You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


It’s time for the 115th 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.

How will the new code of points be changed? Will all of the skills be put down or only some of them? Or will they redo it completely?

They basically just go through the old code with a red pen like an editor and cross things out and add in everything new. That’s how the proposed code looks, and then when things are finalized, they either make the proposed changes or revert back to the original and then they reprint it as the new quad’s code. Unless a skill is explicitly coming out of the code for whatever reason, all skills will stay in the code. Some element values are changed, some new skills are added, and some skills are taken out, but they basically start with the 2013-2016 code as a foundation and work off of that.

I’m recently getting into NCAA and thought that the Bruins were the leading team. Truth is they aren’t even top three. Could Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian change this? Or does it take more than that to climb to the top?

It takes more than one or two individual gymnasts to build the success of an NCAA program. Truth be told, UCLA is a top team and probably would be a leading team if they were more consistent or had stronger vaulters. They’ve sought to work on a lot of this over the past few years, and they’ve been kind of in a rebuilding period since 2011 or so, but I think with the huge group of recruits coming in, they’re on their way to becoming a top three program once again and wouldn’t be surprised to see them win another national title in the next few years. By 2020, they’ll definitely be a national champion team once more. Ross and Kocian will help, for sure, but look at the solid vaulters and the utility players they brought in this year, especially with the Glenns and Felicia Hano. It’s gonna get really good for them super fast.

Will the Belarusian/American gymnasts be able to compete in the U.S. this year or are they only allowed to compete for other countries?

No, they would have to apply for a change-of-nation if they wanted to compete domestically in the U.S. this year or beyond. They can only compete for Belarus unless they file a petition with the FIG to change their nationality to the U.S. or any other country.

If “cowboying” is a form deduction, why do so many gymnasts do it?

The same reason why they have any other form issues on skills — because they want to compete the skill even though they’re not perfect at doing it. No gymnast is perfect at basically any skill, and so for some, cowboying tucks is going to happen. The reason a gymnast cowboys is because she doesn’t have the power or rotational speed to compete double backs or double fronts or any other tucked elements quickly enough to land them. Correct tuck form with your knees in front of you and your legs glued together makes your body rotate slower in the air whereas cowboyed form with your legs apart and pulled back flattens your body, allowing you to rotate forwards or backwards faster. Cowboying isn’t a form deduction for divers, and so pretty much all of the tucked elements you see in diving look like that, because they’re able to execute a greater amount of tucks in that position. When you see a gymnast attempting a Produnova vault with about 70% of the power she actually needs to rotate it around, cowboying is worth the deduction to them because they’re going to get a 7.0 D score out of it.

There are two vaults that look similar, both with a Yurchenko half-on entry. One is valued at 5.6 and the other at 6.4 (Cheng). What is the difference?

The one valued at 5.6 is a Lopez and only has a front layout with a half twist. The Cheng, meanwhile, is the same Yurchenko half-on entry, but coming off the table it’s a front layout with one and a half twists, one twist more than the Lopez has. Up until 2015, Simone Biles competed the Lopez with the Cheng as the skill she was working up to, and then she debuted the Cheng this year. Generally whenever I see a gymnast competing a Lopez, I assume a Cheng is somewhere in the works as the next logical upgrade!

What would happen if all eight event finalists were to get doping offenses and nullified scores? Would the medals be redistributed to the clean qualification scores? What if clean gymnasts were affected by the two-per-country rule?

I believe in order to get a medal, the gymnasts actually have to compete in the medal event, so they wouldn’t give medals to the next eight in qualifications. That competition would probably be nullified and would go down as the biggest wtf in Olympic history. I’m more interested in how this situation would’ve played out than I am in the hypothetical effects. I’m just going to assume Tatiana Nabieva baked pot-laced energy bars for everyone and passed them out as a gesture of goodwill just before the competition, because that’s SO something she’d do.

I know you count eight elements for a routine. In the new code, the requirement for a D+ dismount was removed. Does this mean you don’t have to count the dismount? Could you perform eight D elements in your routine and dismount with a layout?

The new code requires that the dismount has to be included in the eight elements, so you can’t just hop off the beam and expect to get a good score. Basically, the removal of the D+ dismount was so that gymnasts who can’t compete them consistently enough don’t have to receive a 0.2 CR deduction for doing a C dismount, or a full 0.5 CR deduction for doing an A or B dismount. Now gymnasts can do a C dismount and while they won’t get the same high element values that girls still doing D+ dismounts will get, they don’t have to decide between either (a) doing a D+ dismount with form issues/a rough landing, or (b) doing a C dismount and getting a deduction worth almost as much as the skill itself. For many countries that aren’t as strong as top programs, even C dismounts can be difficult to learn and master, especially at the end of lengthy beam routines in competition, and now they’ll still be able to walk away with solid enough start values without having to worry about being penalized on top of not being as strong as gymnasts from stronger programs. Because that’s all that D+ dismount rule did — gave huge penalties to gymnasts who were already behind in difficulty due to a lower skill level. Now the lack of this rule will still require gymnasts to have high-level dismounts if they want higher D scores, but it will also even the playing field a bit for gymnasts who might not have the same resources as larger programs.

Do you think the countries that finish fifth through eighth at the test event should be able to send two gymnasts to the Olympics?

Yes, absolutely. Thankfully things are changing in that respect in the coming quad, but this quad, absolutely. With the exception of South Korea, which was heavily depleted due to about 8 billion injuries going into the test event, all three teams that didn’t make it could’ve sent multiple gymnasts to the Games who would’ve been at the same level or even a higher level than many of those who got to attend. The drop from “you can either bring a team of five or just one single solitary gymnast” is ridiculous which is why I’m so happy about the new format allowing for a country without a full team to qualify multiple gymnasts!

Is there a rule about your leg when you do a wolf turn? Should it be horizontal? Straight? Some drop and lift the leg on beam. Will the judges stop counting rotations when the leg drops? Should it be a rule if it isn’t?

I’m not sure of the specifics but what I’ve heard from several gymnasts and coaches is that with the wolf turn there are basically no rules and almost no deductions, which is why so many gymnasts are doing them, which is hilarious because it’s basically like a free-for-all. I’d imagine there are rules about what to count in terms of rotations (e.g. when the leg drops that’s when you stop counting rotations), but in terms of how the leg position should be, I don’t think they’re very strict and so like other skills it comes down to stylistic choices. I’ve seen some that have been super squatted and low to the ground and others where they’re practically standing up with just a slightly bent knee, and all seem to be a-okay.

Do you know anything about Ekaterina Sokova?

She was dealing with injury for quite a while…she last competed in the spring of 2015, and while things were looking up for a bit and she got added to the Rio training group, she apparently then got injured again and it pulled her from all competition this season. Now she’s back in the gym and training so I hope she ends up finally able to make her senior debut eventually because she’s awesome and could be a huge help to the country if she continues her great work on floor.

Do you know why Alexis Vasquez dropped to level 10? Is she looking for a new elite coach?

She is not looking for a new elite coach…she simply decided that she’d rather compete level 10 instead of elite and so moved back home to her friends and family in California, where she is now training at World Elite. I think she was injured this year, because she only did a couple of events at one meet back in January, but hopefully we’ll see her back as a top level 10 in 2017!

How does the “two different vaults” for finals work if one vault is downgraded (e.g. the gymnast does a Rudi and a DTY but the double is downgraded to a 1.5)? If both have forward entries (e.g. a Cheng and a handspring full), does that count as separate families?

It wouldn’t matter if the gymnast intended to do a DTY but was downgraded to a 1.5…if she’s given the value for a 1.5, it would mean she technically performed a 1.5 in the eyes of the technical committee, and since both of her vaults would have the same number of twists in the post-flight, she would have a two point penalty. If both vaults have forward entries but are in different families, they would still count as different families…the families are well-defined and even if the entries end up looking super similar, because the handspring family is different from the Yurchenko half-on family, a handspring full and Cheng would be allowed.

What’s the deal with Nia Dennis? Will she compete elite this year or wait until college next fall?

I believe Dennis plans on competing elite in 2017, and has been training some pretty big skills as she prepares for her upcoming season…including a toe-on layout Tkachev (aka a Nabieva) on bars! I hope she can stay healthy…she has so much potential and it would be a shame to see her entire career marred by injuries. But if she doesn’t continue elite for another season, we can look forward to her at UCLA as she just signed her letter of intent yesterday for the 2017-2018 season.

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


7 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. In 2008, the first 3 teams to not qualify a full team got to send 2 athletes, which makes more sense to me (and I wouldn’t mid expanding that to all 4 test event teams), though who knows if that will make as much sense with the new qualification rules.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think so. Not really officially, but the olympics are over, she’s committed to a college team and she starts college before the world championships so it doesn’t make much sense to continue elite. I mean she could do what Elizabeth Price did in 2014 and compete elite as long as she wasn’t in college, or maybe Bailie wants at least one more go at being on the main team at a major championships, but my guess is that Bailie has pretty much wrapped up her elite career.


  2. I believe you’re mistaken about the vault family question. You can perform a rudi and a yurchenko 1.5, the rule states the vaults can’t have identifcal second phase, a rudi is a 1.5 front and a yurchenko 1.5 is a 1.5 back. Ariella Kaeslin won silver on vault in 2009 with a rudi and a 1.5 yurchenko. However, I’ve never seen a gymnast perform to front vaults, for example a Lopez and a Rudi, I wonder if that’s allowed.


    • Oh yeah, that’s right! I wasn’t even thinking about front versus back. I went off of the tsuk full vs FTY example, which a couple of gymnasts (Emily Little at Pac Rims, Houry Gebeshian at the test event QFs) did this year and got the two points off. I think a Rudi and Lopez would be an okay combination because they are in different families and have different post-flights (a Lopez being a front half and a Rudi being a front 1.5) but I’d guess a Cheng and a Rudi combo wouldn’t be allowed?


  3. My coaches used to encourage us to cowboy when learning things like double fronts due to safety reasons. When learning those forward rotating skills it’s super easy to overrotate and slam your head/mouth into your knees. One girl I know literally lost her tooth in her knee from doing that, so “knees face width apart” was always a rule. Better to take the leg separation deduction than to get seriously injured. But yeah rotation is obviously also an issue and obviously some gymnasts cowboy wayyy more than just the suggested safety cowboy haha


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