You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 118th 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 Alla Sosnitskaya? Why wasn’t she in contention for the Russian Olympic team?

After worlds in 2014, her quality of gymnastics didn’t hold up to the rest of those in contention for spots on the Russian team. In 2015, the only event where she would really contribute would be vault, but she didn’t have so much to offer there that it would be worth bringing her over someone else. This year, she competed at Russian Championships in the spring, but had downgraded even her vault, showing that she just didn’t have enough to offer the team.

Why didn’t powerhouse countries like the USA and Russia send anyone to the Olympic Test Event?

There’s really no reason to send gymnasts when your country has already qualified, especially when it’s a long distance from both of those countries and there were other meets happening around the same time (both Russian Championships and the Pac Rim Championships were the week before the test event). Many countries that had already qualified gymnasts didn’t bother sending anyone, and the countries that did send gymnasts — like Canada, Italy, and China — did so to give some experience to those who needed it. The younger U.S. and Russian gymnasts also got experience, but at different meets than the test event.

Did Ashton Locklear go pro? I saw she is no longer going the NCAA route. Does she just want to stay elite?

She didn’t go pro in the traditional sense and doesn’t have an agent, but she opted not to compete at the NCAA level because she really wanted to continue elite, whether she got any money for her decision or not. When she was offered a spot on the post-Olympic tour, she was able to accept money since she isn’t going to use her NCAA eligibility. In the future, if someone like GK or something approaches her, she can accept money for that as well.

What’s the qualification for the U.S. Classic, P&Gs, and Olympic Trials?

The rules aren’t yet available for 2017 and beyond, so the qualifying scores will obviously change going forward with the new code of points getting released in the new year. You can probably expect all qualifying scores to drop by about two points based on the scoring trends in the new code, but here are the rules for 2016:

American & U.S. Classic

  • Juniors: 51.5 all-around at 2015 nationals; 52 all-around at 2015-2016 camp verification or 2016 national qualifiers
  • Seniors: 53 all-around, 40.5 on three events, or 27.5 on two events at 2015 nationals, 2015-2016 camp verification, or 2016 national qualifiers (gymnasts who qualify on two or three events can still compete all four events at classics; e.g. if a gymnast qualifies through only doing vault and floor at 2015 nationals, she can compete the all-around at classics)

U.S. Championships

  • Juniors: 52.5 all-around at 2016 American or U.S. Classic or at a 2015-2016 camp verification or international assignment
  • Seniors: Automatic qualification for 2015 world team members and traveling alternate; 54 all-around, 41.25 on three events, or 28 on two events at 2016 American or U.S. Classic or at a 2015-2016 camp verification or international assignment (gymnasts who qualify on two or three events can only compete those events on which they qualify; e.g. if a gymnast qualifies only on vault and floor at one of the classics, she can only compete vault and floor at nationals)

U.S. Olympic Trials

  • No required score; typically the top eight all-around at nationals automatically qualify and the rest are at the discretion of the national team coordinator. In 2016, the top 13 all-arounders and two specialists at nationals were invited, and in 2012, it was the top 10 all-arounders and five specialists at nationals.

Are there judges that are taking notes during podium training? What are they writing down?

For international events like worlds and the Olympics, each country brings a judge along who typically gets assigned to a judging position at the meet, and the judge generally also hangs out with the team at training sessions judging her country’s routines to help them figure out what needs work as they go into the competition. For the U.S., the judge is Cheryl Hamilton, and she was also sitting at Martha Karolyi’s side at the U.S. Olympic Trials, judging routines for her and Martha’s personal use in addition to the actual judges working the event. At the Olympics, Cheryl was the head judge on beam, but before her judging duties began, she was most likely along with team USA at podium training, judging the team’s routines to see how they’d score if it was the actual meet.

What’s so difficult about the Cheng? It looks easier than the Amanar to me.

It’s not as difficult in terms of number of twists (the Amanar has 2½ twists and the Cheng has 1½) which is why it naturally looks easier if you’re not as used to watching vault, but the greater difficulty is two-fold. First, the entry is a roundoff with a half twist before hitting the table whereas the Amanar entry is just a roundoff. Second, the Amanar is done in a back layout while the Cheng has a front layout after the block, which is a much more difficult body position to maintain coming off the table and in the post-flight.

I noticed that a lot of retired gymnasts have become coaches and commentators. Is this common? Do a lot of gymnasts stay involved in some way? What are the other retired pros doing?

Many gymnasts do stay involved in the sport in some way, whether that’s through judging or coaching or a little bit of both, but many others go on to have non-gymnastics careers as well, like Mackenzie Caquatto is currently working as a teacher, Amy Chow is a doctor, etc. A small number also may become commentators. There aren’t tons and tons of commentator spots available, and since gymnastics isn’t happening year-round, pretty much all of those who do commentary jobs have jobs outside of that. The only commentator I can think of who is hoping for a real career in media is Sam Peszek, who works for PAC 12 and also worked for NBC this summer. But TV networks like having gymnasts who were big names as competitors come back and call the meets, so many — like Amanda Borden, who owns a gym and coaches — will do the commentator thing as a kind of part-time gig but also have ‘real’ jobs that give them a steady income.

Why do you think USA Gymnastics separated men’s and women’s trials?

Martha Karolyi liked to wait as long as humanly possible to name teams, whereas the men’s team coordinator wanted to name his team a little earlier. When she was in the coordinator role, Martha generally named world teams at camp a few days before they had to leave the country, and I’m sure if she didn’t have a deadline to submit names to the USOC for the Olympic team, she’d do the same. In the past, the U.S. would hold trials and Martha would pick a couple of gymnasts for the team and then choose the rest at camp, but beginning in 2012, against Martha’s will, USA Gym and the USOC made trials the official team selection rather than at a later camp behind closed doors, so as a compromise, they put the women’s trials as close to the Games as possible.

Why does MyKayla Skinner get a worlds medal and ring if she was the alternate? When did USA Gymnastics start giving out rings for worlds?

As far back as I can remember seeing them posting, USA Gym has given rings for worlds…I don’t know about 2003 or 2007 since there wasn’t really social media then, but after 2011 I remember seeing tons of photos from the girls who got their rings at a ceremony at the ranch. USA Gym generally has always celebrated the alternate as part of the team. In the past, alternates didn’t receive medals at the FIG’s discretion, but this quad the FIG decided to give world medals to alternates, which I think is great because they work just as hard and with none of the glory. It’s a nice gesture to thank them for their service to the team.

Why is there a J.O. national team? Are there meets they are sent to like the elite gymnasts?

They aren’t sent to any meets. It’s more of a badge of honor than anything. It’s like being named to an all-conference or all-tournament team in other sports. They get to go to a camp at the ranch just like TOPs gymnasts do, but there’s no team that’s actually out competing as one big national J.O. team.

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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6 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Is giving the alternates a medal really the best way to thank them for their service to the team? I have mixed feelings. I agree that they worked as hard as the other members, but they didn’t compete in the competition. Shouldn’t the team members who competed be rewarded more for putting up routines to earn the medal?

    (I know this is a weak argument that can also be extended to not giving medals members who didn’t compete. Still wanted to share my thoughts.)

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    • I half agree and disagree. There really isn’t that much else you can do to thank them for their service, they trained so hard for so long, participated in the trainings, did everything the same as their team members up until competition day, the only thing they want for that is a medal. On the contrary, it doesn’t make much sense to give a medal to someone who didn’t compete or contribute. I do understand giving medals to someone who didn’t go up I qualifying because they’re still on the official roster and usually put up scores in qualifying that go toward getting the team into finals in the first place. And even if they didn’t ultimately contribute a score (if there were to be a scenario like Rose at this years olympics) they still competed on the apparatus under the competition lights. But an alternate didn’t compete under the competition lights once, didn’t contribute or really do anything toward the teams score, technically not really meriting a medal.

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      • the question is what you count as contribution. I think it is a lovely gesture. They contribute in other ways. They cheer the teammates on, I assume they also take on small “menial” tasks such as pulling boards or matts or something. They are part of the team up until it is announced who is alternate. I think they actually have a really hard job because they are always on the bubble.
        I also love that they give a medal to the team coach. I hope they keep those things up

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, but then you’re valuing how much everyone contributes and it gets messy. Does Simone deserve a full gold medal because she contributed on all four events but then Madison and Gabby only deserve a quarter of it? I think if you start breaking it down by who contributed the most and least it gets to be like “so and so is more deserving because she did more events!!!” and then others would be less deserving if they only did one event or fell or something. Not really anything to do with the alternates, but in any team sport, some are going to do more work and contribute more than others, but it’s about the team, not what each person contributed to the team, so it’s unfair to talk about who “did the most” because then it gets to the whole “some people are undeserving” aspect which is messy.

        In terms of the alternates, no, they don’t compete, but they’re still considered part of the team. At first, this was just a federation by federation gesture, but the FIG made it an all-encompassing gesture in the sport when they opted to give medals to alternates this quad. Medals are obviously won when they’re won, but weeks of work go into that 90 minute competition, and the only thing the alternates miss out on are those last 90 minutes. If you’re gonna break it down by who “contributes” the most, then you have to look at the whole picture, not just the competition itself, and alternates are technically “contributing” just as much to the value of the team as anyone else even if they’re not physically competing for those final 90 minutes in the arena.

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  2. I think it was already 2012 (not 2016) when the Oly team was selected at Oly trials. (Never will forget all these happy tears 🙂 )

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