You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 131st 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 are all of the different D scores so low in the new code of points?

The new code of points takes off half a point from bars, beam, and floor now that the D+ dismount requirement is gone, so all routines on those events will be a half point lower than they were this quad. In order to keep the vault scores consistent with the scores on the other events, they decreased the start values by about five tenths each.

Is it true that successful Chinese gymnasts receive high-paying jobs because of their athletic accomplishments?

Some go on to have high-profile jobs, but most go to universities after retiring and probably thanks to their status and the people they know, they’re able to easily get good jobs out of college. So they don’t necessarily get to be a TV host because they won a gold medal…they get to be a TV host because they won a gold medal and got name recognition and popularity and went to school to study communications and met someone who put them on a path to that career. So indirectly, the answer to this is yes, but really it’s about more than just what they accomplished as athletes. At least that’s the sense I have in general, but I only know a few of the stories. Some just end up coaching and doing other ‘normal people’ jobs but there are definitely others who get more high-profile gigs.

Are you doing fantasy gym this year? What is your team? Can you talk about them?

No, I don’t play fantasy gym. I’m too busy! I tried one year but couldn’t keep up with it and never submitted my lineup on time so I just kind of dropped it. 

I’ve wondered why judges are allowed to watch warmups and to mentally prepare for what they will see and get to know what the gymnasts will do ahead of time. Wouldn’t they mark down what the gymnast plans to compete and then mark it wrong if the gymnast makes a mistake?

Basically the judges have seen most of the gymnast so many times before they actually compete at worlds or the Olympics, watching warmups really doesn’t matter. Especially for the more high-profile gymnasts, they know the bulk of the routines coming in whether from judging them in the past or watching videos (some judges I know are the sport’s biggest fans!) or from coaching at meets where the gymnasts are competing. They can only judge the routines they see in the competition, and generally, faults that happen in warmups don’t affect how they score the routine. They can’t write down “oh, she did Tkachev and a Jaeger in training but only did a Tkachev in the competition!” and then like, take off the tenths for not doing the Jaeger. That’s not how the D panel works. The D panel can only build on what they see in the routine presented, and a gymnast can do an entirely different routine between qualifications and finals if she wants…the judges would be a little surprised but they’d still have to judge what’s physically there when they’re judging, not on what they ‘expect’ to be there.

That said, some judges get to know various faults that gymnasts have…I think Aimee Boorman said once that Simone Biles will literally always be docked a tenth for crossing her feet on vault because the judges and everyone who watches her regularly knows she does that. Her vault could be literally perfect in every other way, but she’ll probably only get a 9.9 max because the judges almost automatically mentally know to take off for the crossed feet. On the other hand, gymnasts that the judges see regularly may end up getting the benefit of the doubt on some faults. If a gymnast is usually right on top of the bar in her giant skills but then in one routine ends up being super late on a pirouette, some judges who don’t quite catch that in the split second that it happens may give her the benefit of the doubt and assume it was perfect because usually, it is, and maybe they blinked or something at that moment.

Could someone dismount the beam with a turn or a dance element?

No. All skill groups are separate. To be counted as an acro skill, for example, the skill must be in the acro group. To count as a mount, the skill must be in the mount group. To count as a dismount…you guessed it. The skill must be in the dismount group. No dance skills are in the dismount group, and my guess is that if someone submitted one to be included, it wouldn’t be accepted because the difficulty value would be far too easy. A turn or a leap off the beam is much easier than the lowest-valued beam dismount that currently exists.

Do you know why a few underclassmen from UCLA’s 2015-2016 roster are no longer on the roster for this season?

Often on teams with lots of walk-ons, you’ll see gymnasts stay for only a season or two before moving on. If they’re not contributing regularly (or at all), they kind of just don’t end up wanting to train for it anymore and they’re also getting busy with other things, so gym gets dropped. At UCLA this has been fairly common in the past, and I’ve seen it with a lot of Florida walk-ons as well. Some walk-ons really love working with the team and stay involved no matter how much or little they compete, but others find other interests and lose the desire to train when they know they won’t get to compete anything.

Could someone who has one of the individual spots in 2020 serve as an alternate for the team?

Yes, and I think we’ll actually see this for most teams, which is why I think the U.S. and other major teams will attempt to earn all-around spots at the world cups or continental meets rather than earning event specialist spots through the apparatus world cups. They’ll essentially have their four best all-arounders on the actual team, and then can take their fifth best as one individual all-arounder with good EF potential (a MyKayla Skinner, for example) to be a built-in team alternate, and the final spot can go to someone who’s more of a legit specialist, or a lower-level all-arounder but a strong shot at an event medal.

Can you explain how compulsories used to work in terms of who choreographed everything? How did they go around to all of the competing countries to get them to follow a certain routine?

I’m not actually a hundred percent sure, but what I think I remember someone explaining at some point in the recent past was that the FIG would have sessions for each federation and a representative would show up and basically learn everything and then bring it back home? It would’ve been hilarious if they got everything wrong or if they were a next-level troll and purposely taught the team some wild routine that was nowhere close and the team shows up at worlds and everyone’s like ummmm WHAT. But yeah, that’s pretty much how it happened…actually I think I remember seeing a picture on Facebook from one of these events where it was like, eighty people in a conference center all learning choreography for a compulsory routine in the 80s. I wish I could remember who posted this because I’d ask!

What is the difference between an empty swing and an intermediate swing?

An empty swing, how do I describe this…it’s pointless? It’s not necessary? It’s like, if a gymnast does a Tkachev, catches, then does a kip cast handstand, and then kip casts again, and then does a bail, the second kip cast handstand would be an empty swing because the skill before it was also a kip cast, which is kind of the breather skill between the Tkachev and the bail, so a second breather skill would be empty, if that makes sense. So you could very well catch a Tkachev, then kip cast to handstand, and then swing down and do a bail, but putting a second kip cast handstand between the first and the bail would be empty because the routine is supposed to have a flow to it, and seeing someone winding up with a bunch of kip casts before doing another skill would be like watching someone take a 30 second pause before tumbling on floor. The FIRST kip cast handstand in that segment would be an intermediate swing, because it kind of links the Tkachev and the bail together. Gymnasts don’t have to go crazy connecting every skill and never kipping for that little breath between because they’d probably die, but on the other side of things, extra kips that don’t link skills and keep the routine flowing are trash and we don’t want them, so they get a five tenth deduction.

What is the difference between a leap and a jump? I’m trying to recognize lots of skills and their subtle differences, but just realized that there’s apparently a difference between a split leap and a split jump and I have no idea what that entails. My best guess is that you run into one and the other is stationary?

Basically, yes! I believe the technical criteria is that a jump takes off and lands on two feet whereas a leap takes off from one foot. Because jumps tend to just go straight up and down, you’re right, they’re stationary and so in a split jump on beam, you’ll just see the gymnast jump from two feet up into a split and then land in the same way she began. But in a split leap on beam, you’ll see a little run into it to give it the momentum, and then it takes off from one foot, travels forward a little in the split position, and lands a little further down from where it started. Hopefully that makes sense! You can just consider jumps non-traveling while leaps are traveling, and you’ll definitely be able to spot the difference if you watch beam from now on. Check out some Italian beam routines because they like to put both the jump and leap versions of skills into routines…like, if someone does a ring jump, she’ll probably also have a ring leap somewhere in there (pretty sure Vanessa Ferrari does this).

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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3 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. A jump can technically be from one foot, like the one foot wolf jump, or a ‘cabriole’ where you jump from one leg, beat ur ankles together, and then land on the same leg. The main thing is just that a ‘leap’ is always from one foot.

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  2. I think for the compulsory routines, there is usually a very detailed description and a video for it. The representatives of the federations then meet up to learn the routine, but essentially to clarify anything that wasn’t clear in the description or the video?

    This is the way it used to be with german compulsory routines, I think.

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