You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 128th 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.

I’ve seen a lot of jokes about “cheeseburgers on horse.” What does it mean?

At worlds in 2015, Chris Brooks was being a bro and giving motivational speeches during qualifications, and he said something about how when they go to pommels they’ll have to get some “cheeseburgers on horse, baby” or something else bro-y. It was something about getting cheeseburgers and blondes and mansions which I think was a metaphor for doing well on pommels? He explained the story on Gymcastic which I haven’t listened to yet but I’m guessing it was supposed to be some kind of inside motivational joke for BROS ONLY.

What’s a late pirouette on bars?

When a gymnast turns on uneven bars, she’s supposed to finish the turn in a perfect 180 handstand on top of the bar, but often because of things like gravity and rotational pull, because she’s in the middle of rotating through a giant swing while doing the pirouette, she might not be completely done with the turn while still in handstand and could still be finishing it up when she’s already over the bar and on her way down again. This is actually a fairly common error…I think it’s more rare to see a perfect pirouette right on top of the bar because almost everyone ends up being at least a tiny bit late in finishing up. Unless you’re still pirouetting when you’re horizontal to the ground, it’s not a huge deal and could be one of those little things where you’ll always be a few degrees off no matter how hard you try, so most don’t stress over it if you see a gymnast a little late. It’s not a major routine-destroying error or anything.

There are a variety of countries making vault finals but don’t have the same abilities on other apparatuses to make those finals or even the all-around. Bars, beam, and floor finalists almost always consist of gymnasts from “the big four.” Is this because vault is the “easiest” to train? Or because of financial reasons – not enough money to buy quality bars, beam, etc?

It’s all about the depth. At the Olympics, there were 98 gymnasts in total. In qualifications, 79 of them (or 80.6% of the total) competed bars, and 82 of them (83.7% of the total) competed beam and floor. Conversely, only 19 gymnasts competed two vaults, which is only 19.4% of those at the competition, and of those 19, only three were from the big four (all of whom qualified to the final). Because of the lack of depth from the bigger countries, gymnasts from smaller programs have less competition, and thus an easier shot at getting in. If the U.S., Russia, China, and all of the other bigger full-team countries there each put up four gymnasts with two vaults in qualifications like they did on bars, beam, and floor (well, China opted to only put up three on beam, but you catch my drift), you can pretty much bet that the vault final would be overrun with gymnasts from big programs. There would be wiggle room for some individual gymnasts to get in — like Jessica Lopez making the bars final and Giulia Steingruber making floor — but you wouldn’t see a final with four individual gymnasts from small programs the way we did this year.

There is a financial side to this as well, as a lack of resources plays into things like equipment and coaching, which can obviously affect a gymnast’s ability and why elements that require a great deal of technical knowledge (ahem, bars) are places where gymnasts from smaller programs struggle. Many times, you get small program gymnasts who have tons of power and talent that isn’t exactly harnessed, which is what I’d say about someone like Dipa Karmakar…coaches without much technical expertise can get Dipa chucking huge skills, but there’s not as much finesse to her gymnastics as you’d get from someone who might not be as powerful or talented but who has the best resources at her fingertips. A Produnova is crazy difficult only because of the amount of power it takes to rotate that thing around; an Amanar takes power, but it also takes a lot more skill and a coach who can coach it correctly which is why you see a lot of chucked Produnovas but not a lot of chucked Amanars.

To wrap up, if there was a a greater number of gymnasts training difficult vaults and making the vault final a priority, someone like Dipa might not make the final. On the other hand, if only 19% of gymnasts were competing other events like beam, someone like Tutya Yilmaz, who missed out on the final by less than a tenth, would easily make the final and probably even challenge for a medal, just as Dipa and a few others were able to do on vault this summer.

Theoretically, if a gymnast competing as a specialist in 2020 ended up having the best all-around score in qualifications, would they go into the all-around final over gymnasts from the team, or is the all-around final only for gymnasts on the team?

I’ve said this a lot already, and this is the reason why I made my 2020 rules post. I don’t mean to sound like a grumpus but it’s tiring saying the same thing over and over again when the info is already out there. So read the 2020 post, but to reiterate, the only difference between gymnasts from the same country is that four will compete in the team final and two won’t. Otherwise, they are all representing the same country and so the same rules regarding individual final qualifications apply. It doesn’t matter if a gymnast is a team or a non-team gymnast. The top two all-arounders from that country will make the all-around final either way.

Who were your favorite gymnasts to watch in Rio?

Nina Derwael was probably my absolute favorite because I love her style in everything she does, and I felt after a rough start to her senior career with her injury and everything, this was the moment where she came out like “I’m amazing” especially in qualifications where she was just phenomenal. She’s gonna be huge this quad, just you wait.

I also loved seeing Houry Gebeshian having so much fun and hitting her new bars mount, Tutya Yilmaz doing one of her best complete performances ever while also having a blast, Aly Raisman winning an all-around medal and bursting into tears when she finished floor, Sanne Wevers winning beam (one of my biggest dreams for this meet, honestly), Flavia Saraiva in general, Sherine el Zeiny when she hit the best bars of her life, Courtney McGregor’s final pose on floor, everything good that happened for Dipa Karmakar, Wang Yan being like “I’m amazing” and literally killing it even if she didn’t get any actual bling for anything she did…these were probably my top favorites though everyone had at least one moment that made me like *squeeeee* because after following a million meets this quad and getting to know the work of all of the competitors fairly well, it was so fun to watch it all come together. This was the first quad that I paid crazy close attention to literally everyone from the bottom of the pack to the top of the charts, and so I came in with way too many allegiances to literally everyone and pretty much every single person made me excited and happy and in awe.

Can Annie Beard make elite?

Yeah, I think so. She’s super talented and still very young, so she has a lot of time to build on her skill level. Plus, she’s part of one of the biggest elite parades in the country and has fab coaches and teammates who can help her get to that next level, so I’m pretty sure it can totally happen.

Is there a chance the E cap on dance skills could be lifted if a gymnast performed a really exceptional skill? Are new dance skills submitted the same way acro skills are?

Nope, the limit is a limit for a reason. Even if a gymnast shows up at worlds and busts out a quadruple Y spin on beam, E is the max and there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. That’s too bad, honestly, but the FIG seems to think that really difficult dance skills will mean no one will do flips anymore or something, who knows?! And yes, dance and acro skills are submitted in the same way. As a side note, now there is actually a limit in the code of points on how many rotations each turn can have on floor, so even if a gymnast submitted a super amazing octuple Y turn, it would only be considered a quad because the FIG is so over turns apparently.

Why is the double pike dismount so popular on beam? It’s like a built-in deduction with the low chest position. Wouldn’t they be better off doing a D dismount, losing a tenth in difficulty but avoiding 0.3 off for chest position?

I always wonder the same thing myself…and I wonder the same thing whenever I see someone with an E dismount getting slammed with deductions when they could do a perfectly fine D dismount, lose the tenth in difficulty, but more than make up for it by hitting it cleanly. It’s kinda like Rebecca Bross when she had her Patterson dismount and fell 90% of the time…she gained a couple tenths in difficulty over a D or E dismount, but lost a point because she consistently fell. When I asked her about that, she said it was her own stubbornness, wanting to prove to herself that the dismount wasn’t too hard for her…I guess she kinda knew at some point she wasn’t making the team and so that became her battle. In some instances, I understand that, wanting to challenge yourself, especially if you’ve been doing it well in training…but with the double pike and the practically built-in chest deductions, I really don’t get it, especially when it’s been such a dangerous dismount this year resulting in a few scary falls in addition to the chest position deductions. I know Carlotta Ferlito really wanted the double pike because she tried twisting dismounts but always got penalized for her leg form, and she wanted that extra tenth for the pike rather than the tuck. From what I heard, she actually feared doing the double pike, and so when she fell at Jesolo and looked like she broke her neck, I thought that was the end of that…and yet she kept going with it. At some points, it’s like…it’s just a tenth!!! Work on cleaning up connections or fixing your form somewhere to add that tenth back and just be basic with a double tuck so you don’t literally die in addition to losing tenths for form.

Why are dismounts easier to do off bars than on floor, like a double layout or a triple back?

On bars, gymnasts are pinging off of an apparatus that is eight feet off the ground, and they get an additional several feet above that when they release up off the bar and fly up into the air, giving them more than enough time to fully rotate flips around. On floor, they’re at a disadvantage because they start out on the ground and their only way to get into the air is the rebound out of their back handspring. Some gymnasts have the power and skill to get around 12 or so feet off the ground, which can help them fully rotate their five-foot bodies twice through the air in a layout position (or three times in a tucked position) before landing safely, but for many it’s difficult to reach that level of height coming off of the ground and not from a raised apparatus like the high bar.

With the new code, what would happen with a country that doesn’t qualify a full team to the Olympics? Does it get two specialist spots plus one for the team?

No. No one gets automatic spots for not qualifying a full team. A country that doesn’t qualify a full team has to qualify individuals in other ways, like through the all-around or through a specific event. Read my post about the rules for 2020 for more information on how non-teams qualify. Oh, look what link is back?! It might be the link to the 2020 post I made! Bookmark it. Reference it. Love 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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2 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

    • If she upgrades her second vault, yes. Since the Khorkina vault is so rare, I always assumed she’d eventually turn it from a tuck to a layout so it becomes a Cheng, but that didn’t happen this quad…if that’s the goal, it’ll put her in the exclusive Biles-Skinner-Paseka-Hong club of gymnasts who have that exact mix of Amanar and Cheng that has kept them consistently at the top of the vault food chain this past quad. It’s doable, but not if she only has the Khorkina as her second vault, at least not at worlds/the Olympics.

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