You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


It’s time for the 74th 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.

What’s going on with the Trinidad & Tobago qualification process to the test event? I thought it was supposed to be whoever finished higher in the all-around at worlds?

The test event gymnast is not nominative so the gymnast qualifies a spot for the country at the test event, not for herself. Thema Williams was the stronger all-arounder than Marisa Dick at worlds, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she gets the automatic bid. I think in this situation, someone prematurely announced that Dick would attend the test event in Rio, and then Williams’ mother said that the T&T Gymnastics Federation told the gymnasts that they would have to face two internal competitions to earn the spot, but then in November, the TTGF decided Williams will definitely travel to Rio for the test event.

Is there a process for an NCAA gymnast to get a skill named for them? Does this happen?

They don’t name skills at the NCAA level. They do, however, name skills at the J.O. level in the U.S. and there are some pretty cool skills out there…like, in 2006 a U.S. gymnast was doing a piked Hindorff about four years before Becky Downie got it named for her, and J.O. gymnasts also have skills named that aren’t in the international code of points, like the Weiler full, a gainer tuck with two twists off the end of the beam, and a double back on floor with 1.5 twists in the first flip, named for Shilese Jones, a current U.S. junior elite who had the skill named for her at J.O. nationals in 2014 when she was just 11.

What do you think the following gymnasts should focus on to make them Rio-worthy in Martha’s mind — Norah Flatley, Maggie Nichols, Mykayla Skinner, Kyla Ross, Ashton Locklear, Brenna Dowell, and Madison Kocian?

Norah- bars and beam
Maggie- vault, bars, and floor
Mykayla- vault and floor
Kyla- bars and beam
Ashton- bars and beam
Brenna- vault, bars, and floor
Madison- bars and beam

I think all should definitely train all four events, because Martha Karolyi is known for being fond of all-arounders, who always tend to get the nod over true specialists who straight up don’t train certain events. Like, I think someone like Ashton would do better in Martha’s eyes with basic vault and floor sets in addition to a stellar bars and solid beam than she would if she came in only with two events.

The same goes for anyone on this list. In a year where you can have six on the team, one gymnast who doesn’t train a couple of events is fine, but when you can only bring five gymnasts to the Olympics and have them compete in a 5-3-3 format, you need five gymnasts who can do all five events just in case something happens. But the above events are the events on which I think these gymnasts are strongest, so in addition to training a consistent all-around set, they should make these their focus for standing out as a top three gymnast who could contribute in a team final.

Hypothetical scenario: gymnasts A, B, and C represent the same country at the Olympics. A and B qualify into event finals, and C’s score is high enough to make her the first reserve but because of the two-per-country rule, that spot goes to gymnast D from another country. But then B gets injured and can’t compete. Who gets to compete in the final?

This actually happened in 2015 with Vanessa Ferrari performing in qualifications but her injury requiring her to withdraw from finals, so I’ll use that as an example. In this example, Carlotta Ferlito and Ferrari qualified to the all-around final in 17th and 18th, while Tea Ugrin finished in 25th. Without the two-per-country rule, she would’ve been the first reserve, but because of the two-per-country rule, both Elisabeth Seitz of Germany and Isabela Onyshko of Canada – who finished 26th and 27th – made it into the all-around final, and Eythora Thorsdottir of the Netherlands was the first reserve in 28th place. When Ferrari withdrew, it meant Italy only had one in the final, so Ugrin bumped back into the mix as the first reserve and got to compete in the final. Had Ferrari withdrawn but Ugrin or the top Italian next-in-line was down in, like, 40th or something, Thorsdottir would’ve gone in.

On floor, the front double tuck and the arabian double tuck are given the same value of E. Why, then, is the double front off beam an F but the arabian dismount is a G?

You can’t really cross-compare between the two events because while the skills seem similar, they’re not identical, with floor making certain skills a bit easier since they’re done with a great deal of momentum as opposed to beam, where you get a starting height of four feet off the ground but you don’t get the same air height off the end of the beam that you would out of a roundoff back handspring on the springy floor mat.

On floor, those two skills might be considered about the same level of difficulty, whereas on beam, a double front is likely the ‘easier’ skill because there’s no twist in it whereas the arabian double tuck is difficult because the half twist into the front double tuck off the beam makes it more difficult to rotate the two flips around coming from the balance beam.

For a similar example, the double tuck and the double pike are both D skills on floor, and yet as beam dismounts, the double tuck is a D whereas the double pike is an E. While a majority of gymnasts on floor can get the punch needed to rotate both relatively easily, coming off of beam, it’s a little bit more difficult to get the double pike around than it is to get the double tuck.

Why did Ashley Priess give it all up at worlds?

I don’t think I understand the wording of this question. Like, why didn’t she have a great day? Some people happen to have a bad day when it counts, and unfortunately for her, that moment came at the 2006 World Championships qualifications. She went into that worlds as sixth-best in the country, and Martha Karolyi ended up taking the top six to worlds, so it’s not like she went in as a front-runner and didn’t live up to expectations. Her only real struggle at worlds came with a fall on beam, and she otherwise performed about as well as she did at home…but she just didn’t happen to have a top three score on any event, so they didn’t use her in the team final. Also, even with her fall, she was ninth-best in the world in all-around qualifications.

Do you know of any successful artistic gymnasts who became successful in other disciplines or sports? “Successful” refers to someone who went to the Olympics or worlds.

Hmm, the only one fresh in my mind who transferred sports and was expected to make the Olympics was Lais Souza of Brazil going from artistic gymnastics to aerial skiing…though that dream was cut short when she was paralyzed while training shortly before the 2014 Olympic Games.

I can’t think of any other Olympic gymnasts who also competed in another Games in a different sport. Amy Chow had a successful diving career, though didn’t go to the Olympics…Hilary Grivich, a 1991 world medalist and part of the ‘Karolyi six pack,’ moved on to diving after she didn’t make the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team in 1992, and she was training for the Sydney Olympic Games as a diver, but was tragically killed in a car accident in 1997.

Often when gymnasts change sports, they translate well to aerial skiing (like Ashley Caldwell, a former gymnast who was the youngest U.S. Olympian in 2010 at age 16 and competed again in Sochi 2014), diving, and pole vaulting, due to the various similarities between them and gymnastics.

If you can think of anyone else, let us know in the comments! Thank you Izzy for reminding us of Australia’s Alex Croak, who competed as a gymnast at Sydney 2000 and then as a diver at Beijing 2008. Australia actually has quite a few who have transitioned. Meredith shared that former elites Lydia Lassila and Alyssa Camplin are medalists in aerial skiing, a sport former worlds team member Georgia Wheeler has also taken up after retiring from gymnastics in 2013.

Who do you think will make the Canadian team in Rio? Do both Woo sisters have a chance?

Right now, I think outside of Ellie Black, it’s really hard to say, because they have a lot of depth and a ton of new seniors who can all factor into the equation. Among the seniors with big experience, I think Isabela Onyshko and Brittany Rogers have the best shots, and then in the new senior pool, Rose Woo, Shallon Olsen, and Megan Roberts all have major potential. I don’t think Victoria Woo has as strong of a shot as her sister does, as she tends to be a bit inconsistent and needs some upgrades on all four events…but you never know what can happen! She can definitely step up when she needs to and I was impressed with her at worlds this year, but I don’t know if I could fit her onto a five-member team with this much depth.

I feel like there are many Canadians who are decent and have experience but really need to work on upgrades and consistency, including Victoria Woo, Sydney Townsend, Kirsten Peterman, Maegan Chant, Audrey Rousseau, Madison Copiak, Jordyn Pedersen, etc…none are at the top of my list right now, but again, you don’t know if they’re going to come out and peak this year. There’s also Sabrina Gill (my secret hope!) and Aleeza Yu coming back from injury…there’s just so many in the program who could do great work but there’s also a somewhat clear distinction between ‘the best’ and ‘the rest.’

At the moment, I’d probably take Black, Onyshko, Rogers, Rose Woo, and then a strong floor gymnast in the last spot. I could see that being Olsen, Roberts, or Chant right now.

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

15 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. That Ashley Priess question was certainly out of the blue. For a second, I genuinely thought there was some kind of Stick It situation at 2006 Worlds that I didn’t know about.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe they meant why did she retire from from elite right before Nationals in 2008? If I remember correctly, she had an excellent shot at being the “bars specialist” but I think she was just mentally done.


  2. I thought Phoebe Mills had gone to the Winter Olympics in snowboarding, but it looks like she was actually an Olympic judge in snowboarding. That almost counts!

    Also, I’d say that Jen Sey becoming CMO of Levi’s is the corporate equivalent of making an Olympic team.


  3. She didn’t compete at the Olympics but Lilia Pokopayva (sorry for the crappy spelling, on cell) competed at a high level of Ballroom dancinf


  4. Pole vaulter Svetlana Feofanova, who won the silver medal in pole vault at the 2004 Olympics, had been an alternate for the Russian gymnastics team for the 1996 Olympics. Her compatriot Yelena Isinbayeva, who won the gold on pole vault at the 2004 Olympics and has set 28 world records in that sport, had also trained as an elite gymnast before growing too tall.


    • Yes, pole vaulting requires a lot of upper body strength and body awareness. Many of the successful pole vaulters have previously been gymnasts.


  5. This is irrevalent but anyone know a good rhythmic gymnastics website ? I know if is a small sports in us but just hope someone will run a RG website as good as gymternet. My daughter is doing RG and I definitely want tolesgn more about it.


  6. News on Laiz Sousa! She’s actually trying to run for the torch relay for the rio olympic games. Although I don’t know how she will do it.


  7. Not your standard sport, but I think Kacy Catenzaro getting through the Ninja Warrior course as the first woman to do so is a damn great accomplishment!

    Personally I think the segue from Level 10/elite gym to rock climbing should be made more often after gym retirement – now that climbing is going Olympic and bouldering is getting enough X Game attention, I reckon that might start to happen. There’s soooooo much crossover in the required strength:weight ratio + tight flexibility with good control.


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