It’s time for the 65th 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.
Has Brenna Dowell made any indication, after her major setback at Worlds, whether she’ll continue to press on for Rio? Do you think there is any way Martha Karolyi would give her a shot next year? After the way she was treated at Worlds, I’m not so sure.
I believe Brenna’s goal is to push forward through the 2016 elite season despite what happened if only because she had already planned on deferring from Oklahoma and can’t just jump back onto the roster. Whether she thinks she has a shot at Rio or not is one thing, but she’s said in the past that she has nothing to lose, so even if the Olympics aren’t in the cards for her, I think her feeling is that it’s still worth the risk. She is under no pressure to finish her career at OU right away, has the ability to take a semester off with no penalty, and might as well go for it because it’s what she wants to do.
Why didn’t Nica Hults and Felicia Hano sign their national letters of intent for UCLA? Has Miss Val deferred them for a year?
I’m actually not sure why they didn’t sign letters of intent, but there actually is a second NLI signing in the spring so it’s possible they’re both waiting until then before they sign. I know during Halloween, Nica’s mom wrote on Facebook about it being Nica’s last Halloween at home, so it seems clear that her plan is to begin attending UCLA in the 2016-2017 season. I’m not sure what the reasoning would be for pushing back the NLI signing but that is definitely an option for both.
Why does Madison Kocian do a stalder circle toward the end of her bars routine (before the stalder full) if it doesn’t count toward her D score (no connection bonus and the skill isn’t counted because she has enough higher difficulty skills)?
It’s possible that it counted as a skill in her routine before she added the inbar full, and because it’s been part of her routine for so long, she kept it in so the only change to her routine would be the inbar full at the beginning instead of also taking out a skill at the end. It could be that she prefers the flow of the stalder into the stalder full because the body position is similar and preps her for the stalder full? She could do a giant before the stalder full but just prefers the stalder swing instead even if she gets no bonus from it.
If we applied the 2020 qualification rules to the 2015 worlds results, would Maggie Nichols, Simone Biles, and Madison Kocian all be eligible for the non-team spots? Does USA Gymnastics then choose which two of the three gets to attend the Olympic Games?
Yes, all three would be eligible for the non-team spots and yes, USA Gymnastics would choose the two that get to go. Of course, the one not chosen could be added to the actual team, so it likely would come down to who made the most sense as a specialist vs who made the most sense for the all-around. If I had to choose between those three for team and non-team spots, I’d put Simone on the team for sure because of her all-around ability (since the team final will become essentially a big all-around battle) and then bring Maggie and Madison as my non-team gymnasts.
Do you know if Kyla Ross is still training elite? I didn’t know if she had made a decision to head to UCLA or if she was still planning on making a run for Rio.
Yup, Kyla is still training elite and hopes to contend for a spot on the 2016 Olympic team! She has deferred her spot at UCLA to the 2016-2017 season and is fully planning on competing at the elite level next spring and summer.
In 2012, why was the Dutch federation able to send Celine van Gerner instead of Wyomi Masela? I thought these spots from the test event were nominative.
All-around spots earned by countries with full teams at the test event are not nominative, compared to all-around spots earned by gymnasts at the test event without full teams…those are nominative. Annoyingly confusing, huh? Because the Netherlands had a full team at the 2012 test event, the all-around spot they earned when they failed to qualify a full team to London was non-nominative. The federation initially was going to give it to Wyomi because she was the strongest competitor at the time, but since Celine was injured during the test event, she argued that she should be given a chance. The two had an internal competition and Celine won, which is why she was given the spot.
Did Ashton Locklear go pro?
No, she did not. I believe she has been injured and doesn’t think her body will last through an NCAA commitment so it seems she will opt to retire after finishing her elite career rather than spending another four years at Florida as she originally planned.
The gymnasts who qualified to Rio by earning an event finals medal at this year’s worlds…will they be allowed to compete all-around during Rio prelims or can they only compete the event on which they qualified?
The event medalists who qualified to Rio (Hong Un Jong and Pauline Schäfer if Germany doesn’t qualify a full team at the test event) are allowed to participate in the all-around in prelims.
Is there a deduction for shuffling your way down the bar while in handstand? I see that the Chinese gymnasts do this often when they finish a skill close to the side and need to come back to center.
No, this isn’t a deduction. Some skills – like pirouettes with 1.5 turns – take gymnasts off-center so they’re allowed to adjust themselves while in handstand on the bar in order to get back into position for the next skill.
If the Olympic tie-break rules were in effect at worlds, who would the medalists be in bar finals?
It’s hard to say in regards to Madison Kocian and Viktoria Komova, because they tied in both their D and E scores. In this case, a second tie-break is required, which involves dropping the lowest e-score of the four in their averages, which is why He Kexin was awarded gold over Nastia Liukin in 2008 despite their D and E scores matching (Liukin received e-scores of 9.1, 9.0, 9.0, and 9.0 while He received e-scores of 9.1, 9.1, 9.0, and 8.9 so when the lowest for each was dropped, He came out with a new average of 9.066 while Liukin was at 9.033).
Because we don’t have access to each of the judge’s scores for Kocian and Komova, we can’t figure out who would’ve won the second tie-break between the two of them, but here’s how the ranking would’ve worked out…
1. Viktoria Komova or Madison Kocian
2. Viktoria Komova or Madison Kocian
3. Daria Spiridonova
4. Fan Yilin
The rest of the rankings obviously would’ve remained the same!
Why do gymnasts sometimes wear black shorts with their leos in training or podium training? Is it just because it’s pretty or is there another reason that escapes me?
It’s just a preference. Some prefer to be more covered up while training because it makes them more comfortable and they don’t have to worry about things like “hey, I have a massive wedgie right now and my butt is hanging out, lemme fix that.” So it’s not really a “vanity” thing or something they do to look “pretty” but rather they just prefer to keep their bodies covered. Some also just prefer “regular” workout gear as opposed to tank leos…I think some gyms and national programs require gymnasts to train in tank leos with no shorts, but some don’t have these rules so you’ll see the gymnasts training in sports bras and shorts instead (you see this especially with the Russians and Italians).
Do you think there’s a chance that someone other than Simone Biles will compete at the American Cup? I LOVE Simone but there are so many others that need the experience and we definitely have plenty of options without sacrificing a medal.
I think especially now that Simone is pro and can accept the monetary prize, we’ll definitely see her at the American Cup. The two we’ll see are likely to be Simone and Gabby Douglas, not only because they were the top two Americans at worlds but because the American Cup is less about “gaining experience” and more about showcasing the best in the country, especially in the Olympic year. There are plenty of other opportunities for “experience” like Jesolo, Pac Rims, the test event, and all of the domestic meets. I could see Martha Karolyi throwing in a new senior as an exhibition performer at the American Cup…someone like Laurie Hernandez would be perfect since she’s local to New Jersey, where the meet will be held, and is the strongest of the up-and-comers. But this meet has always been about the “best of the best” for the Americans and I highly doubt they’ll take Simone out of the picture even if someone else in the U.S. could just as easily get a medal.
Is the U.S. ruining the sport of artistic gymnastics by taking away the ‘artistry’ and replacing it with jam-packed difficulty with no good form and terrible legs and feet?
You seem to be confused about several things. First of all, ‘artistry’ has nothing to do with form. You can be an artistic gymnast with terrible form and you can be an artistic gymnast with great form. Artistry is about performance value, not form or technique.
Second, the Americans actually had the best execution scores by quite a bit at World Championships. In the team competition using hit routines only, the U.S. women averaged e-scores at 8.86, compared to Russia at 8.80, Italy at 8.61, Great Britain at 8.60, China at 8.59, Japan at 8.52, the Netherlands at 8.51, and Canada at 8.44.
Considering the U.S. women also had the highest combined difficulty as a team, it’s fair to say they don’t sacrifice a thing, as they have both the highest difficulty and execution combined. You would be correct in saying that China sacrifices form for difficulty, as they manage 74.8 points in difficulty and just an 8.59 average e-score compared to the U.S. at 75 difficulty points and a much higher 8.86 e-score, and you would be correct in saying that Russia, while technically proficient with an 8.8 average e-score, is lacking in their difficulty, as they’re at just 71.6 points combined. But to say the U.S. “sacrifices” form for difficulty is wildly untrue and supported by absolutely zero facts.
Sure, you can say that the U.S. women aren’t perfectly polished. Some of the U.S. gymnasts do struggle with flexibility on leaps, toe point on bars, and other minor deductions, but overall they are the only team in the world to combine equally high levels of difficulty and execution. Other teams have far greater issues with their technique. It seems you’re blinded by more obvious aesthetically-pleasing technique, but don’t be fooled by flexibility and toe point when there’s so much more going on.
Now let’s go back to artistry. Again, I’ve stated artistry doesn’t have anything to do with technique, and that’s a fact written into the code of points. There are deductions for lack of artistry that come out of the e-score, but they’re entirely performance-based and have absolutely nothing to do with how technically proficient a gymnast is.
In fact, some of the most technically proficient – Kyla Ross in 2013, for example – have focused so much on the perfection of each skill that artistry is actually lost. When I was speaking with a top artistry/performance coach, she said it’s incredibly difficult at times to get the strongest technical gymnasts to be beautiful artistic gymnasts because they’re more concerned with hitting everything and that makes them more robotic in their approach to their performance. Their focus is on pleasing the e-panel rather than pleasing the crowd, and that can be very difficult to break, even if they do manage to pull in 9.0 e-scores.
Compare this to gymnasts who maybe rush through a leap and don’t hit 180 or don’t put as much attention into clean tumbling because they’re really feeling and performing their routines. Simone Biles is often pointed at as someone who isn’t always the greatest with her dance elements on floor, and several of the Dutch women struggle with tumbling elements, cowboying heavily on even the most basic double tuck. They’re so engrossed in the performances they’re giving to the crowd, some form does go unchecked at times, but they’re definitely not given hits for lack of artistry because of their form deductions.
There are certainly some gymnasts who lack artistry, but it’s a person-to-person issue, not necessarily an issue for an entire country (though some countries do have a large number of gymnasts who are natural performers). Of the U.S. routines, both Biles and Maggie Nichols have exemplary artistry, and Aly Raisman’s routine is also quite good; while she’s not as emotive as others, her choreography and music are a fantastic match and she performs very well, which is why the crowds are generally excited to clap along. Compare this to Russia’s floor line-up in team finals where Ksenia Afanasyeva is the only gymnast who truly performs, and this year, even she was lacking (event finals aside).
In conclusion, please know your facts next time you become inspired to insult an entire country of gymnasts.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins