You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 116th 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 Mexico’s Elsa Garcia?

Garcia, who swept Mexico’s national championships and won the all-around title with a huge 58.0 in 2015, was supposed to lead her team at worlds last year but was injured in podium training in Glasgow and had to withdraw. With her country not qualifying a full team to the test event, she had to contend against Alexa Moreno, Ana Lago, and Nicolle Castro for one of two individual spots at an internal selection test in February. Moreno won the competition, Lago was second, Castro was third, and Garcia, not fully back from her injury, was last with just a 50.15 and was not selected for one of the test event spots. She hasn’t officially retired yet, so we’ll see if she decides to return to the sport.

In a Team USA vs The Rest of the World competition, who would your pick be for the Rest of the World team?

Aliya Mustafina, Larisa Iordache, Ellie Black, Giulia Steingruber, and Shang Chunsong with Ellie Downie, Mai Murakami, and Rebeca Andrade as alternates.

How many skills does Oksana Chusovitina have named after her?

I believe she has five skills, with at least one on every event but beam. She has two vaults, a handspring front pike with a full twist with a 5.5 D score and a Rudi with a 6.2 D score. On bars, the hop full (a D skill) is named for her as is the full-out dismount (also a D element), and on floor she was the first to do the full-twisting double layout, which is an H skill.

Which current/former American gymnast do you think would be able to be the biggest challenger to Simone Biles if they competed against her at their peak?

Probably Gabby Douglas. I think had Douglas been a bit healthier in her comeback and perhaps a bit more mentally committed to what was going on, she definitely could’ve been a major challenge to Biles, especially with an Amanar and slightly stronger performances on beam and floor.

Does Marine Boyer from France usually get credited for her layout on beam or does she have the same issue as Aly Raisman with getting downgraded? There were queries regarding her start value at the Games in qualifications and finals, but only the qualifications query was accepted. Was it related to the layout or other elements?

I’m not sure…it’s hard to say for certain what they’re crediting or not crediting because I don’t have access to the judges’ score sheets. I can guess that typically when a gymnast is expecting a certain score and gets two tenths lower despite a relatively solid routine with clean connections, the two tenths come from the layout getting downgraded, and that’s my guess for Boyer. Given that the judges said they only gave full E credit to one gymnast at worlds in 2015, my guess is that this is what was missing from Boyer’s routine, especially given that everything else seemed good enough to count into her score.

Why was Elena Arenas’ floor from the first day of nationals this year only given a 4.4 difficulty?

I think she was playing around with what to compete this summer because on day one at nationals, her routine was entirely different from her routine at classics a few weeks earlier. At classics, she had a double layout, 2.5 to punch front tuck, double pike, and double tuck, but she almost crashed her double layout there and so when she came to nationals, she didn’t do that pass and only had the other three instead. Her classics routine had a 5.4 D score, and she lost 0.6 for the double layout alone, bringing her down to a 4.8. Everything else was the same, but her wolf turn at nationals that day was a bit spotty, so maybe she got downgraded there or on a leap? It’s hard to say for sure, but I could see them not crediting the double wolf turn, which was worth four tenths.

Were Courtney McCool’s qualifications performances really so bad that it warranted taking her out of team finals at the 2004 Olympic Games?

In my opinion, no? But they had a potential gold medal on the line and I can see why they may have been afraid of risking her. We later found out she was injured so maybe they knew something about that, or maybe because she was the dropped score on beam and in the bottom two on floor, they made their decision solely on how she finished there? It wouldn’t be the only time this happened to a GAGE gymnast, as it happened with Brenna Dowell at worlds last year after she didn’t finish in the top three on any of her events in qualifications. I can see how Martha Karolyi would make team final participation a result of how well you did in qualifications, but either way with McCool, I don’t think things would’ve turned out any different for the team’s medal prospects had she competed over others on either event in the final.

Why don’t more artistic gymnasts take inspiration from rhythmic like Hollie Vise did? Several are flexible enough to pull it off.

It could just be that many don’t make it a priority to train skills like these. With the way difficulty works today, when you have a timed routine like beam and have to get the higher-valued skills out of the way, they become way more of a priority than the routine’s choreographed elements, its rhythm, etc. It would be great to see more of these skills make their way into artistic gymnastics but at the same time, they’re competing in a strict code that requires them to put their focus elsewhere. Typically when you do see things like this, it’s from gymnasts who aren’t as strong as contenders and so they focus on that extra little something different instead.

Why are so many gymnasts switching their commitment from Florida to Alabama?

Isn’t it really only Peyton Ernst and Bailie Key? Ernst switched her commitment due to medical reasons/not being happy with her medical treatment at Florida when she was injured there, and Key’s switch probably had something to do with Ernst’s departure since the two are best friends and most likely wanted to go to college together (a couple of other former Texas Dreams gymnasts also compete for Bama, and if they know their teammates are happy there, that definitely is a big influence). There’s also the fact that when Key verbally committed, Rhonda Faehn was still the head coach, so it could be possible that she wanted to reassess the coaching situation.

Someone just reminded me that Emily Gaskins also made the change. With her, I remember being shocked because when she committed to Florida, she talked about both of her sisters going there and she’d been a Gator fan since birth basically, so I’m not sure what her reasoning was for changing her mind.

If you were to assemble a five-person team out of individual qualifiers at Rio, who would be on it, and what would your lineup look like?

I’d have Giulia Steingruber, Jessica Lopez, Catalina Ponor, Larrissa Miller, and Zsofia Kovacs on my team with the following lineup:

VT: Ponor, Kovacs, Lopez, Steingruber
UB: Kovacs, Miller, Steingruber, Lopez
BB: Kovacs, Steingruber, Lopez, Ponor
FX: Kovacs, Miller, Ponor, Steingruber

This team had a lot of falls in qualifications (ugh, Kovacs, she would’ve been AMAZING if she hit beam and floor!), but if they were at their best, they’d actually be pretty awesome. Even with the falls, using their QF scores, they would’ve had a 173.196, which would’ve put them in seventh place going into the team final. With a hit beam from Steingruber and hit floor from Miller or Kovacs, BAM, this team would’ve challenged for bronze.

If you were to perform a floor routine, would you personally have more Russian-style choreography or more American? Whose floor would you perform?

American, all the way, if we’re talking current routines. As a whole, despite a few nice individual touches, Russia’s choreography in the last quad has been lazy and uninspired at best. I won’t go so far as “bad” but they clearly put very little thought into their routines this time around whereas many of the American routines are awesomely personalized and fun. I’d absolutely want someone taking a part of my personality and turning it into a floor routine as opposed to the current Russian style of “here’s some music, wave your arms around or something.” If we’re going back in the day, the old Soviet routines were incredible artistic perfection and I’d absolutely want one of those. I’d kill for one of those. But today’s American floor performances have more in common with the old Soviet performances than today’s Russian performances do.

What do you think of Seda Tutkhalyan’s original style? Have they stopped ballet training for gymnasts?

I don’t know what you mean and don’t think the two questions go together at all. No Russians really perform balletic-style routines. Slow arm waving does not equal ballet. The ballet training is apparent in some of the Russians’ dance elements, but performance-wise and stylistically, there is very little balletic influence. I think Tutkhalyan’s differences are more apparent in her bars than on floor, and I love that she doesn’t have the same routine every other Russian has. She used to be a mess there but when they adapted her routine to better suit her skills, she grew tremendously on that event and now I actually prefer it to her beam.

Is Laney Madsen training elite? Will we see her at classics and nationals in 2017?

Yes, she qualified to elite this year actually, but Gym Max decided to hold off another year before having her compete at that level. I think she could probably qualify again next year if she has kept up her improvements, though it’ll be more difficult at the senior level to make this happen…but now she has the option of scrapping bars and qualifying on just three events, which I definitely think she can do. I’m sure we’ll at least see her at classics next year, though nationals would definitely take a ton of work. It’s totally possible, though!

With the four member team rule for this quad’s Olympics, can the all-arounders on teams still be in event finals? If Madison Kocian and Gabby Douglas are on the team and Ashton Locklear had a specialist spot, could Locklear miss event finals if the other two outscored her?

Yup. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the team or a specialist — you still are representing the same country and the rule is two-per-country. It could very well happen that two team members outscore the specialist, so the competition for finals spots in both the all-around and event finals will still be tight, just as it is now and always has been since two-per-country rules existed.

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

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14 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Whoops, sent this as an ask and meant to leave it as a comment! How come gymnasts/coaches keep including beam layouts if they’re hardly ever credited? I think that’s come up elsewhere with skills just not being done when they don’t get credit so they sort of fade out of favour. What’s the reason this one sticks around? (I wish they would credit it more, it looks great!)

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    • I think this trend of judges being super strict about giving full layout credit is pretty recent, kind of like how they got much more picky about rhythm on beam after 2013 (which hurt Kyla Ross and most of the Chinese). The US already tends to avoid them, apart from Aly’s who’s been doing it forever and isn’t about to try and learn a new series. I agree the judges are too strict! Boyer is a good example of someone who does a really nice one and she still doesn’t always get credit, which cost her the bronze on beam.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, Ragan Smith. And Bailie Key. Basically Texas Dreams uses the layout anyway. Though I’d put Ragan in the Chinese layout category. High and pretty arched, not quite as arched tho.

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        • Most of the layout credits are ridiculous. They’re like “one foot was a millimeter in front of the other so we’re not going to give you credit”. I can understand a one tenth execution deduction for piked form at the end (within reason) or a .05 for one foot being a little bit in front of the next, but two tenths off difficulty if you don’t have a 100% perfect layout position is way too harsh.

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  2. I’m surprised you didn’t put Saraiva or Andrade on the rest of the world team! Flavia is better than Black on beam, almost the same on floor, better on vault, the only event where Black has her beat is bars and I doubt they would count her considering Shang, Aliya and Iordache are on the team.

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    • Yeah, I answered this question a couple of months ago, now I’d definitely include Rebeca. I wouldn’t take Flavia if only because beam is the one reason I’d want her, if you’d need someone to do something else in a pinch or kill it in AA or something, Ellie would be who I want.

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  3. Gaskins made a statement that she switched to Alabama in part because she wanted to do something different than her sisters; she had thought her whole life she’d go to Florida, and it was exciting to plan to do something else. I thought that was cool. It’s possible she also thought she’d have a better chance standing out/making line-ups at Bama — this was when their commit list was even more chock-full of national team members, before Bailie switched and Laurie went pro.

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  4. A funny thing about the Russian tradition with the ballet: I remember the Brazilian NT coordinator saying that Alexandrov considered it a “waste of time” for the athletes to train ballet. So they only had ballet training when Alexandrov was not present in the training gym. Hahah

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  5. Very interesting question and answer on the possible team of individual qualifiers in Rio! There are sports, where athletes can team with other nations sportsmen/women, like tennis, or table tennis (or typically some other racket sports), and they can win medals for themselves, and their countries. This would be an awesome initiative in gymnastics, to expose smaller countries’ gymnatsts and raise the attention for these sports in small countries with some individual talents. Can you please organize such competition please? 🙂 Lets call it Open Team Open! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • This does happens only in doubles events, on the open or grand prize circuits, not team. Even then, doubles teams are required to represent the same country for world championships and Olympic competition.

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    • I’d LOVE a competition like that. It would definitely be a great way to give more attention to gymnasts from smaller programs, and it would also be great for international friendship…at the Mexican Open this weekend there were no teams, but it was fun to watch because all of the individuals there were supporting each other and even helping coach each other, so I think it would be really enjoyable to see something like that on a team level.

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