You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 129th 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.

Does the new code encourage more variety in skills low down on the beam or are we going to be stuck with beam hugs and wolf turns again this quad?

Nope, nothing really encouraging low beam choreo…mostly because the language is still vague. I think it says something about ‘creative’ or ‘artistic’ choreo low to the beam or blah, blah, blah, but since it’s choreo and not a specific ‘skill’ it doesn’t require anything more than just something done low to the beam. I don’t know how they’d encourage more variety unless they were like ‘gymnasts must spend fifteen seconds in constant motion along the entire length of the beam’ but even that would lead to gymnasts just like, crawling from one end to the other like in a Whitesnake video. Basically I feel like no matter what language the code uses, the majority of gymnasts and coaches and choreographers will interpret it horrendously and we’ll always get stuck with trends that exist to help them cheat the system.

What do you think will happen to Romania next quad? Will their new juniors reach their potential?

Well, the juniors have a better chance of that because they’ll be working with Forminte at Deva where they’ve been the past few years instead of getting shuffled off to a new program to transition to the senior level, which didn’t work for any of the new seniors last quad. They need consistency right now and so staying at Deva is the best possible thing for them and hopefully the ones that show the most promise (Olivia Cimpian, Ioana Crisan, Denisa Golgota, and a few others) will be able to continue growing, adding skills, etc. Will they reach their potential? I can’t predict the future. Will this be a better setting for them to work on reaching it? Yes, absolutely. I think not qualifying a full team this year was a fluke because they had too many girls out with injuries when they needed to qualify at the test event, and don’t think that will continue to be the norm if everyone’s healthy. But I think they saw how important it is to have a deep roster, and why it’s crucial to build up the second and third-string gymnasts as much as it is to build up the top girls. Because if two or three top girls get injured, you go from an A team to an F team instead of an A team to a B team. That’s what their focus needs to be this quad…keeping the A team healthy, and keeping a solid B team ready in case the A team isn’t healthy.

How do sports psychologists work with athletes? I see them invoked a lot when gymnasts are super nervy and inconsistent, but how do they actually fix that?

I’m not a sports psychologist and have never worked with one so I’m not the best person to answer this question, but generally they exist to help athletes improve their mood, reduce anxiety, decrease tension, and enhance focus so they can be at a competitive edge. A super talented athlete who is struggling mentally — sometimes in ways that have nothing to do with the sport itself — won’t be as competitive, and so the main reason a gymnast will see a sports psychologist is to work on mental/emotional skill areas and managing any issues to help them achieve goals. Every psychologist is different, I’m sure, and every athlete is different, so the techniques used probably vary greatly based on the doctor and the athlete. A kid who is nervous and inconsistent might just have more generalized anxiety, not just anxiety about competing, and so it’s all about getting to the root of that issue and figuring out why it’s a problem so they can overcome it.

What are the biggest deductions on bars?

A messy body line is a big one…bent knees, flexed feet, piked hips, leg separations, anything like these issues that take the body from perfectly straight and extended into looking crunched or sloppy. Some gymnasts only get a couple of tenths for this, but judges can take up to half a point off for bent knees and up to three tenths off for leg separations. The other big deduction is half a point off for an empty swing, and then there are obvious big landing deductions for the dismount as well…a squatted dismount gets a half point off, and then big steps and balance issues can get three tenths apiece.

Handstands also take a huge chunk of deductions…if gymnasts are greater than 45 degrees short when casting to handstand, they get three-tenth deductions for each one, which can add up. Bails, circling elements like toe-ons and stalders, and pirouettes that are between 30-45 degrees short get three tenths off, and greater than 45 degrees short get a half point off.

Other deductions that get about a tenth to three tenths on average include lack of height on releases, bent elbows when catching releases, catching releases too close or too far away, lack of exactness in a specific body position (tucking during a piked Jaeger, piking down a layout Gienger, etc), being too close to the apparatus in the dismount, and smaller landing faults like tiny steps or hops or a slight lack of balance.

Where do you watch NCAA? Is it online? What is the best way to follow everything?

We have a master schedule available with a full schedule for the year, and we update it and repost the upcoming week’s schedule with a preview each week along with links to all competitions held over the weekend. The best way to follow everything is to pay attention to the schedule, watch what you can, and check our live blog to see what you’ve missed — we try to watch everything possible and keep a live blog going throughout. It’s more conversational than just straight up quick hits, but you’ll have a general idea as to what’s going on. We’ll also have a weekly recap of the big meets with who won and all that good stuff.

Do you know which big international stars are returning next year? What about Giulia Steingruber, Aliya Mustafina, Viktoria Komova, Larisa Iordache, etc? Who has retired?

All four of these are hoping to come back, though Aliya Mustafina just got married and said she’s definitely taking a two-year break, so don’t expect her until 2019 at the earliest. Giulia, Viktoria, and Larisa are all working through injuries but plan on training for the upcoming season.

As for those who have retired, here’s a list of some of the more prominent gymnasts who competed this quad and who have finished up their careers either after Rio or shortly before it (bold means they competed in Rio):

  • Alyssa Baumann (United States) – NCAA (Florida)
  • Kirsten Beckett (South Africa)
  • Clara Beugnon (France)
  • Marine Brevet (France)
  • Julie Croket (Belgium)
  • Youna Dufournet (France)
  • Brenna Dowell (United States) – NCAA (Oklahoma)
  • Houry Gebeshian (Armenia)
  • Rachel Gowey (United States) – NCAA (Florida)
  • Ruby Harrold (Great Britain) – NCAA (LSU)
  • Nicole Hitz (Switzerland)
  • Amelia Hundley (United States) – NCAA (Florida)
  • Kim Janas (Germany)
  • Madison Kocian (United States) – NCAA (UCLA) though she has said she hopes to continue on to 2020 in elite so she hasn’t officially ‘retired’ but is on pause right now
  • Lauren Mitchell (Australia)
  • Gaelle Mys (Belgium)
  • Maggie Nichols (United States) – NCAA (Oklahoma)
  • Marta Pihan-Kulesza (Poland) – she’s pregnant!
  • Valentine Pikul (France)
  • MyKayla Skinner (United States) – NCAA (Utah) though I have a sneaking suspicion she’ll be back in 2017 for worlds since she’s basically the only vaulter in the country right now
  • Lisa Top (Netherlands)
  • Marcela Torres (Sweden)
  • Noel van Klaveren (Netherlands)
  • Millie Williamson (New Zealand)
  • Aleeza Yu (Canada) – NCAA (Stanford)

What do you think of Maria Paseka? Do you think she’ll learn new vaults as she works towards Tokyo since Olympic gold is the only medal missing from her collection? Will we see her at worlds before then?

Right now she’s dealing with a back injury, and I believe she’s working with doctors to plan a recovery without the use of surgery. She told R Sport that if this doesn’t work, she’s going to get the operation, but she’ll also retire because the surgery will make it too difficult for her to continue in the sport. She wants to reach Tokyo but if she can’t heal her back, she doesn’t want to push it.

“If I have the surgery and continue to train, I will continue getting injured because the surgery will make me less mobile which can destroy the vertebrae. I really don’t want the surgery. I want to recover, and if I succeed, I’ll continue to train, enduring the pain and going through it all over again. If I have the strength, I’ll go to Tokyo.”

She’s not yet ready to think about her comeback, though. She hasn’t trained since the Olympics, and is just taking things one day at a time right now. When she’s in good shape, she’ll start training again. She hasn’t said anything about upgrades and I mean, realistically, where is there to go from an Amanar and a Cheng? She definitely won’t do the triple and no woman has done the next step up from a Cheng, and besides, neither of these vaults have ever been perfect for hre. Her best bet after getting healthy is working on her form for both of these. If she increases her execution scores, her current level of difficulty is more than enough to take the gold.

Why do you think Aly Raisman took the gainer layout out of her beam routine during her comeback?

She played around a lot with various skills and it likely just didn’t fit the composition of her new routine.

How does a gymnast know which finals she’s made it into at the Olympics? When they compete in the first subdivision, do they hang around all day and find out at the end of the day? Or are the final standings released to the national delegations?

They don’t have to hang out at the arena all day. They go back to the athlete’s apartments and basically get to freak out all day waiting. Some watch parts of the competition online, others try to focus on other things, but their federation/coach will get notified of the official standings at the end of the day and the team finds out that way (though I know this summer quite a few had the online results pages open and were tracking their own standings that way).

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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17 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

    • Yeah, it’s very specific to them…with Simone, she almost came out of nowhere between 2012 and 2013, and people suddenly expected a lot from her after not really knowing who she was. I’m sure pressure was a huge issue for her, and it was good of them to take care of that quickly…wasn’t it in 2013 that she went?

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  1. If Simone does comeback (and successfully) i think she’ll be in a much better place psychologically because she’ll have had the time to reflect and begin to grasp the ramifications of her success and understand just how talented she is.

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