It’s time for the 107th 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 would the elite score be for Bridget Sloan’s 2016 floor routine?
Well, it would depend on how it was performed as well as what her D score would be, so let’s look at that first. Her NCAA floor routine this year included a 1½ through to 2½, a switch half to straddle full, a double pike, and a 1½ to front layout. She misses the D+ dismount requirement because she only does a C dismount, so she only gets 0.3 for this composition requirement instead of a 0.5, and she also doesn’t get the leaps CR because she does a leap to a jump and jumps are specifically not allowed under this requirement. Her total CR is 1.8.
As for skills, she has seven in her routine, but only six that would be counted because she does the 1½ twice. Her tumbling elements are rated as D, D, C, and B while her dance elements are rated as C and C. Adding these up, you get 1.9 total. Looking at connections, she’d get a tenth for the first pass, so her CR plus elements plus connections would equal a 3.8 D score.
Now, since she’s technically strong at this routine, let’s say she gets a 9.0 execution. That would make her total score around a 12.8, give or take a few tenths depending on how well she hit on a given day. However, I *think* because she only counts six elements in her routine, the judges would only be able to start out at a 6.0 instead of at a 10.0 for her E score (routines with 5-6 elements performed are considered a short exercise and basically start off with this four-point penalty). In that case, the max she could get for this routine would be an 8.8 total. (I don’t think a back handspring or roundoff on floor counts into a routine’s difficulty, but if it does count as an allowed element, there is no penalty for a short exercise. I know these skills count as A skills on beam but for some reason I’m thinking they don’t count on floor? Either way, without the short exercise penalty she’d have around a 12.8 and with the penalty she’d get around an 8.8).
If she made a couple of tiny changes like replacing her last pass with a front double full or some other D skill, changing her leap pass to a switch leap to switch side to fulfill that CR, and then added in a random A leap or something to get her up to seven skills, she’d bring her D score up to a 4.7 for meeting all requirements and she would be able to start from a 10.0 execution, meaning with a good 9.0 E score she could get a 13.7 or so for this routine. Obviously under the NCAA code it wasn’t necessary for her to do any of this, but I just wanted to show how it could be relatively simple to get a respectable elite score just in making a few tiny adjustments!
(I think all of this is accurate but please correct me if anything is incorrect, I went off of my memory and the only thing I could remember offhand was the six elements deal…but if I didn’t remember something else please let me know!)
What is going on with Peyton Ernst? I know she’s no longer at Florida, but is she in school or training somewhere?
Ernst left Florida after being medically released at the end of the 2016 season. From what I’ve heard, she is likely going to restart her career at Alabama, alongside Texas Dreams teammate Bailie Key, who initially verbally committed to Florida but just this past month changed her allegiance to Alabama instead.
Is anyone trying to create a new vault family?
As far as I know, no one is trying to actively create a new vault family, at least not for the 2017-2020 code of points, since that’s already set in stone. Technically there is a vault family that includes a front handspring onto the springboard, but this is an illegal entry in elite and the FIG technical committee won’t consider any vaults that have this entry, though I’m not sure why…I guess it’s dangerous, but so is half of what we see, and front handspring springboard entries are permitted in both J.O. and NCAA competition!
Do any elites compete in hijab?
No elites that I know of, but a few high school gymnasts have done it! At the elite level, one of the gymnasts who competed at the Youth Olympic Games in 2014 — Fatimah Saadi Al-Tameemi of Iraq — competed in a modified leo that allowed her to be more conservative in appearance. I don’t know if the FIG would allow hijabs or not at the elite level because from what I’ve heard from some club coaches, it could be considered a safety issue. In Malaysia, many competitive elites are Muslim and so the federation there has put in requests with the FIG to allow for female Muslim gymnasts to dress in what they call “ethical” attire. This was sparked after Farah Ann Abdul Hadi won five individual medals at the Southeast Asian Games last summer only to be attacked by conservative Muslims for her attire, as the leo she and all gymnasts wear was considered too revealing.
What is the earliest WAG video available?
I’m pretty sure it’s this video from the very first time women could compete in gymnastics at the Olympics, which was in Amsterdam 1928. Back then women’s gymnastics was more a series of choreographed group exercises displaying balance, control, and strength so it doesn’t really look anything like what we know today. The first videos with more modern women’s gymnastics are from the 1950s. There’s a great one from 1956 that highlights about 30 minutes from the Melbourne Games for both the men and women!
Who is the woman we see at all of the competitions sitting with the U.S. gymnasts but she’s not a coach?
That would be Deb! Debbie Van Horn is the Director of Sports Medicine Services for the women’s program at USA Gymnastics, and she’s been with the team in some capacity since 1988. Each team is allowed two coaches and a medical trainer on the floor at any given time, so Deb is always around, outlasting basically every coach that has ever been on the floor…and now, as fate would have it, she is even outlasting Martha Karolyi herself. The unsung hero of the U.S. women’s team.
In 2008, what would you have chosen as the lineup for qualifications if they weren’t all broken and one bad step away from having to use a Yurchenko 1.5 in team finals? Would that team have been able to take gold?
Honestly, that team was pretty much almost all about Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, and Alicia Sacramone. They could’ve taken just those three plus someone who could score relatively well on vault and bars to Beijing and they would’ve been more than fine. I wouldn’t have really changed much in the qualifications lineup at all…even though the injuries happened, there was no other situation you could’ve constructed without those injuries that would’ve put them ahead of China.
That said, I would’ve liked to see Sam Peszek and Chellsie Memmel do a bit more. I think they both could’ve out-performed Bridget Sloan on beam and floor, so they could’ve added a little bit on both of those events, especially given that they had to count Sacramone’s low floor score there in qualifications. Having a fifth competitor wouldn’t have forced them to do four-up four-count which could’ve been good for them mentally. Assuming all were healthy, I’d probably do…
VT- Liukin, Peszek, Sloan, Sacramone, Johnson
UB- Peszek, Sloan, Johnson, Memmel, Liukin
BB- Sloan, Memmel, Sacramone, Liukin, Johnson
FX- Memmel, Peszek, Liukin, Sacramone, Johnson
But again, it wouldn’t have changed much at all and I would’ve probably used the same exact team finals lineup that ended up happening even with the injuries. In hindsight, I’d probably want Peszek on floor over Sacramone, but going into it I would’ve been about Sacramone in that lineup all the way.
How do the Olympic cash awards for medals work for amateur athletes? Does Madison Kocian get to keep her cash winnings and still be a non-professional? Does she have to pay taxes on it? Do the coaches get anything?
The cash awards from the USOC are allowed to go to the athletes without compromising their NCAA eligibility or amateur status. They can’t accept prize money from meets, but they can accept the awards given to them by their federation, so yes, Kocian could keep the money she got from the USOC for her performance in Rio (about $40,000 for one gold and one silver) and still compete at UCLA with no problems. Yes, she has to pay taxes on it, and the taxes on medals are quite large, but Barack Obama actually just signed a piece of legislation last week that puts an end to this “victory tax.” The medals had been considered “earned income” and they came with huge tax bills from the IRS, but this new legislation allows athletes to keep the money without paying taxes, unless they are more high-profile athletes with dozens of endorsement deals making more than $1 million per year. Since Kocian is amateur status and doesn’t earn money from endorsements, she will not be taxed on her winnings, though I can imagine Simone Biles, who earned $110,000 just from her medals alone and who will probably pick up a couple million from endorsements this year, likely will fall under the group of those who will continue to pay taxes. Coaches also get some medal incentive from the USOC but I’m not sure what exactly the payout is.
What do you think about all of the “vault of death” talk in the coverage of Oksana Chusovitina and Dipa Karmakar attempting the Produnova vault? I didn’t hear that phrase until Rio coverage so I suspect it was invented by media types trying to create publicity and drama. It makes it sound like some insane publicity stunt or gamble. What I know about the sport tells me that the Produnova is not so much dangerous as it is difficult.
I think the “vault of death phrase” was definitely sensationalist…but the vault definitely is a bit more dangerous than others. With other vaults, if a gymnast makes a miscalculation, she can generally balk in order to avoid a serious injury, and if she is injured, it’s usually an ankle or a knee. With the Produnova, a gymnast who makes even a slight miscalculation is barreling towards the floor in a super quick forward rotation, so if she’s a bit short, it could mean seriously injuring her head or neck. I know when I talked to Aimee Boorman at one point she was like yeah, Simone Biles could definitely do this vault but is it really worth the risk of death? I think that quote or a similar one is where the phrase came from. Any vault with multiple flips is definitely more dangerous than vaults with one flip and multiple twists. Thankfully we haven’t yet seen a terrifying injury with the Produnova yet, but I think that’s only because the sample size is so small, with only five gymnasts competing it in a 17-year period. It’s not necessarily a vault that will kill everyone who tries it, but at the same time, a perfectly capable gymnast could make the tiniest error and end up with a serious head/neck injury and that’s why it has that super dangerous reputation. For vaults that emphasize twists over multiple flips, minor miscalculations generally don’t lead to anything more than knee injuries, which are a bummer but not deadly. Because you’re not doing super quick forward or backward rotation to get multiple flips around, you have a better air awareness and more time to correct a bad positioning in the air so that you might still fall, but you can avoid landing in a way that will crush your spine. With the Produnova and the other vault everyone wants, a Yurchenko double back, you’d better have it perfect every single time or you’re in a hell of a lot of trouble.
How does changing nations work? Do the gymnasts have to move there, get citizenship, etc?
Gymnasts need to get citizenship, but they don’t need to move there. Many gymnasts living in the U.S. represent other countries internationally thanks to dual citizenship! Some countries can be difficult to represent because they have stricter citizenship requirements (like, Annia Hatch had to wait a few years before she was cleared to represent the U.S. after moving from Cuba and Oksana Chusovitina had to wait a few years before she was cleared from Uzbekistan to Germany, for example) but that’s more an Olympic committee/federation issue than a citizenship issue. Last summer, the U.S. girls who gained citizenship for Belarus were fast-tracked through the process and became Belarussian citizens within a matter of weeks despite never having stepped foot in the country. If you’re already registered with the FIG under one country, you have to apply with them to change your citizenship, but that usually doesn’t present any issues…I don’t think I’ve seen them deny a request in recent years.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins