It’s time for the 96th 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.
Would it be possible to compete a beam routine just consisting of turns and two jumps? You could get 1.5 CR from that, so if you hit a routine like that close to perfection, could you get a score in the 10s? I remember gymnasts scoring around there and lower at worlds last year.
Well, first off, the gymnasts who got a 10 or lower at worlds last year weren’t necessarily just doing turns and two jumps…most either had low difficulty in general, or a couple of falls, or got penalized for short exercises (i.e. when you count fewer than seven skills in your routine).
But moving on to your question about a routine with all turns, you could conceivably do something with mostly turns and two jumps and a dismount, hit three of the five CRs (you’d miss the flight series and the forward and backward acro requirements), and still come out with a pretty decent score if your turns are high level enough. So, say you do a split jump to sissone to knock off the connected dance elements requirement…and then for turns you could do a Mitchell (E), double L (E), 2.5 wolf (E), triple pirouette (E), 1.5 Y (D), illusion (D), scorpion (D), and then throw a D dismount to get 1.5 CR + 3.6 skills to equal a 5.1 d-score…and you could add on a tiny bit from there with connection bonuses if you connect any of these turns.
With a 5.1 d-score, a great routine would be around a 14 total, a decent routine would be around 13, and a routine with a fall would be around a 12…all well above the 10 you’re hoping for. I believe there is a variety deduction, so you could get slapped with that from the e-score panel, but yeah. I really hope you’re planning on becoming an elite gymnast who specializes on beam with routines that feature only turns.
So, when is your next book coming out? I’m dying to know what happens next! Do you have an idea of your release date?
It’ll be in July sometime! I’m having issues with the cover being done in time so I’m just editing and re-editing until I know when that will be cleared up. I was hoping for the week before U.S. Olympic Trials but now it looks like it won’t be until later in the month. The title is When It Counts and I’m excited for everyone to see what happens!
Is there a back-up plan for the Olympics? Brazil says it can’t pull off the Olympics due to economic crisis. I can’t find any statement by the IOC about a back-up plan, like hosting them in London or Madrid where they have the facilities and planners.
I haven’t heard of anything related to a back-up plan…usually something like that would’ve been decided long before now and I’m pretty sure the IOC does regular checks on the progress and while they haven’t been entirely pleased with how things are coming along, there hasn’t been anything from them saying it’s getting shut down and moved elsewhere. If that was the case, they would’ve made that decision way before one month out. The Games are happening in Rio, economic crisis or not.
What is your opinion on all of the Viktoria Komova controversies (claiming she deserved the all-around golds in 2011 and in 2012, and that both Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas were overscored)?
I always think that the girls who win the medals are the one who ‘deserved’ to win the medals they got. I don’t believe Jordyn and Gabby were overscored, and I think the finish was so close, it honestly shows how they were all really on the same level anyway. In 2011, it was going to be close no matter what. I think Jordyn’s mistake on bars inspired over-confidence in Viktoria and maybe caused her to get a bit lazy on her final two events, but while Jordyn had one large mistake with her form break on bars, her day was otherwise excellent whereas Viktoria ended up with lots of little mistakes that really added up. Viktoria wobbled on most of her beam skills and also had bad landings on all of her floor passes. The gold was hers to lose after the first two rotations, and with Jordyn easily able to make up that ground by killing it on her final two events, Viktoria probably thought “I have it in the bag” which is why her attention to detail on her own final two was kind of shoddy. Jordyn fought for it, Viktoria did not.
That same attitude followed her through to 2012, where she showed several times that she gives up far too easily on skills (most notably on her vault and beam in the all-around final) and we actually saw this in the 2015 team final as well, where she had a totally nonchalant “we still got this” attitude even going into the final rotation after falling twice. She always seems to realize too late that oh yes, these mistakes actually do matter. I remember her face all three times when assuming she’d clinched the wins in 2011 and 2012 and a team medal last year, and then seeing it turn to “oh crap” when things ended up not working out her way. It’s almost like she’s too confident in her lead or her ability to win, and doesn’t think she needs to fight for the little things, which is why she gives so much away…and each time, they come back to bite her. I think in 2012, she was easily the most talented gymnast in the all-around field. Again, I really think that gold medal was hers to lose, and she lost it because of how she performed, not because anyone else was overscored.
If Ksenia Afanasyeva misses Rio, who would you pick to join Aliya Mustafina and Angelina Melnikova for Team Russia?
Assuming Maria Paseka is back in good health and hitting her routines (she seemed to be getting there on vault this week, at least), I’d definitely take her. I’d also probably take Daria Spiridonova given that Viktoria Komova is also out (she’s earned the chance to fight for a bars gold with her nearly flawless performances between 2014 and now), and then I’d want Seda Tutkhalyan for that last spot. Even though she’s proven time and again that she can’t hit beam at major international meets, she might be worth the risk because if she does hit, it’s a huge score…and honestly, their beam is so weak right now, her scores with falls are better than almost anyone else’s scores with hit routines. Plus, she adds a decent enough DTY, one of their better floor scores (especially in the absence of Afanasyeva), and she showed in the Russian Cup all-around final just how good she can be when she goes four-for-four (though in event finals was like “just kidding” because she’s Seda and we can’t have nice things).
How will Martha Karolyi decide who will do the all-around in qualifications at the Olympic Games (besides Simone Biles)? Will it be primarily based on results from P&Gs or who finishes second at trials or a combination of both? Or will it be based on who has the highest d-score?
Well, the U.S. can have three all-arounders go up in qualifications, because it’s four-up three-count, so they won’t have to choose only two among the five. Most likely, she will choose similarly to how she decided in 2012. Even though four gymnasts then could do the all-around (Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, and Kyla Ross), she went with those who had the best all-around potential based on how they performed all summer between nationals and trials, and then used Ross as a specialist. This summer, because so many of the gymnasts are performing at about the same level, it’s not going to be an easy decision, which is why she’ll also likely be keeping a close eye on how they perform at the ranch as well as in podium training, and then make a last-minute decision, similar to how she decided at worlds last year when the choice for the third all-around spot was between Aly and Maggie Nichols. Sometimes in these decisions, because they’re so far ahead as a team, they sacrifice a good one-event score so an all-arounder can get in (like with Maggie’s bars being much stronger than Aly’s last year but Aly going up in qualifications because she was showing she was the stronger in the all-around), so it won’t necessarily be an easy decision like “okay, you’re the top three on beam, so you all go on beam.” Much more will factor in, especially with everyone so close, so I think it’ll just come down to whoever’s looking the most consistent.
What do you make of the discrepancy between Angelina Melnikova’s scores at Russian Championships and her scores at European Championships? The difference seems like a large variation despite there being no big mistakes at Euros.
The difference is that the first day of Russian Championships was so overscored, everyone there got fantasy scores, basically. The judges did a good job of getting their lives together on the second day, but I seriously went through and compared everyone – even the lower level girls who were earning around 52 and lower – and on average, there was a two point difference between all-around performances in qualifications and finals. Seriously, for almost every single competitor. Like, Seda Tutkhalyan was breaking 15 on floor when in reality she gets around 14.1 for that routine internationally when she hits. It was a dream score day for everyone. I do think Melnikova with a fully hit day is capable of getting around a 59, so her day two scores at Russian Championships seem pretty legit but yeah, whenever I look at the day one scores I’m like what were you doing?! The qualification day at that meet also acted as the team final, so maybe they were just going overboard for that sense, since there are a lot of rivalries between the different districts in Russia?
Similar to the stick bonus on vault, do you think the code of points should be redone to provide bonus points in scenarios where gymnasts perform skills flawlessly? I feel like the current code only encourages gymnasts to perform a skill in a way where they won’t get deducted heavily, which is different than gymnasts being encouraged to perform textbook skills. Should gymnasts that have that very good technical execution get a reward?
Technically a high execution score IS the incentive to perform textbook skills. Your incentive is to go out there and be perfect and get a 10.0 execution, which is why even without a stick bonus or a “perfect form” bonus, gymnasts still fight for that form and for those sticks. The threat of a one-tenth deduction for moving your feet on a landing when competitions are sometimes won by hundredths of points is more than enough to get girls working hard to hold onto those tenths and not give anything away. Even though it’s the opposite of a bonus system, it still works the same way. Like, a gymnast’s job on vault is to keep her legs together and body straight, get a good block and air time, point her feet, and nail the landing. The incentive of doing all of this perfectly is a perfect score. I don’t think they really need additional bonus incentives on top of that because gymnasts that have very good technical execution do get a reward – a higher execution score than someone without good technical proficiency. And that can really make a difference.
Is there a time limit on bars?
There is only a time limit if you fall. If this happens, a gymnast has 30 seconds to go re-chalk or adjust her grips or do whatever she needs to do in order to get mentally prepared to start again, and judges usually give a 10 second warning. If a gymnast doesn’t return within 30 seconds, a penalty is incurred. Though there is no routine time limit, only eight skills are counted into a routine, so that is limiting in a way. I think most routines end up being somewhere in the 35 second range on average, though you will get some that are a bit shorter and others that are seemingly endless. I think the fact that you have to be constantly swinging kind of acts as a self-timer, whereas on beam and floor where you can stop and pause, they use the timer to make sure you cram all of your skills in efficiently without waiting a full ten seconds from one skill to the next.
I am wondering which skill causes gymnasts to fall off beam the most, and then I wonder if it’s because they weren’t ready for it, or because this skill is the most difficult under pressure.
I did a kind of study on this a few years ago using one of the U.S. Classic meets and found that there was a mix of skills, not one in particular, that caused the most trouble. It probably depends on the gymnast and how nervous she is, because while it would seem that really difficult acro skills cause the most drama, often gymnasts who are fighting nerves tend to fall on things like leaps and full turns (like this year at nationals, Deanne Soza – who is normally fabulous on beam – fell on a switch leap, something she can probably do in her sleep). Sometimes there are falls when gymnasts introduce new elements they haven’t competed before…even though they’re ready for them in the gym, performing them on a podium in front of judges is a different story. The majority of coaches don’t have gymnasts chucking skills they can’t physically do, but something that looks great in the gym might not always translate to competitive routines, so this can account for some falls as well.
What are your thoughts on gymnasts who are unsuccessful in making it to the Olympics but stick around for the next quad, a la Alicia Sacramone? Do you think someone like Ashton Locklear, who doesn’t have a great shot at Rio, could potentially nab an event specialist spot for 2020 if she stays healthy? Is it too difficult to stay competitive for another four years?
I love when gymnasts give it another shot, which is why I’ve been so unbelievably impressed with MyKayla Skinner and Brenna Dowell in this quad. Both could’ve been like “that’s enough” after 2012, where Brenna didn’t make the Olympic team and MyKayla didn’t even make it to trials, but both came back better than ever the following year and continued to grow as gymnasts this quad. Even though team spots probably aren’t going to work out for them this year, they wanted another shot and they fought for it, which is amazing. Gymnastics isn’t all about making the Olympic team, and even if it doesn’t work out for you, the fight ends up being something you can be proud of, especially if it shows how far you’ve come. If MyKayla and Brenna gave up after 2012, they wouldn’t have world gold medals and wouldn’t have gotten to experience everything they did this quad.
So for Ashton or any of this year’s girls who miss out come back next quad, even if it’s not a direct path to the Olympics, there’s so much else they can accomplish along the way. It’s impossible to say right now whether Ashton could make it in 2020 because you never know (a) what would happen with her own physical/mental ability to compete, or (b) what the depth is going to be like and who’s going to come up and challenge her for a spot. Ashton might still be getting similar scores on bars, but you never know who will come out of the box between now and then. It’d be awesome to see her give it a shot next quad, but again, not knowing what that field will be like, I can’t say if she’ll make it or not. Four years ago everyone was saying Katelyn Ohashi and Lexie Priessman would lead this year’s team, so it’s probably best to just maybe not do super early predictions and get your hopes up about them.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins