You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 139th 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.

What’s your opinion on the 2000 Chinese team being stripped of their medals? In other sports when a single team member is disqualified, the other members don’t lose their medals.

Actually it’s funny that this should come up now with the news that Usain Bolt is being stripped of one of his gold medals because of one of his teammates in the 4 x 100 relay has been found guilty of doping. I don’t know how the rules vary from sport to sport, but it looks like it’s not just gymnastics that has this problem. Either way, my opinion is that only the individual should be punished, not the whole team. It’s like when you’re doing a group project at school and everyone else is trash and you work really hard, but it doesn’t come together fully and you get a C when you personally deserve an A and everyone else in your group deserves an F. But I think with the FIG, they want to punish the federations, not the individuals, because usually it’s the federation responsible for everything. Like, Dong Fangxiao didn’t lie about her age to the Chinese gymnastics federation. The Chinese federation knew her age and doctored her paperwork to get her onto that team. Because it’s the federation’s fault, they punish the federation by saying your country’s bronze is no longer valid and stripping the COUNTRY of the team medal. Unfortunately, that directly affects the gymnasts who did nothing wrong, so it’s a sucky way to do things. I personally would strip the medal from the individual who was found to be guilty of something (even if it wasn’t her decision to do something against the rules), and then punish the federation by not letting them compete for a full quad, but I’d let the athletes who had nothing to do with any of it keep their medals.

What is Rebecca Bross doing now?

She is coaching. She started out coaching L4 gymnasts at WOGA, but then got a job at Iarov Elite in Dallas, where she is the head coach of the girls’ compulsory program.

Is there a deduction for arching when you come down from a cast handstand on an inbar skill?

I don’t think so…any swing coming down from a handstand arches a little. It’s part of a giant swing. From a handstand, a gymnast swings down, arches through the tap, and then hollows to go back up again. So whether they’re swinging down from an inbar to handstand or anything else to handstand, an arch into the tap is not only okay, but also necessary for the tap to work!

Was attendance low at some of the gymnastics events in Rio?

Yes. It was kinda shocking looking at the stands and seeing so many empty seats. I had friends who went to Brazil and were able to walk up to various ticket vendors right before different events and get tickets easily, including for gymnastics. I don’t know why that is, aside from maybe the Rio Olympics had fewer out-of-town travelers because people feared zika so much? But yeah, I remember thinking about trying to get tickets for London and the whole process was so annoying, whereas for Rio you could just show up the day of and easily get into major events.

Five Brazilian coaches who worked with Alexander Alexandrov moved to the U.S. and Canada to work as coaches in private gyms. Did you know anything about this?

I don’t know anything about it really. I knew Alexandrov moved to the U.S. but I hadn’t heard about him bringing other Brazilian coaches with him.

Which non-USA gymnasts from the 2013-2016 quad do you think would make awesome NCAA gymnasts?

Ellie Downie, Lisa Ecker, Tutya Yilmaz, Kirsten Beckett, Laura Jurca, Filipa Martins, Alexa Moreno, Mai Murakami, Erika Fasana, Luca Diveky, Sofi Gomez, Pauline Tratz (coincidentally she’ll be at UCLA so hooray!), Lorrane Oliveira, EMILY LITTLE (I’ve wanted her in NCAA since I saw her at Pac Rims in 2012). These are some of my faves who I think would translate very well from elite to collegiate gym.

What’s holding the U.S. men back from being more competitive internationally?

Lots of things. Consistency is obviously one of the direct reasons. How many team medals have strong teams lost after hitting well in qualifications but then getting stuck mentally in finals? Weaker depth is a wider and more foundational problem. Like Russia and Romania on the WAG side, the U.S. MAG program has a few top guys but beyond that, they struggle with depth so if one of those guys isn’t available for whatever reason, there aren’t as many options to put in their place. Why do they lack depth when the women have it in droves? The women have about 730 full DI athletic scholarships available in a given year (12 per team with 61 DI teams in play), compared to the men, who have fewer than 100 scholarships available for collegiate gymnastics. Since it’s easier for young male athletes to get scholarships in other sports, boys in gymnastics who realize they won’t be likely to get gymnastics scholarships will drop the sport and move onto something else, especially since once they reach high school, gymnastics has a stigma for boys which is silly but true. Fewer teenage gymnasts in the sport means a smaller pool at the top. There are other reasons, especially since the women’s program has become so dominant and is clearly the number one priority for USA Gym’s focus and resources (obviously when a program has success, it’s going to keep getting bigger whereas struggling programs are going to stay stagnant), but depth is the key issue.

Who are the new Canadian seniors this year? How do they fit in with the team?

The only new Canadian senior who could have big impact right now is Jade Chrobok, who was a top junior for two years and just won the senior Elite Canada all-around title. She’s a bit watered down at the moment due to injuries that limited her last year, but the up-and-comers this quad are more about last year’s young seniors like Rose Woo, Shallon Olsen, and Megan Roberts stepping up into bigger roles now that they’ve had more experience.

Haley de Jong, Brooklyn Moors, Megan Phillips, and Sophie Marois are probably the other top new seniors. Mostly with them, their difficulty is just too low for them to challenge, so even clean routines won’t score super well (like Sophie is lovely on bars but only does basics). I think Brooklyn shows tons of promise and she’s insanely beautiful and elegant to watch…but she just has to get a better head for competition. I don’t think she’ll be a contender for a worlds spot or anything, at least not this year, but her beam and floor especially are awesome when she hits.

Have there been any openly LGBT gymnasts in elite or NCAA?

Yeah, a few. Not many who have been publicly out, especially because I’m sure there are more that keep their personal lives private (some NCAA programs have policies that don’t allow gymnasts to post about relationships or their personal lives on social media), but I’ve known of a few open MAG and WAG gymnasts over the years, and right now, I know of one NCAA WAG competitor who is out, at least to her friends and teammates if not publicly.

Do you think Roza Gaileva was underscored on floor in the Atlanta all-around? Her score is lowest of the top ten apart from those who had big mistakes. Was her difficulty lower?

Hmm, I’ve never thought about it, but I’m going back to watch her routine now…her form was rough with low landings on both her first and last passes, so even without knowing the code of points for that era, it’s clear she should’ve been deducted on both and her score of 9.637 in comparison to the 9.7s and 9.8s from the others looks accurate? I just went back to look at Simona Amanar for reference, because she scored a tenth higher…I had forgotten she did The Nutcracker and now I’m dying, WHY. But overall her form and landings were much stronger and she had a 9.737 which seems about right. And the highest of course was Lilia Podkopayeva about two tenths higher than Galieva with a 9.887 for a brilliant routine. Ranking these three, I see no problem with Galieva being at the lower end of the top competitors.

What happens if the gymnast doesn’t salute the judges when she finishes her routine?

She gets a penalty…the failure to acknowledge the judges before and/or after the exercise results in a three-tenth penalty from the final score (meaning it would go in the ND or neutral deduction column rather than be taken from the E score).

Why do you think Nastia Liukin beat Shawn Johnson in the Olympic all-around?

I haven’t watched the final since it happened but I remember sitting there at like 2 am or whatever time it was on live and thinking after vault that Nastia was 100% going to win it. You could just tell she was there to have her best day ever right when it counted. Shawn was great and had only a few minor errors, but starting out with her NCAA perfect 10 vault, Nastia was like this is my day. Again, Shawn had a great performance, doing exactly what everyone was expecting her to do, but Nastia came in at a whole other level. It was gonna be close either way and it was always between them and as we saw with their scores at both nationals and trials, it could’ve gone either way, but Shawn had been the one soooo hyped up by the media as America’s darling, that’s why it was more shocking that Nastia ended up winning. The media basically called Shawn their perfect all-around champion queen all summer so obviously you go in assuming that it’s not even gonna be a fight between them, but in reality it was much closer than the media made people think.

Do you know if Irina Alexeeva will eventually compete for the U.S.?

That’s the goal, but she needs to get her citizenship. I’m sure if she becomes someone who absolutely can’t be left off of a major international team, we’ll see that process fast-tracked.

What was the ‘team portable’ event in early Olympic competitions?

It was kind of like a dance performance with all competitors performing a single routine together. Whereas the main team final event was one at a time going up on each event and counting that score into the team total, the team portable apparatus was like a group dance with an apparatus (ribbons, balls, clubs, hoops, and ropes I believe). It was only contested at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, and you can watch the competition in Helsinki here…

The team portable competition was actually one of the most popular events at the 1956 Olympic Games, because people loved the uniform choreographed dance, music, and costumes involved. But by the next major international competition — worlds in 1958 — the portable apparatus was no longer an event, and the FIG began to recognize it as its own discipline, first as modern gymnastics, then rhythmic sportive gymnastics, and finally, rhythmic gymnastics, with the first worlds for rhythmic held in 1963.

What makes the Mustafina dismount on bars so difficult or unusual?

Mostly the blind landing. Adding the extra half twist into a full-in isn’t so difficult in its own right, but the fact that the extra half twist turns the skill into one with a blind landing, it makes it far more difficult for gymnasts to have a solid landing, which is why when upgrading a full-twisting double back, they’d prefer to add a full twist and make it a double double, so they can spot the landing and eliminate any potential landing deductions. It’s similar to the Biles on floor…Simone Biles is the only one who performs a double layout half-out, and yet a full-twisting double layout on floor is quite popular. Even though it has an extra half twist, the half-out has a blind landing but the full allows for spotting and therefore a cleaner finish.

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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30 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Ellie Downie already went pro (she’s sponsored by Nike). Tutya Yilmaz has definitely been in adverts although I don’t know if she’s received payment. And Kirsten Beckett doesn’t train gymnastics any more, she’s a pole vaulter.

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    • Yeah, I know…I was answering a question about those who I thought would make great NCAA gymnasts, not suggesting they were going to do it. The likelihood of any of these doing NCAA is literally zero percent lol, with the exception of Tratz. Most of the others are ineligible (Downie, Ecker, Yilmaz, Jurca, Martins, Moreno, Murakami, Fasana, Oliviera, Little) or have retired (Beckett, Gomez). And it’s highly doubtful Diveky would because she’s 22.

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      • Hopefully more girls, British or not, will follow Ruby Harrold’s example because she’s doing quite well and I think it’s a great idea. Why not get a free college education for something you’re already great at? Even more olympians, like Charlotte Sullivan, Isabella Amado, and Courtney Mcgregor.

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        • In some countries/professions a US college degree won’t be accepted and they’d have to re-do a degree in their own country anyway. That may stop some gymnasts from going the NCAA route.

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        • Great Britain is likely to see more athletes following g that pathway as university fees get higher, something which is already happening in the UK but not in the rest of Europe yet… Hopefully Nush, and Ruby (and a small number of others) are the first of many.

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        • Lots of non-big elites are starting to do NCAA. I think elites tend to go for the money, especially if they want to keep training in the elite system beyond college age. But I’ve seen quite a few national-level competitors (like, England squad girls) coming into NCAA programs. They end up at smaller programs but it’s still a great experience. Rutgers currently has two low-key British gymnasts, Polina Poliakova (she was on the England squad) and Erin McLachlan (on the Scotland squad and competed at 2014 Commonwealth Games representing Scotland).

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    • Yeah, it was a great routine! I forgive the music hahaha. So much music back then was horrible, like, they tried to do classical but modern jazzy versions?! LAWD. But she was fabulous and it was definitely a stronger routine than Galieva’s.

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  2. They didn’t really strip the 2000 Chinese team of their medals. They removed Dong’s results and thereby her contribution to the final team score because she was retroactively disqualified. Without her scores they lost the bronze.

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  3. Is there another ceremony for people who receive medals after a team/person is disqualified? That’s at least one team denied an Olympic podium moment. Seems a let down to just receive the medal in the post or whatever.

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    • In 2010 at US nationals in Hartford they did a ceremony to give the bronze medals to the 2000 team. All of the girls came in for the ceremony and the press conference but most were like um it’s been ten years, we’re over it, it’s a nice gesture but this feels weird, all of this is behind us. And at the press conference there was a whole Jamie Dantzscher tyrade about how awful their whole experience was and everyone was like *silently nods* so yeah, it was one of the most awkward things ever, hahaha. They actually may have been better off getting them in the mail!

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  4. It is pretty funny going back and looking at the NBC broadcasts from 2007 and 2008 where they were all hyping Shawn and acting like Nastia was over.

    Wonder if that was awkward when she started working with Tim and Al 😀

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    • YUP hahaha. I remember we started getting taxi TVs in about 2008 and I didn’t have cable so really the only TV I ever saw was NBC in cabs…and Shawn was on EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY. Whenever I got into a cab, bam, Shawn Johnson. If I wasn’t a gym fan, I wouldn’t have known who Nastia was going into Beijing. I’d be like QUEEN OF THE WORLD SHAWN JOHNSON and some blonde chick who has done nothing with her life, she’ll probably place last!

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  5. I’m conflicted, but I have a slightly different opinion as to whether it’s unfair to strip a team of their medals for one person’s (or in this case, the federation officials’) wrongdoing. I agree with you, Lauren, that it’s a terrible and unearned fate for the other gymnasts on that team. On the other hand, it’s REALLY not fair to the countries who finished below them, since in the end they were not a legitimate team. So although I really feel sympathy for the other Chinese gymnasts, my feeling is kind of, well, it’s a team event, so the team (and not the particular individuals on it) is the entity in question. In any sport, certain individuals can do a fabulous job, but the team sinks or swims together.

    Also, as Erik above noted, Dong’s scores were actually wiped from the competition, which would have pretty much guaranteed them falling to last place. The news stories I read weren’t really clear as to whether the medal was stripped BECAUSE her scores were erased, or the medal was stripped AND ALSO her scores were erased, but either way the result is the same. As much as it sucks for her teammates, her scores *had* to be wiped; she wasn’t eligible to compete. So I don’t feel like FIG would have had any other option but to take away their medal based on the resulting score alone.

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    • I came down to the comments wondering about this. Stripping just her scores from the team seems at least semi-reasonable, and since it was 6-5-4 I certainly don’t think they would have been last, but I can’t find the numbers right off.

      Also now I want to track down a transcript from that Hartford press conference.

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    • Also, regarding the solution of a ban, is it really less unfair not to allow a group of completely unrelated athletes to compete for four years and, in a country that has an established program, probably miss their only chance at high-level international competition? Ultimately, in any situation like this where the federation has done wrong and so is the entity which has to be punished, innocent athletes are going to get screwed.

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  6. Eek, and another comment! Related to the Nastia/Shawn question… I might be misremembering some details, but I think during the year leading up to the Olympics, Shawn consistently beat Nastia, but mostly because Nastia usually had a major error/fall (or many of them!) in there somewhere. I seem to remember someone pointing out that if Nastia were to actually hit her routines, her scores could have surpassed Shawn’s or at least come very close. So it’s not too surprising that once she finally hit all four beautifully, she won.

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  7. Pingback: You Asked, The Gymternet Answered – Natasha Konwitschny

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