It’s time for the 112th 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.
Are you looking forward to anyone in particular at this Youth Olympic Games?
Hmm, these will be the 2003-born gymnasts, so I’m not sure if some of them are even on our radar yet since most countries only send 14 and 15 year olds to compete at most major international junior meets. I’m much more familiar with the 2001-2002 crowd, though I’d imagine over the next year we’ll get to meet many of the faces we’ll see at YOGs in 2018.
Of the 2003 babies I AM familiar with, Giorgia Villa of Italy is the big one. She’s been at a senior level of competitive ability in her country since age 12 and will be huge for Italy in the coming quad. I just hope that momentum keeps rising for her and she doesn’t burn out or whatever because she is certainly the one to keep an eye on.
My other favorites who aren’t necessarily the strongest of any group but who I’m excited to see as they get older are Samadiana Fariz from New Zealand and Milka Gehani from Sri Lanka. For their ages compared to others in their countries’ programs, both are already super advanced. Fariz, who is still considered an espoir until next year, is already one of the top juniors in the country despite having almost no competitive experience internationally, and Gehani is the best gymnast from Sri Lanka I’ve EVER SEEN, literally EVER. By a lot. I don’t know where she came from or how she’s so good, but I hope we see more of her because I am so utterly impressed.
How does the new COP work? Would people who make the team be able to qualify for event finals or could specialists be moved into the team in the event of an injury?
Yes to both. Basically whether you’re on a team or an event specialist only affects who competes in the team competition. Nothing else. Gymnasts on teams can qualify for the all-around and event finals. Gymnasts not on teams can qualify for the all-around and event finals. If your country brings six gymnasts to the games, the only difference is that four will compete in team qualifications/finals, and the other two won’t. If there is an injury to someone on the team and an event specialist is an alternate, the event specialist can step in and replace someone on the team.
Why don’t many gymnasts compete switch leap fulls anymore on beam? There were so many around the 2000-2004 code and now I rarely see them if ever.
Probably just because they lack difficulty compared to how risky they can be? I can’t remember the last time I saw a switch full on beam…I think the closest we saw was Celine van Gerner’s tour jete half this quad, unless I’m forgetting someone else, but yeah. A switch half is a D and while a switch full is SO much more difficult, because there is an E cap for dance elements, a switch full is only an E, so why risk a fall or major deduction when you can only get an extra tenth? Instead, the trend is doing a switch leap into a switch half, so you get the D difficulty for the switch half and pick up that extra tenth from the connection value.
Do you think the whole NCAA gymnastics system/format — teams competing against one another in dual meets with six up and five counting — could be implemented for international elite gymnastics? Like an international elite league?
I mean, technically it does exist on some level with all of the friendly meets out there…there’s no league for this because there doesn’t need to be one. Countries typically set up little dual meets between one another as a way to get prep for bigger international meets, which is why you see a ton of friendlies pop up before Euros or worlds. This year, Romania and France had two dual friendly meets with that format, and it’s nice because these countries don’t have to go through the FIG to set up directives and official invitations or whatever. The two federations can say “hey, wanna meet up for a friendly?” and bam, there we go. It’s more common in Europe because everyone is in such close proximity, but the U.S. goes to a couple on occasion. Jesolo is basically a friendly meet, albeit a little more prominent, and the U.S. has gone to a couple of friendly meets in Germany in recent years.
What happened to Bailey Ferrer and Delanie Harkness?
Ferrer missed nationals in 2015 due to injury and then switched gyms from Orlando Metro to Brandy Johnson’s earlier this year. I believe she still has the goal to compete elite and she hasn’t officially dropped down to level 10, so hopefully we’ll see her back in competition next season. Harkness dropped down to level 10 in 2015 and placed 15th at J.O. nationals this year.
The extra tumbling mat on floor…is that only allowed at domestic meets or can it be at worlds/the Olympics as well?
I don’t think it’s allowed at worlds or the Olympics…maybe just in podium training. I’ve never seen it in competition, or if I have, I’m not remembering seeing it! Otherwise it’s legal to use a mat as long as the boundaries are drawn on.
Has anyone ever received 10 points in execution since the new code was introduced?
Nope! I was hoping Simone Biles would be the first this summer with her Amanar at nationals or trials, and I really think that had she stuck any of these vaults, we would’ve seen it! It would’ve been awesome…and I’ve never seen anything come closer to perfection than her vaults, so even if it wasn’t literally perfect, it would be about as good as it gets and it would’ve been so cool to see it happen 40 years after Nadia Comaneci’s perfect 10s.
If you compared the best Amanar McKayla Maroney has ever done in competition with the best Simone Biles has ever done, which is better?
I would go with Biles, honestly…her form is slightly tighter than Maroney’s. It’s minuscule but otherwise they’re so similar, it’s hard to pick them apart so you have to go to that. I think even Maroney’s best Amanar still had some leg separation in the pre-flight which I don’t think Biles’ best had at all…and if you want to get even more picky, I think Biles’ extension in her flight was a tad bit better. In general, Maroney’s landings were more consistent with Biles generally throwing most of her sticks away, and they both do the thing where they cross one foot over the other in the air, but if it was the “best ever in competition” for Biles that would include one of her stuck attempts and I’d say that one would be a teeny tiny bit better than Maroney’s as a whole.
What would you say are your top three favorite floor routines, difficulty aside?
My all-time favorite is probably Olga Strazheva’s 1989 worlds routine, which she did to the opening from The Rite of Spring, which is one of my favorite ballets. She kept her choreography about as close to the super creepy original as possible while still making it a gymnastics routine, and it was so inventive and unique for a floor routine. Another favorite of mine is the one Lieke Wevers performed in 2015-2016…it was beautiful and always made me cry. It’s hard to say top three for me, so for the rest I’ll go in chronological order…Natalia Frolova in 1986, Natalia Laschenova in 1988, Silvia Mitova and Kim Zmeskal in 1991, Henrietta Onodi in 1992, Mo Huilan in 1994, Yvonne Tousek and Lilia Podkopayeva in 1996, Carly Patterson in 2004, Ksenia Afanasyeva in 2012, and Axelle Klinckaert in 2015.
What nations are growing in the sport of gymnastics?
In the coming quad, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, without a doubt. They won’t be medal contenders or anything, but both have superb junior programs right now and they have been able to overshadow generally stronger junior programs. The Czech Republic beat teams like Hungary and Spain at Euros this year, which is huge…and that was without their star competitor, who was injured right before the meet. Had she been around, they could’ve rivaled the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany! And the Swiss juniors actually beat all three of those countries, nearly defeated France, and came close to getting on the podium at this same competition. Many of the juniors for Switzerland and the Czech Republic will turn senior in 2017 and 2018, and they’re absolutely going to take their teams to new heights…Switzerland especially if Giulia Steingruber sticks around to guide the awesome new kids.
What do you think Laurie Hernandez is going to do next? Do you think she’ll put her grips back on or does she have a chance at fame beyond the gym? I’ve heard of people wanting to give her a Disney show.
I think she’ll be back. I think part of her reason for going pro is what she is still capable of in the gym world in terms of world medals and maybe even a second Games. She definitely has a ton of star quality but I don’t know how realistic it would be for her to throw all of her eggs into the whole fame basket. McKayla Maroney also had a ton of star potential and was a much bigger name in 2012 than Hernandez is now, and though she got a couple of little bit parts in TV shows, it’s hard to truly cross over into Hollywood unless you have talent for acting/music/whatever. A big personality doesn’t necessarily translate to acting talent, and while pre-existing fame gives you some openings into that world, it’ll only get you so far.
How will the specialist spots be chosen for 2020? Will those who qualify at a world cup get to go, or will the spots still be selected at trials?
Those who qualify at world cups earn non-nominative spots, which means the spots go to the federation, not to the gymnasts. I’m sure in many cases the gymnasts who earn the spots will be the ones who end up going, but in countries with a lot of depth like the U.S., there may be four or five who can qualify for those spots and so they’ll have to use trials to pick only two.
How would Dominique Dawes’ beam score under the current code of points?
Using her beam from the all-around at the 1996 Olympics since that was the first thing that came up on YouTube, she hits all of the requirements so she starts out with 2.5 points (well, her dance element connection would be shady because she connects two straddle jumps, but I’ll personally let it slide because it’s an easy fix). For her skills, she would count a Valdez (B), straddle jump (A), back handspring (B), layout stepout (C), full turn (A), punch front (D), switch side (C), and a full-in dismount (G), giving her a total of 2.3 for element values. For connections, she’d get a 0.1 series bonus for her bhs + loso + loso + loso series, and then I believe she’d get an additional 0.1 for each of the two C+C acro connections, so she’d have 0.3 total for CV. Adding this all up, her start value would be about a 5.1, so for a nicely hit routine she’s looking at about a 14 total for her score.
Are there any women who coach men’s gymnastics at the collegiate or elite level? There seem to be so many men who coach women’s gymnastics but it’s hard to think of anyone in the opposite scenario.
Not that I can think of…there are definitely women who coach men’s gymnastics at the lower levels but I don’t know of any who coach at the collegiate or elite level, at least in the U.S. or on the more major international teams.
What Romanian gymnasts should we look out for in this next quad? Are they good at bars? What do you think the future will bring for Diana Bulimar, Larisa Iordache, and Catalina Ponor? Do you think Ponor will do the all-around?
My favorite Romanians in the next quad are some of their super talented new seniors coming up next year, especially Ioana Crisan, Olivia Cimpian, and Alisia Botnaru. I’m also super excited for Denisa Golgota, who turns senior in 2018…she’s incredible on vault and should build up some huge floor skills by the time she reaches 16. So much potential. Hopefully now that they all get to stay with Forminte, they’ll be able to keep improving unlike the new seniors of this past quad. I also hope the promising young seniors from this quad like Maria Holbura, Laura Jurca, and Ana Maria Ocolisan will keep improving because I don’t think any of them got to their peak yet. None of the upcoming seniors are particularly strong on bars but there is some potential in a couple of them, and actually Holbura, Jurca, and Ocolisan all showed great potential there, so if they can just get consistent, the team’s situation won’t be so dire even if they’re not doing gorgeous sets.
With the other three, I think Bulimar’s body has all but given out, and that her best days are long behind her. Even when she was healthy this past year, her quality of gymnastics was much lower than ever, she doesn’t have a difficult enough vault to make her relevant on major teams, and while she does some decent work on beam and floor, again, it’s not where she needs to be. Both Iordache and Ponor could seriously continue to do big work for this country, and I hope they both are able to train seriously and without injury. I don’t think we’ll see Ponor in the all-around…you never know, but if she didn’t do it this year when it would’ve actually helped her out, I don’t think we’ll see it happen in the future unless she really wants to shoot for an all-around medal at Euros next year (which are in Romania) or something.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins