You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 140th 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.

Do you think Norah Flatley finally has a chance to be successful after her injuries?

I hope so! The post-Olympic year is a good year to get back into things. New seniors sometimes need an adjustment year, so a gymnast’s second year as a senior is sometimes a better year, especially when some of the bigger names that overshadowed them the previous year are taking time off or have moved on to college. She can come back in a lower-pressure environment, get a little more competitive experience, and hopefully make a run for the worlds team, especially if her bars and beam are looking good. I could see her being this year what Ivana Hong was in 2009 in a way? Hoping she can stay healthy and earn a spot!

There was a good deal of hype about Sage Thompson a few years back but I haven’t been able to find out much about her recently. Did she qualify for elite? Did she compete in 2016?

I know she was attempting to qualify elite back in 2014 and 2015, but her father sadly passed away around that time and she never got her junior elite qualification scores (though she did qualify to Hopes). Then she had a couple of injuries and was unable to compete for most of 2015 and all of 2016, but she has been training and looks good in training videos. She is planning on trying to qualify for junior elite, but she’s still having problems with her SI joint in her right hip which could prevent her from competing floor. She just competed at a compulsory qualifier in South Carolina, but fell slightly short of reaching the compulsory qualification score of 35, having scored a 34.750 in the all-around.

What are the deductions you can get on a pak salto?

Leg separation is the big one. The body shape is another…some do them straight and others do them with a slight arch, but if gymnasts are TOO arched making it look more like a sheep jump, then it’s a heavy deduction. The angle at which you catch would be taken into account, and there would also be a deduction for catching too close or with bent elbows…and then obviously if your feet hit the mat or if you fall. These are the biggest things to watch out for on a pak but there are other little things as well, like flexed feet in the air.

What are Ireland’s chances of fielding a full team in 2018?

It depends on who they have on their roster…if they still have girls like Ellis O’Reilly, Tara Donnelly, Nicole Mawhinney, and Denise Moloney competing, that’s four (I believe Tara is still planning on competing, but I’m not sure about the rest). They also have Casey Bell and new senior LiLing Martin, both of whom are really strong, so that could put them up to six which is more than enough to field a full team. If last quad’s top seniors aren’t around, it’s a little tighter, but they’ll still have some good new talent next year like Meg Ryan, Rebecca Geddis, and Aisling Fuller, and then some of last quad’s new seniors who didn’t quite get international spots but still have solid enough routines like Taylor Cole and Emer Shimizu…they could make a team of five happen pretty easily, even if it wouldn’t necessarily be a top competitive team.

Does each member of an NCAA team get their own team leos and warmups that they get to keep? What happens when new freshmen come in? Are there extras to account for incoming classes? Some gymnasts ‘retire’ a leo once they graduate – what does this mean?

They get a whole bunch of swag at the start of each year with warmups and other things like sneakers, tshirts, sweatshirts, socks, and so on…but for leos, coaches order a bunch of each size (usually adult small and medium) and they have enough for everyone on the team. I don’t believe most schools let them keep the leos but I’m not totally sure…maybe some do but I think most just keep one around for a few years and they kind of get passed down until they get ‘retired’ which basically just means nothing more than they don’t use that leo anymore.

Can you explain why NCAA gymnasts get 10s for routines that have obvious deductions?

Ranking. If they’re up last in a six-person lineup and the scores have been building, if they do a routine that’s better than the one before it but the one before it got a 9.95, they’re most likely going to get a 9.975 (aka a 10 from one judge and a 9.95 from the other) or a 10.

Judges tend to rank routines based on a standard set by the first routine. If someone does a routine with a few small mistakes and gets a 9.85 and then the routine level continues to build throughout the rotation, the last girl up is at an advantage because everyone before her has basically set her up for a 10 if she hits an almost perfect but not literally perfect routine. But if the judges give that first routine with a few small mistakes a 9.7, the routines might build up to a 9.875, and then the last girl with the almost perfect but not literally perfect routine might only get a 9.9.

Scores are never going to be LITERAL in subjective sports. A 9.7 one day could be a 9.85 the next for the same exact routine with the same exact mistakes, and so to combat these discrepancies, the judges rank routines relative to others in that rotation (and, in a perfect world, relative to others at the same meet, which generally happens but sometimes you see judges really tight in one rotation and then really loose the next, which is more annoying than giving out a 10 in my opinion). 

Mary Jane Horth of Illinois did a bar routine at Michigan early this season that was about as close to perfect as I could imagine, and she got a 9.85. That same bar routine at Florida or Oklahoma would’ve been a 9.95 easy. But relative to the other scores in her rotation that day, a 9.85 is what made sense. But then Michigan went up on bars and a good routine with a couple of big noticeable mistakes went 9.9, which made no sense in relation to Horth’s score…so when Michigan’s routines kept building, a routine that was about the same quality as Horth’s got a 9.975, which was like, are you kidding me? The judges had a completely different judging standard for two different rotations, but the scores made sense relative to other routines within their own rotations.

Anyway, that’s how judging in subjective sports works, and until humans can become machines, that’s how it’s always going to work.

Is ballet not a huge part of the Russian system anymore after being such a major part of the Soviet program, especially in 1986-1992? The Soviet gymnasts had amazing flexibility and extension and it’s sad we don’t see this anymore.

It’s still part of their training but clearly hasn’t been a priority, especially since the trend shifted toward difficulty. You do still see some great flexibility and extension from some of the Russians, especially those who have it come to them naturally and use ballet training to emphasize that, but for most it’s really not as much of a focus as working on other skills…and that’s not just Russia, it’s everyone!

Why didn’t Becky Downie make the 2012 Olympic team after competing at the 2008 Games and coming back to make the 2011 world team?

In 2012, GB really desperately needed beam workers. They had solid vaults, excellent bars, strong floor, but beam was kind of a mess. Going into nationals, Hannah Whelan, Rebecca Tunney, and Beth Tweddle were basically locks. With Tunney kinda shaky on beam and Tweddle not doing it at all, they needed both of the others coming in to have really clean and solid beam sets.

Becky missed pretty much all of 2012 leading up to the Olympic trials, and then at nationals, she showed that she had a solid enough DTY, but on bars, she was consistently behind Beth and Rebecca, and then also fell behind Hannah in finals, meaning there were already three gymnasts likely to go up ahead of her on the event in the team final. It would’ve been nice to have her bars as a fourth option, because especially if she hit in quals, they could’ve put her up over Hannah on bars in the team final, but bars wasn’t a necessity and it all came down to beam.

At nationals, Becky was sixth on beam in qualifications, and second on the event in finals. For those who weren’t locks, Jen Pinches proved most at nationals that she should be on the team, getting a 14.3 on beam both days, which led in qualifications and won finals, making her the best beam worker for GB going into London. They still had more trials coming up, but that kind of sealed the deal for her. So the final spot came down basically to Becky, her 2008 teammate Imogen Cairns, and Danusia Francis.

This is how I remember it, of course. I don’t know the official reason why GB left her off. I remember really pulling for Jen after nationals because her beam was truly fab there, and during the trials period before they announced, I felt the last spot would be between Imogen and Danusia. I don’t remember WHY I wasn’t so gung-ho for Becky, but I think it had to do with her not having a floor routine for them to use if needed, whereas Imogen and Jen were both great there, better than Hannah and Rebecca at times (and Jen ended up having GB’s top score in team finals on floor, over Beth and Hannah, though that day was also like her worst beam ever…cries forever).

Long story short, beam beam beam beam beam. They needed someone who could consistently hit beam. And that’s what they thought they got, even though it didn’t end up working out that way. #GBProblems

Why hasn’t anyone done an attitude or scorpion turn at worlds?

I’ve seen a few attitude turns…and scorpion turns just aren’t popular in general in gymnastics for some reason, though Laney Madsen does one (or has done one in the past), so maybe we’ll see it at worlds eventually? I personally love scorpion turns so bring them on. I can see how they’d be way too risky for most to attempt on beam but they might as well go for it on floor!

Can you break down the differences between Madison Kocian and Ashton Locklear’s D scores? The routines look similar and I was wondering which elements make one routine harder than the other.

They are pretty similar, and they’re also similar to a lot of the current Russian routines. Ashton’s is closer to the Russians because Madison changes things up with some of her straddled stalder work, but both routines followed the same pattern (lengthy transition series at the beginning, release, dismount), the beginnings of their routines were identical (inbar full to Komova II to pak), and they both did an inbar half to straddle Jaeger release and full-twisting double tuck dismounts. So the bulk were very similar but here are the full routines for both and I’ve highlighted the similarities…

Ashton Locklear- inbar full (E) to Komova II (E) to pak (D) to Maloney (D) to bail (D) to Ray (B), inbar half (D) to Jaeger (D), full-out (D)

Madison Kocian- inbar full (E) to Komova II (E) to pak (D) to Chow half (E), inbar half (D) to straddle Jaeger (D), stalder (B) to stalder full (D) to full-in (D)

Both counted six of the same skills, and for a seventh skill, both counted another upward transition (a Maloney for Ashton and a Chow half for Madison). So of the eight counting skills, seven were similar enough between the two. The only major difference is that Madison only went between the bars on three skills whereas Ashton opted to count a bail on top of her other seven skills, so she had to transition back down and back up again to go between the bars on five skills. For Madison’s final counting skill, she did a stalder full connected into her dismount.

So why was Madison’s higher? For counting skills, Ashton had six Ds and two Es for 3.4 whereas Madison had five Ds and three Es for 3.5, meaning from skills alone, Madison gets in at a tenth higher than Ashton.

Let’s look at connection value now. Ashton had four one-tenth connections (inbar full to Komova II, pak to Maloney, Maloney to bail, and inbar half to Jaeger) and one two-tenth connection (Komova II to pak) for a total of 0.6 in CV. Madison had three one-tenth connections (inbar full to Komova II, inbar half to Jaeger, stalder full to full-in) and two two-tenth connections (Komova II to pak, pak to Chow half) for a total of 0.7 in CV, again coming in a tenth higher than Ashton.

So that’s basically it. Both started from the 2.5 CR, but Madison added 3.5 from skills and 0.7 from CV whereas Ashton added 3.4 from skills and 0.6 from CV to put Madison at 6.7 and Ashton at 6.5.

What makes the front handspring double twisting vault so difficult?

Front handspring vaults are difficult because you get less power coming onto the table and the body shape of a front layout is hard to maintain in the air…and then anything without a half twist (or a one-and-a-half, and so on) is a blind landing in a front skill, so it’s difficult to master the air awareness for a skill like that. That’s why a Rudi is more popular than a handspring layout full…often gymnasts will upgrade from a barani to a Rudi skipping over the full because it’s easier to control a Rudi than a full due to the landing. So a double is not only more difficult due to a greater number of twists in that front layout body position, but it’s also more difficult because the landing is so hard to spot and hit correctly.

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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15 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. I was pretty sure I remembered seeing Sage’s name on a list of Elite Compulsory results from this season, so I checked and she barely missed the required Elite score with a 34.75 (just 0.25 under the required 35.00) at the Myrtle Beach qualifier.

    One the last page, here: http://gymnasticscup.com/myrtle-beach/blog/meet-scores/compulsory-elite-qualifier-2016/

    I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for her to be constantly dealing with injuries that are serious enough to keep her out of competing. (This is why I have to stop myself from being so excited about young Juniors/HOPES girls…there’s so much that can change in an instant to take them out of future contention)

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    • Thank you! I haven’t been paying attention to the compulsory qualifiers, only the optionals, so I should’ve checked those. Yeah, that’s gotta be rough for her…SO close, too!

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      • I was just curious once I saw USAG had posted the Brestyan’s Vegas results, but not links for any of the Compulsory only comps so I went to try to track down the results for the rest and managed to find them for everything but the CGA meet. I totally get not paying attention to them, though. There’s so many gymnasts and it’s easier to just wait to see who does Optionals successfully!

        Wonder if she’ll try again given that she’s like thisclose.

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        • Yeah, there’s a ton! Because of so many L10 and compulsory results I made a rule that I’ll only track meets with elite scoring outside of AA, especially since the compulsory scores make very little sense to people given that they’re not even really doing routines, just random skills and skill progressions. If I focused on L10 I might include compulsory scores since most of those who don’t make it will prob end up doing well in L10 anyway, but yeah, I had to draw the line somewhere!

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  2. Your description of the 2012 GB team selection is pretty much what I remember as well. Besides BB and FX, Jenni also had one of the best DTYs GB had at the time. I always wished Jenni could hit BB to her full potential at least one more time at UCLA before she retired..

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    • YES, that’s right, her DTY…definitely a big help as well. For some reason I remember Imogen being a huge get on vault and I think I assumed she had a DTY but then I went to look back last night and saw she only had I guess a 1.5? But was still a good get for them I guess. Going back and looking at it I’m like why wasn’t I so sure about Becky because with the DTY and a hit beam with her bars she should’ve been the clear choice but I just remember *knowing* it wasn’t gonna be her in any spot.

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

  4. There’s been a lot of talk about US men not being very strong, and not getting a lot of attention but I actually feel that in recent years they’ve done a better job with consistency and I feel that both the junior and senior pools have gotten deeper. Thoughts?

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  5. Elizabeth Preziosa did a scorpion turn on floor in 2009 IIRC! And Elizabet Vasileva does them. They’re really hard though…they require a lot of flexibility and it’s kindof hard to get the feel for them. Super common in rhythmic though!

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  6. RE: Ireland – Taylor Coyle is no longer training. Casey Bell had ankle surgery in November following a fibula break and is easing back into training since the start of February. The National team has not yet been announced but some Squads including the Olympic Start Squad (OSS) has been http://www.gymnasticsireland.com/news/article/national-squads-2017 selection onto OSS is through both testing and talent identification of gymnasts aged 9 to 12 years (Age on Jan 1st 2017).

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