You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

Rio Olympics Artistic Gymnastics Women

It’s time for the 124th 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.

When is “When It Counts” coming out?

It’s actually out NOW! It came out a couple of weeks ago, and you can buy it on Amazon as either an e-book or hard copy, or from basically any other company that sells e-books.

Did Rio have less depth than London, especially in the all-around? A lot gave me an impression that it was lackluster in comparison.

Not really…I mean, for the all-around medals podium, yeah. Once the all-around finalists were decided, it was gonna be Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and Aliya Mustafina on that podium if they all hit. Not super exciting, and the only way someone else was gonna sneak in would have been if one of these had a fall (or let’s be real, multiple falls in Simone’s case). But there were only four major podium threats in London, so it was a little more challenging (and obviously ended with that insane tiebreaker making it all crazy dramatic) but the depth wasn’t that much more intense.

The fields overall were fairly equal, and 2016 might have been a little more exciting had gymnasts like Giulia Steingruber, Rebeca Andrade, and Ellie Downie had better days (or had Shang Chunsong been scored more fairly, sorry not sorry). This year, you had about 12 gymnasts realistically capable of going 58+ in the all-around, whereas in 2012 that number was around nine gymnasts with that potential. Still pretty equal, in my opinion, though 2012 definitely ended up being a bit more dramatic with the four who were fighting for the three podium spots.

Are the American gymnasts who went to NCAA this year done with elite? Many gymnasts this summer showed age doesn’t mean much right now. Is it possible to see Maggie Nichols make a comeback?

Most are done, yes. It’s pretty rare to see a gymnast return to elite once she’s been through an NCAA career. It can happen, and has happened, but chances are even the gymnasts who are gung ho right now about potentially returning one day will probably lose interest in that dream once they spend their time in college growing up and finding new dreams (or realizing that their bodies in no way will be able to handle the stress of training elite again). Mohini Bhardwaj did it after graduating from UCLA and made the 2004 Olympic team, and Anna Li, a fellow UCLA grad, returned and was an alternate in 2012, so it’s not impossible. You never know who will come away from NCAA still with that spark and drive to keep going. But more often than not, they move on.

Do we know why Anna Pavlova changed her second pass to a 2.5 rather than a whip to triple during her team finals floor routine? The British commentator said her arms were up, meaning to do a punch front out of it. Was she saving the whip to triple for the third pass?

I don’t think she meant to punch out of a 2.5 in that routine. I think she meant to do the whip to triple, landed short and put her arms out in case she fell forward, not because she was going to punch out. I think the commentator you’re talking about was Christine, and I think maybe Christine didn’t know that Anna was supposed to do a whip to triple? She says “I imagine she was supposed to do a front somersault out” and thought that was her two-somersault pass, worrying about whether she’d be able to fit in a pass with two somersaults later on, but that second pass was always a whip to triple and the third was always a front handspring to front full to front layout stepout. If you go back and watch that second pass in slo mo, you can see it’s kind of awkward from the start, so I think it was just a mistake and that she knew it felt off and so opted for a wonky 2.5 rather than trying to get the triple all the way around.

Do you think Chayse Capps would go elite after college?

Nah. She’s fantastic but has nowhere near the elite skill level and would need a major overhaul of all of her routines. I mean, if she lived in the Netherlands, I’d say yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Chayse Capps with Dutch elite routines? To quote Mariah Carey, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” But the best thing about Chayse is her dance ability and attention to detail with her technique, not huge skills. It would be amazing and I’d be all for it, but she wouldn’t be very competitive in the U.S. without lots and lots of upgrades.

What was Carly Patterson’s first tumbling pass on floor? Have any other elites done it?

It was a tucked full-in, and yes, roughly nine million other elites have done it! It was Simone Biles’ final pass in her routine this year, and for gymnasts who aren’t quite as advanced as tumblers, you’ll often see it as their first or second pass. The full-in is an E element in both the tucked and piked positions, putting it on par with a double arabian, triple full, and double front, a big skill but still fairly common at the elite level and also competed by the stronger NCAA and level 10 tumblers.

Gabby Douglas seemed to do much better on bars this quad. Was she better overall or was the international field weaker?

I think she was a different bar worker than she was four years ago, if that makes sense? Not necessarily better or worse, but different. I think in 2012, she relied more on being a trickster, with huge releases but less finesse. This quad, I think she had more attention to detail on more difficult combinations, which made her slightly stronger in 2016 than she was in 2012. She was obviously still pretty fabulous in 2012, and if I remember correctly, her London all-around routine scored about the same as her qualifications and team finals routines this year, but I personally preferred her bars this quad (though I did miss the “flying squirrel” releases that put her on the map).

What are those big shoes gymnasts wear on bars?

I think you’re talking about the ankle weights? Or maybe the heel pads? I’ll chat about both, because why not? Ankle weights are generally used to help strengthen core muscles and build endurance, so gymnasts will train skills with the weights and then when they take them off, the skills and routines feel a bit easier. Some coaches like this, but others think the added weights can lead to injury. The heel pads, on the other hand, are basically just to protect the heels from smacking the low bar on giants or smacking the high bar on releases. Most gymnasts just use volleyball knee pads or hockey elbow pads…I don’t think anyone makes heel pads specifically for gymnasts.

What has Nica Hults been up to? Is she still going to UCLA?

According to a video on Instagram, Nica Hults has retired from gymnastics. She returned to the sport as a level 10 early this year after dealing with injuries throughout 2014 (she competed elite this year but was limited to bars and beam) and 2015, and she had a great couple of meets back at invitationals like Texas Prime and the Glider’s Invitational. But then at the WOGA Classic, she fell on floor and hit her head, which effectively ended her season and her career. I remember her talking about getting over a fear of competing skills as she returned to level 10, so that fall likely brought that fear right back, which is a sad way to go out. As far as I know, she’s no longer going to UCLA.

Why did Gabby Douglas get a 0.1 penalty in her floor routine in qualifications?

She stepped out of bounds not on one of her passes but in the prep going into her second pass, the tucked full-in to back tuck. You could kind of see her heel go out, and then the line judge glances down and raises her flag just as Gabby starts her run into the pass. Bummer to make such a bizarre mistake, but it ultimately didn’t affect the outcome of anything for either the team or her individual qualification, so no biggie.

Why did Aliya Mustafina stop doing a backwards acro series on beam?

No idea. Let’s strangle her, shall we? I often go back to the days of yore where her beam routine didn’t go hand in hand with me having a million panic attacks, because clearly the front series isn’t working for her and has caused more harm than good in recent years. I like that she seems to be pretty awesome with having a million backups…I believe it was at the Russian Cup at one point, maybe in 2014, where she casually had about three beam routine variations in her back pocket. I like when gymnasts are so flexible that they get to play around with routines to see what works and what doesn’t. But in her case, they saw what didn’t work and…kept it anyway? Which was fun for everyone. Hopefully in the future, she’ll learn from what happened this quad and will KISS (keep it simple, stupid). I don’t care if you think a bhs loso is too basic for you, Aliya! You’re doing it.

Has Tatiana Nabieva had a barani in her beam routine for long? I only noticed it at the Russian Cup.

She had it at one point, back in the day…I can’t remember the last time we saw it, but it was definitely in her routine in the last quad, definitely in 2012 at some point. I don’t think she had it in 2014 or competed it at every meet but it’s been bouncing in and out of her routines for a few years now and is not a new skill for her. Seriously, go Tatiana, because it looked fabulous at the Russian Cup. I know after missing out on the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, she’s really pushing for 2020, so who knows? Maybe she’ll become a beam badass and steal the show at the ripe old age of 25. I’m all for it.

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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23 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Do you think the Russian vets (Mustafina, Paseka, Komova) will continue or do you think that they’re pretty much done? And if they do, do you believe that they have a chance to make Tokyo? (Actually I think Paseka got added to the 2017 national team but I’m not 100% sure on this)

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    • As far as I know, Paseka and Komova are pretty much done…like, they’re trying to come back but their bodies are pretty done. I know Paseka is going in for some medical procedure and she said something in a recent interview (like two weeks ago) about how her future in the sport will depend on how this procedure goes. Aliya is planning on returning after a 2 year break so probably 2019?

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      • For Mustafna I’m not so sure. She said in a interview I believe after she returned from Rio that she’s tired of the gym and she would only return if she missed it. But then again knowing Mustafina’s trend of putting everything she has on the line for the team’s I’m not completely sure.

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        • Yeah, this interview was more recent…like within the past couple of weeks. She said she gave it some thought and is planning on coming back after a two-year break. Of course that can change but that seems to be her plan for now.

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  2. Yes, I was watching Nica’s live stream on Instagram during Dream Big night and she said she’s not going to UCLA anymore. I love these posts too! And I didn’t realize your book was out–I’m going to order it right now!!

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    • Thanks so much!! I didn’t see Nica’s live stream but someone else saw it and told me about it so I was sad for that…I know how happy and moved she was when she got a spot so this was really sad to see how her career panned out.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for these posts, as always. Happy New Year!

    I think Carly did a half-in half-out, instead of a full-in. I know they’re the same skill, but maybe the original question was asking about the technique?

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    • Ahh maybe, yeah. I honestly had no idea she did it half and half! I always assumed it was a full. I’ll have to actually go back and watch her routine now but yeah, it’s technically a full-twisting double back, but the technique of a half in half out really does make a difference!

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    • Yeah, someone I was talking to about that during Rio was like “um she does this ALL THE TIME” I guess in practice and in podium training if not always in meets and I was like lawd GABBY why?! Such a funny way to lose a tenth.

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  4. I believe Mustafina really dislikes/is uncomfortable/is scared of? doing backwards skills on beam, which is why they’ve been slowly disappearing.

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  5. Carly’s first pass on floor actully wasn’t a full-in. It was a half-in [flip] half-out. Not a full twist on the first flip, none on the second. And I’m actually unsure of others who’ve competed it. I’m sure they have but it’s so odd when a full-in is easier for so many as it builds on so many other skills they already have. I’d imagine that’s why the asker asked because it’s so bizarre compared to what we’re used to seeing from athletes.

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    • After posting I realized another commenter said the same thing, but also said “I know they’re the same skill”, but they really aren’t. There IS a full twisting rotation *total* in the element, but where that twisting comes in relation to the double salto portion isn’t the same as a full-in. She’s definitely twisting in both saltos and not just having a “free” tuck in the second as you see in a full-in.

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      • Hmm, I always saw it as a full-in…I’ll have to go back and watch again but to me it always looked like the first flip had the whole twist. As for others who have done a half in half out, Brandie Jay did that in NCAA and it was a true half in half out…I feel like Carly’s is more like Simone’s “full-ins” where they’re often actually more half and half but the majority of the flip is in the first flip if that makes sense. Like Brandie’s you could clearly see where she was doing the twists but Carly’s and Simone’s based on my memory of them looked a little more ambiguous?? I could just be misremembering.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Should Aliya just take a page out of Sanne’s book and do a cartwheel + cartwheel series? Her cartwheels always look more stable than her aerials.

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    • I think the D+D series might be gone now?? I think that’s going to be an issue with Sanne’s routine going forward actually. I have to double check on that but I remember that being the one big thing Sanne will have to change going forward.

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