You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 122nd 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.

Why has the Romanian consistency/difficulty fallen so drastically?

They have a handful of high-caliber athletes with big skills and solid enough consistency, but when these gymnasts aren’t around, there’s very little depth to back them up. At full health, they can present themselves as a team that can threaten the podium, but injuries completely change the game because they’re replacing someone like Larisa Iordache who can get near a 60 all-around score with someone inexperienced and only capable of earning around a 53 at best. Compare that to the U.S. If Simone Biles got injured and had to skip Rio, they could’ve brought in MyKayla Skinner or Ragan Smith, who wouldn’t get near the 62 Simone was capable of, but they could both still get a solid 58 or 59 and could be relied on to hit strong routines thanks to their experience both internationally and competing in front of Martha Karolyi at the ranch. In Romania, the young seniors who aren’t the best in the country generally don’t tend to get much experience at all, and so there’s no way for them to grow into stronger gymnasts.

There has also been an issue with juniors transitioning into senior roles with the team because they’d train most of their junior elite careers at Deva, but then they’d move on to the senior national program which had a vastly different atmosphere. Laura Jurca’s dad at one point said that when she was at Deva, she’d come home exhausted and fall into bed every night, was always super fit, and was really excelling in the sport…but then when she moved on to the senior level, she trained nowhere near as hard and didn’t really advance to a higher level, instead regressing a bit. Usually when a gymnast becomes a senior, she adds skills and increases her difficulty, but in Romania, the majority of juniors lose skills and ability when they become seniors because of how that was structured. Then they go to compete internationally, aren’t successful, and the federation would no longer bring them to international meets, causing them to lose interest and eventually quit the sport.

After the team’s failure to qualify for the Olympics this year, Deva is kind of becoming the command center for the juniors and the younger seniors, so that the current crop of super promising juniors like Olivia Cimpian, Ioana Crisan, and Denisa Golgota will stay at a high level. A few of the older gymnasts like Larisa, Catalina Ponor, and Diana Bulimar are going to continue to train in Bucharest, but overall the program will be more cohesive and have better direction than it has in the past couple of quads.

Last year during the NCAA season you posted the times and ways to watch each gymnastics meet. Are you going to do that again?

Yup! We already put together the master schedule, which details the date and time for every single college meet in the 2017 season. We don’t currently have links to streams and stats because most schools don’t post direct links until the week of (and some don’t do it until the day of). We’ll update this list as the links become available each week.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of each vault family?

I don’t know if there are any real advantages or disadvantages? It’s kind of a personal preference or whatever you can do best. Some gymnasts don’t like going backwards onto the table so they don’t do Yurchenko vaults and instead stick to front handsprings or tsuks. Some prefer the roundoff entry so they do Yurchenkos and Yurcheko half-ons. Others feel comfortable doing any of the entries and are fine. The only other insight I have is that coming off the table, it’s easier for many gymnasts to do a back flip than it is to do a front flip, especially in a layout position. Often, front layouts can look arched and awkward if not done right, so in that case, the entry itself might not matter, but a gymnast might prefer a Yurchenko or tsuk entry just for the back exit off the table. So basically, it’s about personal preference, and the advantages of one vault family for one gymnast might be disadvantages for another gymnast.

Are there any bonuses for sticking landings on dismounts?

No. Bonuses exist at some domestic meets if each federation decides to make them things, like the U.S. does for some domestic meets where they give gymnasts a tenth in bonus added to their D scores if they stick landings at classics or nationals, and other countries also have their own versions of bonuses, both for sticking and for gymnasts who add more difficult skills into their routines. But in the actual code of points, there is no such thing as a “bonus.” Basically, your reward for sticking is not getting tenths taken off for not sticking.

Do gymnasts ever get to see their deductions from the judges in terms of E scores?

I’m not sure and think it depends on the competition…I don’t know how it works with getting “itemized” detailed lists of how deductions were taken, but I know at most major competitions, because you’re not allowed to challenge your E score, there’s no reason to itemize the deductions. It would be helpful in terms of helping gymnasts figure out what they need to work on, but that’s why each federation has their own judges who do this for them. They may itemize deductions and share them with the gymnasts to help with improvements, but the job of international judges at major meets is really just to judge routines.

In Rio qualifications, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman got the same score on beam — same difficulty, same execution, same everything. Neither made the final because of the two-per-country rule, but if Simone Biles had fallen in qualifications, would both of them have gotten spots? Would Martha have to choose?

I’m not sure how this would have worked out because you’re dealing with both two-per-country and same exact scores. If it was Aly tied exactly with someone from a different country, they probably both would have gotten to compete, because there is no tie-breaker beyond that (in earlier years, the tie-breaker beyond that was dropping the lowest individual judge E score and then averaging three instead of all four, but I don’t think that is a thing anymore). But because they’re from the same country and Laurie Hernandez already would’ve had one of the spots, the tie-breaking wouldn’t matter as much as the two-per-country thing. Do they even have something set in place there? Maybe the national team coordinator would get to pick? Maybe they’d both get to go because it was an even tie? Honestly, no clue. I’m truly stumped and didn’t read anything that they had set in place prior to the meet, so if that had happened, they probably would’ve had to convene about how they would decide who officially would qualify in. Apparently something similar happened with Italy at Euros in 2013 and the federation had to choose between the two…rules at the Olympics are different from FIG events but I’d imagine the same thing would happen there.

While the Romanians have never been great on bars, they have seen some success, particularly with Ana Porgras winning a world medal. What has changed since then?

I don’t know if anything has changed so much as them just not really having any gifted bar workers in the mix. Every country known for certain strengths always gets a gymnast now and then who doesn’t fit the mold (like Cheng Fei in China or Seda Tutkhalyan in Russia). If anything, the biggest thing that has changed was the international bars depth…when Ana won her bars medal, it was with a 14.675 in a field with many other gymnasts who had relatively low difficulty (He Kexin came in with a 7.0 start value and won the gold with a 16.0 but everyone else in the final had difficulty ranging from about 5.9 to 6.3, and on average scores for hit routines were somewhere around a 14.5).

Larisa Iordache has scored better on bars than Ana did when she won bronze (at worlds in 2015, Larisa got a 14.8 on bars in the all-around final and she regularly got around 14.6-14.7 with hit routines this past quad), but in the years Larisa competed, the bars depth was vastly different than it was in 2009. In 2013, all of the bars D scores ranged from 6.1 to 6.6 and the medalists were all at 15.033 or higher. Ana would’ve qualified at the bottom of that final and at the bottom of the 2015 final, and she wouldn’t have made the final in 2014 or 2016.

Even though her bar work was lovely and beautiful to watch and more than you can expect from most Romanians, she only medaled in 2009 because bars depth then was basically nonexistent. In the later years of this quad, there were at least eight gymnasts who could reach 15.5, and a couple dozen who could regularly hit 15. At its place in time, her bar routine was magnificent, but as depth increased over that quad and this past quad, her routine would’ve needed major upgrades to keep up.

What is the format for worlds in 2017?

Four gymnasts per country will compete in an individual format, with qualifications held to determine gymnasts to compete in the subsequent all-around and event finals. So no team competition.

I was watching floor routines from 2008 and noticed they do five tumbling passes, as opposed to four in more recent years. Why is that?

That was just the rule in the code for the 2006-2008 quad. Things change all the time, and in that code, it allowed for five tumbling passes. The code after that only allowed for four. Basically this was a measure taken to keep the balance between tumbling and dance elements, because routines were going from counting ten elements to counting only eight. A routine in the new code with five tumbling passes and only eight counted elements would mean there would be very little focus on dance elements, which are lower-valued anyway. Gymnasts who weren’t super powerful tumblers and tried to make leaps and turns more of a focus would be at a huge disadvantage, even more so than they are now.

Is Diana Bulimar still off the national team or did she get back? Did that mean she didn’t get any money when she was training at her local gym?

From what I heard, she is back in Bucharest and is training as part of the national team again. When she was off the national team, I believe her funding was cut, but I’m not sure how that works within their system. Maybe because it was only a temporary leave, they kept her funded? Again, I don’t know the specifics, but generally when a gymnast isn’t contributing to the team in the way they’re expected to for a significant amount of time, funding is usually cut, if not taken away completely, though for minor injuries that don’t take you out for too long there might be exceptions.

Do you think countries like Japan, Brazil, Germany, and Canada will get these specialist spots for 2020 or will only the top countries actually get them? Can you explain how qualification for specialists works?

Pretty much anyone can get them, and they’re not “specialist spots.” They’re “individual spots” for all-arounders and event specialists. A full explanation for how individuals can qualify to the Olympics in 2020 is available in our guide to understanding the new quad rules.

Just because top countries like the U.S. and Russia and China will likely get at least one of the two available individual spots doesn’t mean other countries won’t be able to get them. There are 50 individual spots available, which is enough for each of the countries with full teams to have two individual spots in addition to their team spots, and there will still be 24 spots left over for countries that didn’t qualify full teams. Some countries with full teams will qualify gymnasts into both of their additional spots and other countries with full teams will qualify zero extra spots. It all depends on which countries actually have the depth that will allow them to qualify additional all-arounders or event specialists.

Is Jordyn Wieber a senior at UCLA now?

Yes, she is a senior and is working for the gymnastics program as the volunteer assistant coach, a step up from her former gig as team manager.

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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5 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Interesting comment made by Laura Jurca’s father about transitioning from junior to senior. I guess the same thing happened to Andrea Iridon, who was one of the most promising juniors in Romania a couple of years back. She definitely regressed as a senior, and it was so disappointing to watch, and then also to learn of her retirement from the sport. At least Laura Jurca is still hanging in there (did you see the routines she did in Germany recently?). Let’s hope the current crop of juniors are more successful.

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  2. How does the qualification for the 2020 individual spots work? I know that it’s point based determined by your performance at FIG sponsored events, but do you get the spot based on your World Cup ranking relative to the other gymnasts, or by a certain number of points needed to qualify?

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  3. I think for example if Aly and Gabby (2nd and 3rd gymnast from same country) tied in quals, there are tie breakers procedure.
    The gymnast with higher E score would go in to finals.
    If they had the same E score, the gymnast with less neutral deduction/penalty, would go.
    If both had same D and E score, the federation (USAGym) chose which one.

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