It’s time for the 104th 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 Jaly Jones?
She was sidelined by injury this year, but has the goal of doing elite and reaching 2020. She was very young (only 11) when she attempted to qualify last year, and then this year tried again but I think she broke her wrist from what I remember, and only went to one qualifier in March, where she got a 47.95 all-around. This summer, she moved from Iowa GymNest to Iowa Gymnastics Academy, and hopefully things will go better for her as she continues to try to qualify in the future.
I was just wondering if any gymnast has ever won the all-around and all four individual medals at any one competition? Has anyone ever done it at worlds or the Olympics?
At a few smaller international competitions and at some domestic meets, it can happen somewhat often especially in countries where you have one standout gymnast and then others who don’t come near her level (Giulia Steingruber swept Swiss nationals this summer with the all-around and all four event titles, for example…and some of her routines were downgraded!).
It’s never been done at worlds or the Olympics, though. The record gold medals for women at a single Olympics is four, first achieved by Agnes Keleti and Larisa Latynina in 1956 and then matched by Vera Caslavska in 1968, Ecaterina Szabo in 1984, and Simone Biles in 2016. For worlds, the record gold medals is five, first achieved by Vlasta Dekanova in 1938 and then matched by Larisa Latynina in 1958.
Why didn’t Larisa Iordache get an individual bid to Rio since she won the bronze in the all-around final last year?
The only automatic bids for medals at worlds the year before the Olympics go to event medalists, not all-around medalists. Since all-arounders have more chances and spots to qualify into at the test event, they reserve those individual medal spots specifically for specialists who would have really no other shot to qualify if they’re not all-arounders as well. I think it’s a bit unfair, because in Iordache’s case, she was one of the best all-arounders in the world but got injured this year and her federation didn’t think she would challenge for a medal in Rio. Honestly, they were right about that, because her injury really limited what she was able to get back…and it could’ve gone either way between Iordache and Catalina Ponor for that spot because neither was a real medal contender on any event. However, I still think one of the proven best all-arounders in the world should deserve to be at the Games through winning a medal the previous year so it’s a shame that Iordache didn’t get that chance.
Would someone who won an individual medal at worlds still go to the Olympics if they weren’t named to their country’s team (i.e. had Pauline Schäfer not made Germany’s team, would she keep her spot from her beam medal)?
No. If you win an event medal at worlds and your country doesn’t qualify a full team, then you get to go because of your medal, but if you earn an event medal and your country qualifies a full team either directly at worlds or later on at the test event, it doesn’t matter if you won an individual medal – you need to actually make your country’s team. So when Schäfer initially won her beam medal, Germany hadn’t yet qualified a full team. If Germany fully imploded at the test event and missed qualifying as a team, they would’ve qualified an all-around spot and then Schäfer would get to go as the event medalist from worlds (this happened with Vietnam in 2012, where Phan Thi Ha Thanh went to London as the reigning world vault bronze medalist while Do Thi Ngan Thuong qualified through her all-around test event performance). But once a country gets a full team at the Games, any individual qualifiers don’t matter.
What are the rules for the alternates at the Olympics? How late can a gymnast be substituted in?
They have up until 24 hours before they compete at qualifications, from what I remember (it could be more…24 hours was the rule at one competition so forgive me if I’m mis-remembering). Either way, once they reach that point, an alternate can not be credentialed in as an official Olympian, so even if one gymnast is injured on a team during qualifications, that team has to go to team finals with what they have (compare that to worlds last year where Vanessa Ferrari competed in qualifications for Italy but then was swapped out for the alternate before the team final because she was dealing with injuries).
Why do you not cover men’s events?
I’m actually beginning coverage of men’s events for the new quad. I’ll focus on major competitions for seniors only to start out, so worlds, world cups, some national meets, and then of course the Olympics in 2020. In the past, I simply didn’t have enough time to take it on…believe it or not, covering the women sometimes took up 40+ hours a week, especially this year when we sometimes had seven competitions in a single weekend. Because I am a single human person running things, shockingly I do not have 80+ hours a week to spend on gymnastics coverage, given that I also have a full time job and at least a faint semblance of a life outside of sitting on my computer all day. But for this quad, I’ll be working more closely with a few little magic elves who will help me out with some of the more administrative things that have to be done for the site, meaning I’ll have more time for actual coverage, and can include covering the bigger men’s meets in what I do.
When was the jump transition from the low bar to the high bar taken out of the code of points?
I believe it was first introduced as a deduction in the 2006-2008 code of points. This is when emphasis was first placed on having low-to-high flight between bars, which I think could’ve been a result of all of the new between-the-bars elements introduced in the previous couple of quads (all of the new variations of Shaposhnikovas, for example). Because the squat-on or sole circles into the jump up to the high bar kind of break up the flow of the routine, they were no longer favored and 2004 was the last time we saw anyone really use them at the highest levels (Terin Humphrey actually won her bars silver with a sole circle into the jump transition). It also makes sense that it was introduced at the same time of the new code of points that highlighted difficulty, as the difficulty of this skill wouldn’t be very much at all.
Why don’t the Olympics allow for a tie?
I actually have no idea because other sports at the Olympics DO allow for ties, so I don’t know why gymnastics can’t. I know it’s not an FIG decision because they allow for ties at worlds and everything…obviously, as we learned on bars last year! I’d like to think if the IOC said “yes, you can have ties” the FIG would allow them, so it must be coming from someone above them. I don’t know why that is, however, and I will forever be peeved about the multiple tie-breakers in 2012.
What happened to Vanasia Bradley?
She got injured after her 2013 season and spent two years recovering, not returning to training until the spring of 2015. She competed level 10 this year, placing seventh all-around at states, and she hopes to return to the elite level in 2017. She has also verbally committed to the University of Florida for the 2017-2018 season.
Who do you think would have made the team if all gymnasts from the U.S. trials in 2012 and 2016 were in contention at their highest potential this year?
I’d probably have Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, and then for the final spot, either McKayla Maroney or Madison Kocian. Of these two, I’d personally probably take Kocian for her bars, but if they were going after a more sure-thing event gold, I could see them going with Maroney since she really was expected to be the biggest sure-thing gold medal EVER and literally no one questioned it until she fell.
Why is Caitlin Smith not getting higher scores at the Classics when she does well at elite qualifiers?
It could just be that her performances are better at the qualifiers? Like, maybe she gets more nervous at the Classics and doesn’t do as well as her potential. Whenever I’ve seen her compete at the U.S. Classic she typically always has falls, which is why her scores are lower there, but if she didn’t fall her scores would be pretty decent and would be borderline at reaching nationals qualification scores.
Why is Romania consistently weak on bars? Can they not get specialist coaches?
I think not having good bars coaches definitely has something to do with it, especially at the lower level when they’re all initially starting out and learning their bars skills. Good foundations are what make the strongest bar workers today…some Romanians actually have pretty good skills and connections on bars, but they don’t have the technique to make these things look good. I think they need to start focusing more on bars with the younger kids, and then obviously they need better bars coaches in elite as well, but it’s all about the foundations. You can’t do big elite skills correctly without those building blocks.
Why don’t more Americans do two vaults to qualify into vault finals?
I think it’s just because they are busy focusing on everything else. Martha Karolyi generally selected the strongest all-arounders for her teams, girls strong on at least three of the four events so they could sub in basically anywhere in team situations if their teammates got injured. In other countries with less depth, they have the room to work on second vaults because they don’t necessarily have to be top all-arounders to make their teams. I know Aly Raisman in her comeback started training basic front handspring vaults, but then eventually ended up not going anywhere with them because she had so much else to worry about, training a second vault would’ve taken away from her preparation elsewhere. Raisman MAYBE could’ve made the team this year with two vaults and a high-level floor routine, but that’s exactly how MyKayla Skinner attempted to make this year’s team and in the end, the stronger all-arounder won out even though Skinner would’ve pretty easily made the vault medal podium in Rio.
It’s kind of fun to see Steve Nunno back at it, like a blast from the past! Do you think he’ll continue on and take in other elites aside from Emily Gaskins?
Maybe! I’m sure if someone went to him and asked him to be her coach, he’d take them in, given that this is his job as a coach of a high-level gym. And I’m sure if he has lots of home-grown talent at his gym, he definitely wouldn’t be opposed to helping them climb up the ranks to elite.
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. Keep in mind, we sometimes get about 50 questions a day and can only answer usually around 30 or so a week, so don’t be discouraged if we don’t get to you right away. We do not answer questions about team predictions nor questions that say “what do you think of [insert gymnast here].”
Article by Lauren Hopkins