It’s time for the 72nd 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.
How was the Olympic order determined? How is competing in the Olympic order – vault, bars, beam, floor – advantageous for gymnasts? Is it linked to stamina, with more exhaustive events being separated? Or more of a mental test, with beam later on so nerves don’t affect performance?
I can’t say for sure if there was any true thought given to Olympic order, like, “we’ll make vault first because of this and blah blah blah” though I think it makes sense to start on a quick event that you can knock off in a few seconds, and I think it also makes sense to end on a performance event, where your adrenaline’s likely to be at the highest and you can use that to your advantage to finish strong…and it also makes sense to have the two events where falls are most common smack in the middle, since they’re often nerve-wracking which can cause problems if you’re beginning or ending on them.
I don’t know if that went into the decision of determining Olympic order, but it makes sense to me and those reasons are why I think it’s advantageous to gymnasts. I definitely think it’s more of a mental test rather than anything else, though truly, most gymnasts get used to starting and ending on pretty much every event, and then when you get to NCAA and are on a visiting team and have to do bars-vault-floor-beam, your whole life is basically thrown out of whack so I don’t think most gymnasts really totally lose their minds if they don’t get to compete Olympic order. But those who qualify as the top two teams or top six individuals in finals at the world, continental, or Olympic level do get to use that structure to their advantage.
If anyone can tell us if there was a real decision-making process behind this, I’d love to hear it!
Where did Margzetta Frazier and her sister end up?
They are now at First State Gymnastics in Delaware, which is where Morgan Hurd trains.
What do you think about Simone Biles not competing in the American Cup this year?
I think it makes sense…to me, she’s already a huge deal and the American Cup media coverage is insane. Like, in 2012, dozens upon dozens of members of the press were there to follow the action, and then a month later at Pac Rims, it was me, Gymnastike, and the Gym Examiner. NO JOKE. If you think Jordyn Wieber was under a ton of pressure coming into the Olympic year, it’s that times a billion for Simone coming in as a back-to-back-to-back world champion and she doesn’t need the added insane media pressure on top of everything else.
The ‘battle’ between Simone and Gabby Douglas at worlds was one thing…first, it wasn’t really a fair fight since Simone was so far ahead even with mistakes there was never a real question of who would win, and also, even though it was a big deal to have the reigning world and Olympic champions square off, the mainstream press was still pretty far-removed since it wasn’t the Olympic year and wasn’t happening on U.S. soil so there was no one there to turn it into a ridiculously hyped and over-dramatic event.
But the American Cup in the Olympic year for some reason is looked at in the U.S. as bigger than worlds? After the Games and Olympic Trials, the American Cup is basically the hugest deal. And I think if you put Simone versus Gabby up this year and Simone didn’t happen to do her best because it’s the off-season and she’s focusing on August, not early March, then the backlash she’d get would be ridiculous…just like the backlash Jordyn got in 2012 for unofficially losing to Gabby. I think it makes sense to send two of the best with Gabby and Maggie Nichols going, because then you still have a good fight but you’re also not opening the doors to “DID SIMONE PEAK?!?!” if she doesn’t have a perfect meet. Gabby has the excuse of being still freshly back to the sport and Maggie has the excuse of being the underdog, kind of like this year’s Aly Raisman, but if Simone did American Cup and didn’t nail every routine the backlash from the uninformed mainstream press would be over-the-top ridiculous.
Meanwhile, she could show up at Pac Rims and fall 50 times if she wanted to, and no one would know or care. It’s still an important meet in Martha Karolyi’s eyes so she’ll want to do great work, and it gives her an extra month or so to prepare…but at the end of the day, no one outside the gymnastics community is paying attention and she can ease her way into the season with her mind on nothing but Rio.
Now, of course, this is just my reasoning, but it definitely makes sense to kind of “protect” Simone from the media frenzy when she’s already under more pressure than anyone. I’m sure she would’ve had a great meet, as she always does, but this will give the strong Rio contenders who need more all-around experience leading up to the Olympics a chance to get out there and continue to prove themselves while giving Simone a bit of a break in terms of the crazy pressure she’s under.
I believe Karolyi and the U.S. program had to offer her the spot based on her finish at worlds, however, so it’s most likely that all of the decision-making behind not taking it came from Simone and her coach Aimee. Or maybe Simone knew Maggie was next in line and wanted to give her an early birthday gift? :-p It’s all speculation but the decision definitely came down to Simone.
Do you think Kyla Ross has a shot at the Olympics? I believe she does because the U.S. lacks girls who have a solid bars and beam combo in contrast to Madison Kocian and Norah Flatley who are great on one but insignificant on the other.
I do. I think she’s still one of the country’s best beam workers, and hope she can work out her issues on bars because I definitely think she can come in again this year and fulfill a role similar to the one she had in 2012. I think you’re right about Madison being very good on one but not on the other, though Norah I think is going to surprise you with her bars ability this year and will probably be Kyla’s biggest rival, assuming Kyla is back in top shape on both.
Norah is training tons of bars upgrades and we haven’t seen her in nearly a year, so I think when Chow unleashes her as a senior, we’ll all be incredibly surprised with what she’s added. Her style of bars is different from most American routines and allows her to rack up difficulty without over-exerting on big and risky releases, so I think if she’s hitting all of these new skills this spring, she can be a very interesting choice for that same spot Kyla would be up for. Of course, she’s had consistency issues on beam in the past, but I tend to trust Chow and think we should expect big things from Norah this year.
Why did Gabby Douglas compete on beam in team finals instead of Jordyn Wieber at the 2012 Olympics? Gabby had a history of falls while Jordyn came in as a world bronze medalist on the event. Did Martha Karolyi want to take the pressure off given Jordyn’s disappointment in qualifications?
Kyla Ross actually went in over Jordyn, since Kyla was the lead-off gymnast in qualifications and therefore was the one added to the finals lineup. Gabby was always part of the lineup, and though she’d had struggles there in the past, tended to hit well under pressure, especially in a team event. Jordyn was scrapped because she should’ve had about a 6.6 start value but with her slow connections, only ended up receiving a 6, which knocked her score down to the lowest beam score among the Americans, including lower than Kyla, who came in with a 6.1 start value and was expected to bring in a consistent, but lowest-scoring routine for the Americans.
With the way the judges scored their beam routines in qualifications, however, Kyla’s execution put her over the top and it became more of a risk to put Jordyn up, as she was now the lowest-scoring beam worker on the U.S. team. Gabby, meanwhile, received her full start value in qualifications (she usually hovered between 6.2-6.4 but got the full 6.5 on that first day in London) and was executing well both in qualifications and in training. She finished top on the beam among the Americans in qualifications, so why wouldn’t you use her?
Why don’t China or Russia choose to attend the American Cups?
Typically because it’s at an awkward point in the season (the very beginning of the elite season where no one’s really at their strongest) and it’s a long way to travel. Some smaller programs will send their top gymnasts for the experience of competing in a world cup meet (especially because there’s prize money involved), but generally the top programs don’t want to send their strongest gymnasts such a distance for just a single-day meet, especially in the Olympic year when there’s so much else to think about. I remember when Lauren Mitchell came to the American Cup and was just so exhausted from the flight, she ended up having a really rough performance and fully said she was just way too tired and never adjusted to the time zone. It’s not like worlds, where you can come two weeks early to adjust and have two weeks of podium training and competition. I think the other World Cups are more popular among Europeans because they’re more centrally located, and so they tend to be bigger battles between more top gymnasts, especially back when they were held in November/December and the elite season wasn’t yet on hiatus…whereas the American Cups are seen more as a way for the larger programs to give all-around experience to lower-ranked gymnasts, and then for the smaller programs to send their top competitors to hopefully contend for a medal or earn the monetary prize (like Jessica Lopez was successful in doing last year).
Can you explain what “inbars” means?
Inbars are stalder circles around the bar but with the gymnast’s legs in a piked position rather than a straddle.
Here’s a video of Olivia Dunne training an inbar. You can see when she swings around the bar, her body reaches a full pike position where her body is bent basically in half to the point where her legs almost touch her face. My big complaint with inbars is that some gymnasts don’t pike down enough, making their inbars look more like toe-ons, which is when you do a pike circle around the bar with your toes touching the bar. The Russians tend to have really nice piked inbars, and Olivia’s in this video is lovely as well.
For comparison, here’s Morgan Hurd doing a stalder. She does the same motion around the bar as Olivia, but her legs are in a straddle position rather than a pike. Think of a straddle as like a pike but with your legs in a V rather than together, so a gymnast is still basically bending in half during the swing but the legs are open in a straddle before pressing to handstand.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins