she tied everything together for the first time all season and that’s how she needs to hit it to go 15+ in future routines.

What do you think about Catalina Ponor’s comeback?

I’m so excited to see her back. She is the gift that keeps on giving. I know she’s been dealing with a foot injury so I don’t know how much she’ll be able to get back before Worlds this year, but she certainly has a great shot at doing big things at the Olympics next year. And I think even if she’s not fully back for Worlds, she’s still probably one of the best options for the Romanian team and can likely still help out a ton this year.

What do Ellie Black’s Pan Am results make you think about her chances at Worlds this year?

I hope if anything, her Pan Am results are a huge confidence boost for her…she always seems to do really well in the all-around but makes mistakes on one event which limits her from doing as well as she should, so hopefully getting through that fabulous all-around set and notching the win put her in a good place going into Worlds. I don’t know if she could make it to the podium without relying on mistakes from others who are stronger (think in the 59+ zone) but she could easily be in the top eight, and possibly even the top five.

I think Daniele Hypolito looks absolutely amazing this year and so it seems to me that she must be very determined to make it to Rio. But I can’t really judge her status on the Brazilian team very well…do you think she is basically a lock (at this stage, anyway) or does she have a lot of (current or upcoming) competition? Do you think she has more room to upgrade and/or improve execution scores before next year?

I think she looks fantastic which is why during Pan Ams I was very confused as to why the commentators kept questioning whether she could hold on for another year. I wouldn’t consider her or anyone else a lock really but if I had to say three I’d know for sure would be the most valuable to the Brazilian team both in earning a spot at the Games and then at the Olympics, she’d for sure be on my list. She is definitely still high up in the mix, especially because no one can really match her consistency. She could certainly upgrade in a few places, and even though she’s not as strong in the all-around as her younger teammates Flavia Saraiva and Rebeca Andrade, she is still a great choice because her routines are less ‘flashy’ but more reliable. She could go up anywhere in the team final and do a great job.

What happened to Delanie Harkness? There was all this buzz about her being Twistar’s next big star. She competed at nationals last year and I haven’t heard anything since.

Delanie competed at a level 10 meet this year so my guess is that she dropped down from elite, because to compete at the J.O. level you have to basically ‘retire’ from elite. She earned her qualifying score for Classics at last year’s nationals, so she could have competed at Classics this year, but the fact that she competed at the level 10 meet and then didn’t show up for Classics suggests that it’s likely she is no longer interested in doing elite. At the same time, she only had one level 10 meet all season and only competed on bars there so it’s possible she’s injured?

Where does ‘ring’ originate from in skills like ring leaps and switch rings? Is it named after a person or something else?

They’re called ‘rings’ because of the shape of the body in the position of these skills. The combination of the bent leg, the arch of the back, and the release of the head give the skill a circle or ‘ring’ shape.

I’m super surprised to see Sabrina Vega trying to join the mix of the U.S. team again. As someone with dual citizenship who would easily be Puerto Rico’s best female gymnast and secure herself an Olympic spot, why give up a chance to be a lock for an Olympic team? Do you think it’s a weird choice?

Do we know for sure if she has dual citizenship? I don’t think she does…I know last quad everyone was saying “I wish Vega had dual citizenship!” when it became clear that she wouldn’t make the U.S. Olympic team. Honestly, I don’t think she has much of a chance to do anything big for the U.S. team, especially with the incredible depth in the country right now, but my understanding is that she loves training and competing at the elite level and so going to Worlds or the Olympics isn’t really as important to her as just being able to continue at that high level. Even when she didn’t make it to nationals this year, she seemed thrilled to be back and competing and didn’t seem upset at all about not continuing on. So it’s an unusual choice to be college-aged and continuing elite despite not a strong shot of going to the Olympics but she has stated that she has no desire to compete on an NCAA team and loves doing elite, so if that’s what she wants to do, all the power to her!

Do you know what’s going on with Elizabet Vasileva? The last time she competed was 2014 and there are no recent videos of her. Is she still  training gymnastics? Is she a senior this year or next year?

Elizabet actually competed at the Nadia Comaneci Invitational this year! She is still a junior and becomes a senior in 2016. The Bulgarians typically don’t send gymnasts on a lot of international assignments at the junior level which is why you probably haven’t seen much of her, but yes, she is still training in artistic gymnastics. Here’s a recent photo of her in the gym!

If you could go back in time and attend any meet in the history of gymnastics, which would it be and why?

As an American who grew up obsessed with the Mag 7, I would a hundred percent go with the 1996 Olympic team final…or the team final in 2003, which I was weirdly obsessed with and would watch over and over (I think because it was the first time in years I felt like the U.S. could actually be back as a strong team contender). As a glutton for punishment, I’d also love to be at the all-around final at the 2000 Olympic Games.

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. DO NOT ASK US WHERE MCKAYLA MARONEY IS OR WE’LL SCREAM.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

2 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. I think the thing about Brazil is more the possibility that they might not qualify a full team? They have good gymnasts but with Andrade’s injury they’re definitely in danger of being overtaken by teams like The Netherlands and Belgium who have always been on the fringes of qualification. If they don’t manage to qualify a full team I’d say Flavia or Rebeca (who is reasonably likely to be healthy for the Olympics even if she doesn’t make the test event) are a much more likely choice than Daniele, even though she looks pretty good.


  2. Following up on the above question about Sabrina Vega, the answer is definitely yes. She has stated in past interviews that she is Puerto Rican/Dominican. Regardless of where you are born if you had one Puerto Rican parent you are a citizen of Puerto Rico. You can even establish it through grandparents, etc. with proper birth records. She’s a lovely gymnast and I’d love to see her compete on the World stage again.


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