It’s time for the 108th 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 is your opinion of the vault final in 2008?
I think Alicia Sacramone absolutely deserved a medal. I still get angry about this whole situation, mostly because in general I don’t like when a fall in an event final still earns a medal due to difficulty alone (in the all-around it’s a little more acceptable because they have room to make up for the fall, but in event finals, you should have to hit the routine to medal). As much as I love Cheng Fei and was actually rooting for her to win gold at home, the execution score for her eponymous vault was definitely too high, and getting bronze less than a tenth ahead of Sacramone was so shady, like the judges calculated exactly to see what they needed to do in order to get her on the podium. With Sacramone as clean as she was, boasting the highest execution in the competition, I really don’t think she should’ve been left out of the equation.
Can junior elites who perform internationally get skills named for them?
I believe they can at junior Europeans and at the Youth Olympic Games? Or at one point in time they were allowed to do this? I can’t remember if this was changed so that new skills can only be submitted at worlds and the Olympics…someone please let me know if you can clear this up!
Which gymnast has created the most skills?
I believe Nellie Kim has the most skills named for her in the code of points…it was actually funny, because as president of the women’s technical committee, she kind of went through and like, re-named a bunch of random basic skills to have them named for her and took out some skills named for other people or something? I mean, good for her, I’d do the same. Like oh yeah, I was totally the first person to do a double tuck, this is the Kim XXVII. But yeah, based on what the code currently lists, I think it’s Kim with the most in there.
What are some vault skills that men do that women have tried but not succeeded at?
The triple-twisting Yurchenko is the big one, though that one is still relatively new for the men, named for Kenzo Shirai in 2013. The women have also not yet graduated from the Rudi into the front layout double full…that’s one I’ve been waiting to see for at least five years, as Alicia Sacramone was planning on trying it in 2011 and then Giulia Steingruber was thinking about doing it this year (and it looked good in training). I’d also say the handspring double front…I mean, technically women have competed it, but since Yelena Produnova herself, it hasn’t exactly been a great vault on the women’s side. Then there’s the tsuk 2½, which I believe Oksana Chusovitina was hoping to introduce at some point but then she focused on the Produnova instead.
Why is there such a big difference in Gabby Douglas’ bars scores domestically or internationally?
Well, this year there was a big difference in pretty much everyone’s bars scores domestically vs. at the Olympics. I’m guessing the bars judges in Rio were just way less strict than any domestic judges have been on that event this year…all three bars medalists (and basically everyone who made that final) had some of their best scores ever in Rio. Aly Raisman scored about half a point higher than she normally does on bars in qualifications. The bars judges were frankly out of control in Rio, especially in later subdivisions during qualifications. Just super excited to be there I guess. But yeah, it definitely wasn’t just Douglas who saw a major boost.
Why are the Chinese coaches allowed to stand so close to the gymnasts without getting a penalty? Is there no rule about how far back they must stand?
The penalty is for actually touching the gymnasts. They can be standing directly next to them only a millimeter away, but if no part of their body is touching the gymnast, it’s not a deduction. The rule only says that they can’t touch, and it doesn’t list a minimum distance at which they must stand. Because the reason they’re up there in the first place is to spot the gymnast on release moves, they have to stand relatively close in order to be in place should a gymnast fall, and so for the Chinese coaches, perhaps that’s just how they’ve been trained to stand when spotting. Again, as long as they don’t actually touch anyone who’s competing, it doesn’t matter how close they get.
What’s the deal with the Karolyis’ daughter? What’s her story in gymnastics?
I don’t know if she ever competed in the sport, but if she did, it wasn’t at a high enough level to be known for it. She grew up planning on going to med school, but then ended up becoming a nutritionist. When the Karolyis were looking for a new food service company to work at the ranch back around the 2000 era, Andrea and her husband Paul Wise started their own food/catering company and Andrea became the official nutritionist at the ranch.
I noticed that a lot of the male gymnasts listen to music or have headphones on between routines. Are the women not allowed to use them?
Yes they are! You definitely do see it on occasion…more so from the individual gymnasts than from the gymnasts at big competitions with full teams. I remember being on the floor at nationals for the first time in 2010 and watching Bridget Sloan rock out to her iPod all the time to get in the zone for her routines. She always tucked her iPod into the leg hole of her leo up by her hip and would basically be in her own world before beam or whatever. Maybe more men generally do it than the women, but it’s definitely not against any rule (unless it’s a coach rule, that is). In my book, I have one of my gymnasts listening to music on her iPod on the floor during a meet and one of the reviews I got was like “MAJORLY factually inaccurate, this is NOT allowed!!!” but actually, it is! Some coaches might not allow it but I definitely see it often at domestic meets.
What was your opinion of Becky Downie’s bars score at the Olympics? I thought it seemed low. Someone said her feet caught the bar but I didn’t see it.
Yeah, she tapped her feet on the high bar on her Shang…a shame, because it was otherwise an excellent routine. After she tapped her feet, I thought her score would be much lower than what it ended up being, so I was glad her score didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would…but obviously it ended up not mattering since she didn’t end up in the final. In fact, she ended up being so close to the final but not making it, so maybe it would’ve been better if she just got a super low score. For me personally seeing someone get so close always hurts more than seeing someone totally miss out on something by a long shot!
Is Aliya Mustafina retiring after Rio?
From what I’ve heard, Mustafina wants to continue in the sport, but will likely take a break, probably until at least 2018 if not 2019. I think this quad, she was so pressured to come back and win medals straight away, she got kind of burnt out and then in 2015, a year before the Games, she was taking a break from the sport and wondering if she should go forward. I think it’s super important for gymnasts to get mental breaks and that’s why I think Aly Raisman was so successful…she didn’t come back so early that she was getting mentally and physically stressed, but she also didn’t wait too long and not have enough time to prepare. Planning on being back about two years before the Games is a good idea, and I hope Mustafina stands her ground if the Russian federation starts begging her to return sooner! Girlfriend needs a break more than anyone.
With Olympic teams now down to four, do you think teams will basically be the top four all-arounders with the two specialist spots being more controversial decisions for each country?
Yes. Because the qualifications will still be four-up three-count on the new four-person teams, all four gymnasts on each team will be expected to compete four events apiece in prelims. If a country doesn’t have four gymnasts for the all-around, they could take specialists for the team, but they run the risk of having to count a fall in qualifications instead of having a safety net fourth routine. Any gymnast who wants to make the team in the current quad will basically have to be an all-arounder, and so for most countries, the selection process for this will literally just be like “okay, well, you were all the top four all-arounders at this combination of meets so you win!” The specialist spots will be more difficult because say the U.S. qualifies for both specialist spots in 2020 and they have six girls all good in different areas. How do you even decide who gets it? Unless someone is so far ahead internationally on an event in the way Simone Biles was on floor this year, it’s going to be super difficult to determine who gets those spots, and I could see there being a lot of yelling and fighting among fans if someone gets a lower score on her best event at trials but still ends up going to Tokyo based on her entire competitive history on that event. You know, kind of like how things were with the Gabby Douglas complaints this year.
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