You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 75th 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.

Why do you think USA Gymnastics doesn’t invite gymnasts at a higher level to the American Cup? Everyone says this competition is “prestigious” but how can it be when the field is not really the “best in the world”?

They invite exactly who they’re supposed to invite as part of the world cup circuit, which is the top eight team finishers at the previous world championships this year, so the United States, China, Great Britain, Russia, Japan, Canada, Italy, and the Netherlands all received invitations.

For the 2016 American Cup, among these, the United States (naturally), Great Britain, Japan, Canada, Italy, and the Netherlands accepted, meaning there were three spots left to fill. At this point, the teams ranked 9th to 12th in qualifications get invitations, which included Brazil (accepted), France (did not accept), Belgium (did not accept), and Germany (accepted). One wild card gymnast from the host country is also allowed to attend, which is why the U.S. had two spots.

If the host nation still doesn’t have eight gymnasts between the top 12 teams and the wild card, however, then they look at the all-around rankings, going to gymnasts in the all-around final that weren’t represented by a team in the team final rankings. This wasn’t necessary for the American Cup, but if they needed to go beyond the team and wild card rules, Larisa Iordache of Romania would’ve been the first eligible gymnast from the all-around rankings.

So to answer your question, the U.S. follows the rules exactly when it comes to world cup invitations. It’s not that they’re inviting lower-ranked athletes, but that the invitations have to be somewhat evenly distributed and the top-ranked programs aren’t responding for whatever reason – injury, prior engagements, not wanting to travel halfway around the world at an awkward point in the season, etc.

As a side note, this year, there was also the issue of the Glasgow World Cup and the Stuttgart World Cup happening in the weeks directly following the American Cup. Since all three of these meets follow the same invite rules, that’s why you see most federations sending a different gymnast to each, so several gymnasts can get international experience opportunities leading up to the Olympic Games.

When was the last perfect 10 awarded at the Olympic Games?

The last perfect 10 went to Lavinia Milosovici of Romania at the 1992 Olympic Games. Milosovici earned a 10 for her performance on floor in event finals.

Now, it wasn’t literally perfect, and probably wouldn’t have even earned a perfect 10 in NCAA today, but it was still pretty stellar and is one of our favorites to go back and watch! 🙂 I love “Boogy Woogy Bugle Boy” so much.

I love your book Finding Our Balance so much, words can’t describe. I don’t typically read a lot but something about your book was so special I couldn’t put it down. As you must know by now, you are a very gifted author. When does the next book in your series come out?

Thank you so much! The next book comes out in April 2016.

If gymnasts do leaps and punch fronts/layouts/pikes, why don’t they do them out of vaults?

I think because one of the main scoring aspects of vault is the landing, since there’s not much else to it…just pre-flight, flight, and landing. Because punch-out skills and dance elements are often used to cover up bad landings on floor in addition to adding bonus, it would make it too easy for gymnasts to have perfect landings on vault. It’s a lot easier to stick a simple punch front out of a pass than it is to stick the pass itself, because the initial pass comes from a ton of power and momentum and the landing can be difficult to control, whereas a skill coming out of the pass is rebounded and therefore has less power, so it’s easier to control.

Taking this over to vault, a powerful block and the flight itself mean the gymnast has to be really talented at stopping this momentum with a controlled landing, and most gymnasts don’t stick big vaults, which is why it’s so awesome when you can see things like stuck Amanars or Rudis or other huge stuck vaults. Throwing on a leap or a front tuck or layout at the end would mean gymnasts would be able to cheat awkward landings by punching out and sticking the subsequent skill, which kind of defeats the purpose of vault since the landing is one of the main points of the event, whereas on floor you have a bunch of other different things going on.

It would be cool to see skills out of vault, like…I’d kind of love to see a DTY to loso or something. But yeah, vault is a high-scoring event as it is because there’s so little to deduct from, and connections would really make it way too easy for gymnasts to boost their execution even more by creating more opportunities to stick landings.

I think the closest we’ll see to this is when gymnasts throw punch-out skills out of timers…like Alicia Sacramone used to always do front handsprings out of her handspring timers, which I loved. Here’s a video I took of her front handspring front pike timer in 2012…Alicia comes in at the 36 second mark.

You can see even in this that she has so much power coming in on the front pike, there’s no way in heck she would’ve stuck that even if she tried. But doing a front handspring out of it added the illusion of control, turning a big landing deduction into no big deal.

Why is there so much hate for Shayla Worley?

I think people just like drama and so they take some of her personality quirks and past behaviors and turn them into sagas. Like, usually people say they don’t like her because she crowd-funded her trip to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, or because she apparently ‘partied’ on the post-Olympic tour, or because she talked highly about herself calling herself the next Kupets as she moved on to Georgia but then didn’t walk the walk and consistently made mistakes in her NCAA career. I think it’s hard to judge her without actually knowing her, so who knows…a lot of things about her are definitely unconfirmed stories and not things she actually did to people who have corroborated them, but yeah, I think at this point, her original haters are barely around and most people hate her based on stories they’ve heard from earlier generations, haha. It’s like the hate gets passed on and will never die.

What’s the deal with U.S. gymnasts going to international competitions and not taking any days off for weeks and weeks? It seems like since they usually take a day off each week, it’s a bit nuts to have them go as many days in a row as they seem to (and the gymnasts/coaches don’t seem thrilled about it). Does Martha Karolyi stick with this because it’s working? Is there any reason to believe they’d be worse off with a day off here and there?

I think it’s a little more lenient now, but I believe Martha’s idea was that they’re not in the gym as much when they’re at the ranch or away competing, so they go in every day instead of going in eight hours a day six days a week. I think Nastia Liukin once said that when you’re with Martha, you train nowhere near as much as you train when you’re home, but you train harder…but because the hours are so few, you’re expected to go in every day. And when you’re traveling with the team, I think the purpose is just staying in the zone for competition by getting into the training hall at least once a day. You’re also not bogged down by school or anything else but focusing on gym. I think the structure isn’t hurting anyone, so why change it? If anything it’s how hard they go in training, not how many times they’re there. Of course, a day off is refreshing and I think Martha does occasionally concede to this, but the U.S. women are consistent world champions so clearly her model is working.

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

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11 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1.  Wouldn’t Larisa Irodache have been the next athlete able to qualify to American Cup, not Steingruber since Romania wasn’t top 12 and she’s the highest AA finisher behind USA.

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    • Yes, sorry, that was just my Romania privilege shining through, which is when you just assume they’re in the team final when scrolling through a list and seeing their name even though you know they weren’t.

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  2. I would like to bring a foreign point of view about the American Cup. If foreign gymnasts don’t want to participate, it’s because the game has always been biased there : US gymnasts are obviously over-marked, and did you only heard the journalists comments on TV ? US gymnasts are the bests, the most beautiful, the most elegant, the most powerful, etc… And the comments about foreign gymnasts are always very condescend or even negative.
    Seriously, who would like to compete there, knowing that they have very little chance to win anything, and that the critics will never be fair ? There are many other prestigious tournaments, and I can easily understand that they prefer to compete somewhere else.
    The US public and media are not interested to watch a nice gymnastics competition, they are just interested to see the US on the podium. So be it, just compete by yourselves, then you can give yourselves as many compliments and medals as you want !

    Maybe the fact that the American Cup has been recently added to the official FIG World Cup will change things, especially judging, but it will probably take time.

    Now a compliment for the author of this page : half the questions are still specifically about the USA, but it’s better than the 90% you used to do ! 😉
    And we (gymnastics fans) appreciate the fact that you talk about “US gymnasts”, considering that America (or Americas, whatever) is a continent, not a country.

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    • For the American Cup I agree and disagree. The judging system is awful. The Us gymnasts get scores half a point higher with the same difficulty and execution of a foreign athlete. And then an international athlete gets very low scores. It does make sense to send them to a different World Cup where they can more or less eaily win instead of American cup where they don’t stand a chance, even if they do better. For media, it’s unfair to call out the US media for favoring the US athletes. In China, Russia, Romania, Great Britain, everywhere it’s the same story. All the general media only care about athletes for their own countries which kind of sucks, but that’s how it is. I do think that nbc who has Olympians shouldn’t be so condescending of foreign athletes and then start screaming as if Jesus Christ descended from the heavens when a top athlete from the USA does a good routine but I guess that’s how it is.

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      • International athletes who have competed at the American Cup on average receive more favorable scores at the American Cup than they do for the rest of their seasons, which is saying a lot given the time of year American Cup happens (i.e. when most gymnasts are coming back from hiatus). And the Americans are winning every competition right now, so wouldn’t they naturally win the American Cup as well? Do you really think Simone Biles getting a few extra tenths across the board due to favorable home scoring is the only thing that separated her from Erika Fasana last year, lol? Also, why are the Americans who are 7th or 8th or 9th best AT HOME winning or medaling at the world cups as well? Why did a C team of Americans win the team title at Pan Ams and why did a C team American almost win the all-around there as well (slash would have if she hadn’t made mistakes)? Why are Americans winning literally every international competition they enter? It’s ridiculous to blame home scoring for their wins when they win EVERYTHING.

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    • I answer the questions I’m sent in. It’s incredibly infuriating to be accused of catering to the US when I run a website dedicated to spreading knowledge about international athletes, covering over 100 meets last year including national championships in countries like South Africa and small invitationals in places like the Czech Republic that most websites haven’t even HEARD of, and it’s why I started “meet the elite” and “the new seniors” – to help people learn about the fantastic international athletes and programs they are missing out on because of the lack of coverage from every other website in existence. I’ve said it before – IF YOU WANT INTERNATIONAL QUESTIONS, ASK THEM. I’m not making up the questions. I’m answering what people send in and I actually delete a lot of the US questions because they’re repetitive and boring. I’m legitimately pissed off when people whine about this because I work harder than anyone spreading the international love and yet something I can’t control – the questions YOU PEOPLE ASK – gets called out as me being too pro-US.

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    • The American Cup has been a world cup event for five years and the changes between the 2010 and 2011 fields were VAST, and those changes continue to exist today. The MAJORITY of countries invited decide to attend. Only a few don’t, and it’s usually because of the distance involved given that the meet is only a single day and there is usually nothing else scheduled in the area around the same time making it worth sending an athlete.

      Also, I’d like to point out that the US women win the top medals at EVERY competition. Obviously they’re also going to win them in a weaker field at the American Cup. Like, it’s silly to suggest anything different? Are you also accusing world championships judges of being biased toward the Americans? No. It’s just that the US gymnasts are BETTER than everyone else right now. The Russians, Chinese, and Romanians don’t stand a chance at the American Cup, but they ALSO don’t stand a chance at worlds right now. Does that mean they just sit at home and decide not to attend?

      Scoring at the American Cup is inflated but it’s inflated for ALL of the gymnasts there, not just the US gymnasts. Mustafina’s Amanar score had nearly the same execution as Wieber’s in 2011 despite her vault being a mess in comparison. Last year, almost every gymnast competing got scores several tenths higher on average than they normally might. The judges are FIG international judges, not US judges, and if they were SO “pro USA” with their scoring and that’s the only reason the US women are winning, why then do the US women also win when they go to the world cups in Stuttgart and Glasgow? The US typically sends their worlds ALTERNATES to those meets, so like the 7th best in the country, and they still end up either winning or medaling at every single world cup they attend because the US alternates right now are stronger than the best gymnasts in many international programs. Nia Dennis was the ninth-best all-arounder in the US last year and she’s going into the Stuttgart world cup as the strongest all-arounder in an international field that includes all worlds competitors from their respective countries. She didn’t even get a worlds alternate or non-traveling alternate spot in the US! So you can’t say that the fields are only weak here. The US gymnasts win because they are the best in the world right now, and if that makes people whine and say “how unfair” then don’t blame the American Cup judges. Blame the programs in these other countries for not prepping the majority of their gymnasts to match that standard.

      Also, as for semantics, the United States is a country and US gymnasts is correct, but calling them Americans is also correct because it’s the “United States of AMERICA” as the official name and it’s correct to call people from the USA both names. Obviously America is also a continent and it would be incorrect to call the country “America” but the term “Americans” to describe people from the US is correct.

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      • I’m not denying that the US athletes deserve the wins at the American cup. The scoring is inflated but when I say inflated, I don’t mean exclusive to the American gymnasts, it’s that the foreign gymnasts score lower in a relative sense, not in general. A lot of times judges take into account scores from the past, as the judging panel always has a few judges that have scored previous World Cup competitions. So if for example mustafina scores an inflated 15.6 on bars on one competition and does a better routine the next that deserves a 15.5, the judges will have a hard time giving anything less than a 15.6 and that goes for any gymnast. I felt that at Glasgow the Americans were getting ridiculously high scores that carried on to a lot of their routines. The fact that they got 8.8s for routines that had obvious errors while other athletes got an 8.6 for a routine that had less obvious errors was shocking. I mean Simone’s EF and Sannes qualifying beam routines had the same E score even though Simone had more breaks. I’m not saying Simone had a bad beam routine, it was amazingly clean for the most part, but t shouldn’t have had the same E score that sanne had. Komova is my favorite gymnast, but her beam was super inflated. She nearly fell off the beam right at the beginning of her routine and broke the flow and connection in the process and scored close to a 9. It doesn’t make sense to say (as for your blog) that you favor American gymnasts because you’re blog is my go to for international news and competition coverage so I applaude you for that.

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  3. No competition is legitimate without Romania, Russia or China…Russia refuses to compete after the 2011 American Cup where they thought it was completely unfair that Jordyn was allowed to compete and won…I’m sure if Mustafina won, a Russian would be at the American Cup every year.

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    • Plenty of competitions exist without the big four and are still “legitimate.” Russia whining about not winning doesn’t single-handedly take away a meet’s prestige, and I was at the American Cup in 2011 in the mixed zone speaking to Aliya via her translator. Aliya herself said after the American Cup that she deserved silver because she wasn’t at her best (and her Amanar at that meet was grossly overscored, and she also commented on the fact that she was relieved for scoring as well as she did there because she didn’t think she was going to). They have zero all-arounders who can contend against the Americans right now anyway, so I don’t see how the name brand “Russia” being slapped into a competition somehow makes it more real.

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