You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


It’s time for the 84th 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 happened to Stefania Stanila? She seemed to disappear after 2014.

I heard that both she and Andreea Munteanu got very “teenager-y” last year and took on a whole “gymnastics is for nerds” mindset, where they wanted to be regular teens and not train as hard because their desires changed from wanting to succeed in gym to wanting to go shopping, date boys, whatever teens in Romania do for fun. Lots of teenagers go through that, especially when they hit 15 or 16 and the pressure starts to build. It was apparently really difficult to keep either of them motivated in training, and at the end of 2015, both Munteanu and Stanila were demoted from Izvorani to Deva because their routines were no longer considered elite caliber. Very sad, as both were super promising, but at least this all came on their own terms instead of getting dragged down by injury or illness as has happened to so many others this quad!

What is your opinion about all the vaults being downgraded starting in the 2017-2020 code of points? The Amanar is only going to be a 5.8 and the Produnova only a 6.4!

All of the vaults were downgraded so that they won’t be super high difficulty compared to the rest of the events. The other events are all seeing a decrease in the composition requirement, which is currently 2.5 points, but in the next quad it’ll be 2 points. Gymnasts lose five tenths on each event, so bringing vault values down by a similar margin will basically even everything out across all events. So if someone currently has a 6.3 VT and a 6.3 UB, in the next quad those same routines would be 5.8 and 5.8. Most vaults were devalued by about 0.3 to 0.6.

Which team at the test event will be a surprise qualifier for Rio?

I don’t think we’ll see a surprise, really…I think there are five teams out of the eight that have the strongest shot at qualifying, and those teams are Brazil, Germany, France, Belgium, and Romania. I think all four teams that get in will be from this group, so I guess I’d be really surprised if Australia, South Korea, or Switzerland made it in. Both Australia and South Korea are dealing with several injuries and Switzerland just doesn’t have the numbers, so I think it’d take a mini miracle to see any of them get in, honestly, but it’d be surprising for sure!

What is the process Canadian gymnasts have to go through to get selected for the Rio team? Do you think some of the girls are locks? What is their points system?

Basically, they have to compete at various competitions throughout the year, each of which is weighted at a certain percentage…I don’t know the exact percentages and don’t know if this is available online, but it’s something like your score at Elite Canada is weighted at 10%, Gymnix is 10%, a random international assignment is 20%, nationals are 35%, and the final selection camp is 25%…those aren’t the exact numbers but that’s how the system looks, where instead of straight up averaging all scores, they value the more important meets closer to the Olympics higher and they give a greater weight to those scores, so if you have a bad day at Elite Canada early on, it won’t count against you too much. They rank the girls based on their weighted points and use that system to guide their decision for the team.

I think Ellie Black and Isabela Onyshko are locks barring injury. Everyone else, it’s kind of insane because you have several new seniors like Rose Woo, Megan Roberts, Shallon Olsen, and now Meixi Semple in the mix, and then several super-experienced gymnasts who don’t have as much difficulty, like Victoria Woo, Kirsten Peterman, and Madison Copiak. (And then Brittany Rogers, who is close to a lock, but I won’t call her one yet because we’ve only seen elite exhibition routines from her so far this year.) From what I’ve heard, it’s going to depend on whether they want to take that experience with them, or if they want to risk the new seniors with bigger skills and routines. It’s definitely going to be a super tough selection process.

Can you break down the mythical Yurchenko double back? Why is it “almost” impossible for the current elite women, why is it considered dangerous, what’s the challenge in performing it correctly, and is it even listed in the code?

Basically getting two rotations off of the vault table is super difficult for women, who lack the upper body strength that the men have, which is why the handspring double tucks are also “almost” impossible for the current elite women. It’s dangerous because your rotation has to be perfect. That’s also true for a layout with multiple twists, but pretty much anyone at a high elite level can easily get a single layout fully rotated off the table, and then they build on that difficulty by adding twists. But when you’re talking about two full body rotations (which is really 2.5 because when you come off the table, you’re leaving from your hands so you have to do a half rotation before going into the two flips!) it becomes much more difficult given the limited amount of flight time. You need expert body awareness in the air because if you lose it even for a second, you can’t really balk at that speed. You’re going to hit the mat, hard, and if you make even a slight miscalculation or your hand slips but your body keeps going, you could land on your head or neck (similar to double backs off beam, like Carlotta Ferlito’s, only much worse because you’re coming in higher and faster).

As McKayla Maroney said in her interview with Gymcastic, if you start that vault, you either finish it, or you die. I think when talking to Aimee Boorman last summer, she talked about Simone Biles attempting them into the pit at times, and said she could PROBABLY do it somewhat decently, but there was just zero reason to risk something like that because you’re not risking a busted knee or a messed up ankle. You’re risking death. Eventually, yes, we could possibly see someone go for it. It’s not literally impossible. But it’s definitely something even the men who do it struggle with at times, and they generate much more power in general, so you’d really need someone like Simone with her power going for it.

Do you think Maggie Nichols helped or hurt her chances for Rio at the American Cup? She seems capable of much better D scores. Do you think she can replace some of her current skills on bars with more difficult elements? Why do you think she did a double AND a 2.5 wolf turn on beam? Why didn’t she compete her Amanar?

I don’t think she necessarily helped or hurt her chances…I think it was a good performance that didn’t scream anything like “YES I AM NOW A LOCK!” but it didn’t hurt her either. It was a solid and strong all-around performance resulting in a great score, especially considering she didn’t have the Amanar. I think with Maggie, she most likely reached her peak physical ability last year in terms of her skills and what she’s capable of, and bringing the Amanar out this early in the season could’ve been a serious risk to her body, though I think we’ll see it back by the summer. If she does upgrade, bars is likely where we’ll see it because she seems to be maxed out on beam and floor, but I didn’t hear her say she had any plans for upgrades there, so I’m not sure what to expect.

Her reasoning for doing two wolf turns on beam is basically just to build difficulty. The double is a D and the 2.5 is an E, so if it’s a skill she can do easily, it makes more sense for her to just add a second version of a wolf turn rather than adding an acro skill rated D or E that would be more difficult for her to hit consistently. She’s just playing to her strengths…yes, it’s a little bit of code-whoring, but it’s also smart because it works for her AND builds her difficulty.

I think Maggie is still very much in the running for Rio, especially because the judges at worlds really seemed to love her and favor her gymnastics last year, and I don’t think her American Cup performance really had any effect on her going or not going aside from maybe telling Martha “well, I hit another super consistent competition again, don’t you just love me?!” (Which is a pretty great thing to be able to say, honestly. Consistency is clearly a huge factor on a five member team.)

Why does the NCAA still use the perfect 10 scoring system rather than the Olympic/elite scoring? I love NCAA but it’s so hard to differentiate among the gymnasts who compete at a high level. Losing a team final by 0.2 seems ridiculous given that a judge could miss one flexed foot very easily and you lose the meet solely on human error. Thoughts?

From what I heard on a conference call with the twelve NCAA Championship team coaches last year, they all think the sport would die at the NCAA level if the scoring system changed. All of them wanted to see more differentiation in scores between routines of low and high difficulty (like, it’s a crime that Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto and Brittany Rogers have the same start value on bars), but none wanted to move to the open-ended system because it ruins the sport for fans. For them, the sport is more about the fans and bringing in hoards of fans getting in the spirit and screaming for routines and seeing a perfect 10 go up as they all wave their “10” signs in the crowd is part of that experience. It’s not the same seeing, like, a 15.7 going up. It seems like a petty reason to want to keep the old system, but I get it.

I do like that they made an effort to differentiate between weak and difficult routines over the past year, especially on vault, but also agree that there’s WAY too much ambiguity with these routines and judging is SO terrible, we saw a conference championship meet won this year by 0.025 when the second-place team actually had a better meet, so something definitely needs to be done. The human error at this meet was so bad, the gymnast had a landing where the deduction was worth 0.2 on its own, and yet one judge gave her a 9.95 for the routine! Seriously abysmal judging, and more variation in start value would definitely help. But until coaches want to give up the fan experience for more accurate scores, that’s the way things are going to be, unfortunately.

Does Oksana Chusovitina have a good shot at qualifying for Rio?

Yes, she has a very good shot! A very high percentage of individual gymnasts at the test event will earn spots…in 2012, only one or two gymnasts at the test event didn’t qualify, and it’ll be similar this year because the number of individual gymnasts there is nearly the same as the number of individual Olympic spots open (36 or 37 nations will compete for 34 individual spots, leaving two or three out). So far this year, Chusovitina has been performing very well, including a 54.725 all-around at the Houston National Invitational. That’s going to be at the higher end of individual competition in Rio next month assuming she hits there, but even if she does fall on an event, I still think she’s pretty much a lock.

What events should we keep an eye on as we head towards Rio?

Well, the most important is definitely the Olympic Test Event, held April 16-19 in Rio. I’d also pay attention to all of the domestic meets, like next week’s British and Russian Championships, the U.S. Championships, the Chinese Championships, Romanian Championships…these are all great ways to see who is leading in each country prior to choosing the Olympic teams. The U.S. Olympic Trials and Russian Cup  in July will also be big deals, and then in terms of international meets, European Championships is a big one, as is the FIG Challenge Cup series (with events coming up in Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Brazil, and Portugal). For more information, always make sure to check out our calendar, which links to coverage guides for every meet covered each season.

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


3 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Thank you so much for answering my questions on this one and the last one. Really appreciate it! Keep up the great work with the articles!


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