It’s time for the 121st 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.
Do you know what happened to Raluca Haidu, Amelia Racea, Ana Porgras, and Diana Chelaru after they retired?
They’re basically all just living their lives as normal human people. Nothing really beyond that worth mentioning…I believe Amelia got married pretty recently, maybe a couple of months ago, but I haven’t seen any major news about the rest of them.
Do you think Bailie Key will do elite in 2017 or drop down to level 10 and prepare for college?
As far as I know, she’s planning on doing elite in 2017 to attempt to make worlds that fall before leaving for college in the spring semester. This can obviously change based on how she’s doing physically with her injuries and everything, but others have done it before, with starting the school year in the second semester so they could try to go to worlds, so it’s definitely not out of the question for Bailie.
What was Alyssa Baumann’s actual D score for beam this year? Some people said D scores were inflated and that the judges added points that aren’t there.
Judges at most domestic competitions around the world often inflate in terms of execution scores, but it’s kind of impossible to inflate D scores unless they’re just crediting skills or connections that maybe international judges wouldn’t credit due to an incomplete skill or slow connection or another reason that would make the skill not valid, but that’s a judgment call.
This year, Alyssa competed a standing arabian (F), front aerial (D) + sissone (A), bhs (B) + loso (C) + loso (C), switch leap (C) + switch half (D), full turn (A), switch ring (E), Onodi (D) + wolf jump (A), side aerial (D), and double pike dismount (E). She got the 2.5 for requirements, her total skill value was 3.5 (FEEDDDDC), and she had 0.5 in bonuses for a total of 6.5 if she hit everything. At nationals, the judges gave her a 6.5 on her first day of competition and a 6.3 on her second day, where she only performed a bhs + loso flight series instead of her usual triple series, costing her 0.1 for the C+C bonus and a 0.1 series bonus.
Have any other women successfully completed the laid-out double Arabian aside from Daiane dos Santos?
I actually can’t remember…I don’t think so, at least not anyone on the major international scene in the past decade or so. Kennedy Baker probably came the closest with her super open pike on her piked double arabian. She’s basically doing it in a layout!
How exactly do gymnasts retire? Do they leave their club/contract which takes them out of the FIG and IOC database? Do they have to break commitments?
They can just decide not to keep training anymore and have that be the end of it, basically. Some gyms do require contracts but most don’t…you don’t need permission from your coach to retire unless you have some weird deal worked out or something, but that’s unusual. The FIG database has nothing to do with retirement, and many gymnasts who retire stay in the FIG database basically until their license needs to be renewed because they don’t need to tell the FIG they’re done. They do technically break commitments when they retire and leave their gym, but nothing legally-binding, again, unless they’re from a very small percentage of gyms with contracts (I’ve heard of like, one gym ever in my life that has had a contract requiring them to give notice before retiring or changing gyms). I guess it could get dicey if they’re pro and have endorsement deals…some companies may not want to pay a retired athlete to endorse stuff, but both Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson are still doing pretty well professionally having retired four years ago, so even that might not be a huge issue, though I’m sure sponsors would want a heads up.
Why do so many former elites from the U.S. and other countries opt to go to UCLA?
Many elites go all over the place throughout the top ten programs, but UCLA I think gets a lot of international gymnasts because they actively recruit them. Funnily enough, some of the biggest international NCAA programs are those you may have never really heard of, like UIC and Alaska. Both of these programs do extensive outreach to international clubs, which is why UIC has gymnasts from South Africa, Canada, and Germany, while Alaska had a couple of girls from Germany and Austria in recent years (though both graduated last year, I believe). It’s also easier for international gymnasts to decide to compete in NCAA programs when they have teammates or know others from the elite world who have gone out and done them, so if UCLA and UIC and Alaska have established themselves as popular programs among international students, it’ll keep others pouring in.
Why do some former Soviet states not have strong programs especially when in the past their gymnasts were stars?
Even though countries like Belarus and Uzbekistan and others were once part of the gymnastics powerhouse that existed in the Soviet Union, the training was centralized in what is now Russia. Gymnasts technically from these countries trained in the big centralized system at Lake Krugloye. When the Soviet Union dissolved, the Russian program continued using the Soviet facilities in Moscow, so Russian gymnasts didn’t have much of a change, but gymnasts from other former Soviet states no longer had use of a big centralized program in one of the largest countries in the world. Also, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there was a huge migration during which many Soviet coaches ended up all over the world, working for programs in Great Britain, the United States, Germany, Canada…you name it. Former Soviet state gymnasts kept up somewhat impressive performances throughout the late 90s, but once those generations started retiring and the younger gymnasts were purely products of their home programs, not lingering remnants of the Soviet program, they almost all fell off the map.
How could a gymnast deemed not medically fit to compete at a top university be embraced by another school (in the case of Peyton Ernst)?
With Peyton, she wasn’t satisfied with her medical treatment plan at Florida. She didn’t have a great experience compared to others with equally demanding injuries (like Alex McMurtry with her back injuries), and so she wanted to transfer to a different school so she could continue competing again once healthy. She wasn’t medically released from Florida as someone unfit to compete, but rather because she requested a release so she could transfer and they gave her a medical release. That doesn’t mean she can never compete with strong results ever again, and other schools knew that.
Why are there so many new Shaposhnikova and stalder variations? Has the start value gone up?
There haven’t really been any new shaposh or stalder variations in about a decade or more, aside from the more recent Komova I and II and the Seitz, both of which were in the code after 2012. The bulk of the shaposh variations came out around 2000-2004 (give or take), with the Khorkina, the Maloney, the van Leeuwen, the Chow, etc. There is a difficulty cap on transitions, so the highest value for any shaposh variation is an E, which is what the more difficult variations like Komova’s skills and the Seitz are worth. Both Viktoria Komova and Elisabeth Seitz probably just wanted to add new skills of their own into their bar routines, not fight for higher start value skills, since they knew going in about the cap. As for stalder variations, I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about…stalders and inbars aren’t really new, and there’s no real variety coming with them, unless you’re performing them into transitions (like a Chow), releases (like a Ricna), or pirouettes (like an inbar full).
Why doesn’t Oksana Chusovitina do a Yurchenko vault?
It’s hard for me to answer why a gymnast does or doesn’t do a certain kind of skill because I’m not the gymnast and it could be for literally any reason. Usually, the skills gymnasts train have to do with what their coaches are coaching them to do, and it’s possible early in her career, Oksana just didn’t have any coaches who were pushing Yurchenkos, but also it could just be as simple as she doesn’t like vaulting backwards onto the table (which is why she sticks to handsprings and tsuks rather than Yurchenkos and Yurchenko half-ons).
How do you become a college gymnastics coach?
Everyone’s path can kind of vary…generally what we see most as of late are retired collegiate gymnasts who then take volunteer coaching roles or team manager roles for their former programs, and then get hired by schools looking for assistant coaches, and then eventually work their way up to head coach. Other times you will see coaches at club gyms transition over to NCAA programs, first into assistant roles and then maybe eventually to head coach, and then you also have those random instances where a coach has never done gymnastics before but somehow in a twist of fate began working with an NCAA team in some capacity and realized coaching was in their future (like Miss Val at UCLA, who was a dancer/choreographer and became a coach). If you’re thinking you want to coach NCAA but haven’t ever been a gymnast or involved in gym at all, try to go to a college with an NCAA gym program and see if you can volunteer to push mats around or something, or try to get a job at a club gym teaching rec kids how to somersault. You have to kinda start from the bottom, and you might never get a job coaching at the college level, but maybe you’ll find you really like coaching rec or J.O. or something? You should also get your judging certification! Some coaches do both, and it couldn’t hurt in terms of knowing what to look for from the gymnasts you’re coaching.
Can Great Britain still qualify to European Championships after Brexit?
Yup! The European Union of Gymnastics has nothing to do with the actual European Union, and many of the countries that compete at European Championships have nothing to do with the EU. According to the UEG, they “united 50 national federations reaching far beyond the borders of political Europe.” I’d say if anything, the European nations in gymnastics are decided more geographically, and they also include Israel, whose geopolitics put them more on the European sphere, as they’re a member in many European transnational federations and frameworks and thus tend to be lumped into Europe for many sports associations (and fun fact, they’re also Eurovision participants because their broadcasting company is a member of the European Broadcasting Union).
Would Ali Jackson’s or Angi Cipra’s NCAA floor routines be allowed in elite given that Jackson’s has a chalk puff in her choreo and Cipra has a phone ringtone effect in her music?
There’s nothing in the FIG rules that explicitly forbid either of these things…Laura Jurca had a similar kind of chalk effect in her routine, where she’d clap her hands and make a puff of chalk at the start of her choreo. I guess they could say the chalk is a ‘prop’ in Ali’s routine, which isn’t really allowed, but she could just say all she’s doing is the blowing motion in her choreo and that the chalk just happens to fly around, totally not on purpose! Haha…as for Cipra, the phone ringing is technically part of her music so they couldn’t really forbid it, but the code says something about your music having to be ‘flawless’ so I guess she could get a deduction if they think that effect ruins her music or something.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins