You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

It’s time for the 147th 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 bars dismounts from the low bar will ever make a comeback?

I don’t think so, if only because most are nowhere near difficult enough to be worth putting into a routine. That’s a huge consideration for any skill on any event, and while it would be cool to see a couple of old-school dismounts, you just don’t have room for high difficulty when dismounting from the low bar the way you do with the high bar.

How many members will be on the worlds teams in the next three years?

This year there will be four, and it’s a non-team competition, with individual finals only. In 2018 and 2019, there will be five members per team, and then at the Olympic Games in 2020, teams will be limited to four gymnasts.

Is it a possibility that Maggie Nichols or MyKayla Skinner could go to worlds and pass up some of the girls who have been training elite?

Yup. Probably pretty easily at this point, honestly. I think MyKayla is actually gonna go for it, from what I’ve heard, though I’m not sure about Maggie. Maggie’s routines are a little more downgraded in NCAA than what she’d need for elite, though I don’t think it’d take much for her to bring back a decent enough level to contend in the current elite field.

Do you think if MyKayla Skinner goes to worlds she could throw in a double back + punch front to her current floor routine and make finals?

Honestly with the way floor looks internationally at the moment, MyKayla could go to worlds with her NCAA routine (plus a punch front out of something to get that requirement out of the way) and medal. Floor is kind of a disaster in elite right now with all of last year’s top gymnasts not currently competing it. Of the top 25 floor qualifiers in Rio, about five have returned to competition on that event, and of those five, no one is anywhere close to a similar competitive level (as opposed to bars and beam, where the competition is already pretty solid and has been continuing to heat up all season thus far). Actually, all of the best floor workers I’ve seen so far this year have been juniors! For real, I was low-key joking about her coming back earlier this year, but I think she could be competitive in both the vault and floor finals with only slight modifications to her NCAA routines.

I know you can get a tenth in bonus when you do a roundoff to double pike dismount on beam in the new code under the B+E rule. Does that work the other way around? Could you also get a tenth for a transverse side aerial to layout full, which is E + B? What if you do E + C? Would this be two tenths?

For most of the connection bonuses on beam, the skill order does not matter, but because the B + E bonus specifically says “B + E (dismount)” it means the dismount has to be the E skill to get that bonus tenth. A C + E dismount would also have to fit that requirement, but if someone did attempt a C + E dismount series, it would still only be a tenth. The only way to increase to two tenths would be to compete a “B + F (or more, dismount)” series. So no, a transverse side aerial to layout full would not receive that credit in elite.

What is the latest on Norah Flatley? Is she still training with Chow? Is she planning to compete elite in 2017? What do you think her prospects are?

She is still training with Chow and has been attending the camps so far this year, but she didn’t make the Jesolo team so my guess is that she’s not completely back yet with full routines. Hopefully she can get them back by this summer to have a strong showing at nationals and make a big push for worlds, but having not seen her do anything competitive in two years, it’s hard to say where she stands.

How much will Maile O’Keefe’s side aerial + loso + loso + layout full be worth if she does it in competition?

As for skill value she’d get 0.4 for the side aerial, 0.3 for one of the layout stepouts (she can’t count both), and 0.7 for the layout full, and then for connections she’d get I think about 0.5 total in addition to another 0.1 for series bonus. Assuming she counts the layout stepout (it’s a C skill so if she has all other D+ skills, she might not need to count this at all), she will get about 2 points for this series on its own, which…is kind of bonkers huge.

The sting mats that some girls use on floor at domestic meets…are they not allowed at worlds or the Olympics?

No, they can’t use sting mats at worlds or the Olympics. Some other smaller-scale international meets might allow for them in addition to domestic meets and NCAA meets, but that’s about it.

Is Angi Cipra competing this season?

Yes, I believe she got a late start to her season due to injury, but she’s been back since early February on vault and floor. She had a new floor routine this year, but recently changed it back to her cell phone routine from last year because they felt it better connected with the crowd.

I’ve heard Sabrina Schwab can redshirt this season. Will the same go for Morgan Porter?

Yes, Morgan was looking to redshirt last I heard, and I believe she was still eligible under the timing limits they have for redshirting. I don’t think she should have a problem getting that extra year of eligibility.

Do you know why Brianna Brown is not making lineups at Michigan?

I believe she was dealing with injury in the early part of the season and so they opted to rest her and save her for postseason. She came back on bars in the Big Five meet, and also competed only this event at Big Tens and regional championships, so I’m assuming she has some kind of lower extremity injury going on that’s limiting her from doing more…otherwise I think she’d definitely make more of their lineups.

What is a Yurchenko layout half?

A Yurchenko layout half is a round-off entry vault where the layout off the table has a half twist before landing it. It can be performed as an arabian, which is when the half twist comes first and then the gymnast performs a front layout, or it can be performed with the twist done a bit later, so it’s like a back layout with a simultaneous half flip. The arabian is tiny bit more difficult, but it doesn’t really matter. You never see Yurchenko layout half vaults in elite…most gymnasts who are weaker on vault stick to a Yurchenko layout with no twist, and those who are a little bit more advanced just do a Yurchenko full (and then beyond that, a 1½, and then a double, and then an Amanar). Any Yurchenko vault with a half twist causes the vault to have a blind landing, which is why a regular layout, a full, or a double are the most common, though the best gymnasts will go for the Amanar despite the blind landing because it adds the highest difficulty. Most gymnasts would be better off competing a clean Yurchenko layout for slightly lower difficulty than adding that half twist and dealing with major landing deductions.

Has anyone ever done a layout Jaeger?

Yup! Elena Eremina of Russia and Victoria Nguyen of the United States both compete one right now (though both end up being a little piked, especially Victoria’s), and Viktoria Komova had a beautiful layout Jaeger back in her day. Oh, and Jessica Lopez competed one in her Olympic routine that was quite nice. I’m sure there are lots I’m forgetting…like I totally forgot about He Kexin’s until someone commented, and hers was literally perfect. A few Chinese gymnasts have done them, actually.

Did Emily Gaskins move back to Cincinnati to train at CGA again?

Yup! Not sure when exactly or what happened to bring about the change, but she’s been with Mary Lee Tracy at all of the post-Olympic camps.

What is a walk-on?

A walk-on is a gymnast who doesn’t get a scholarship for a certain NCAA team, but still wants to be a part of that team and so the coach extends an invitation to her that allows her to be part of that team but not receive an athletic scholarship for her contribution.

Many walk-ons are girls who grow up as fans of the program living in the same state and attend the summer camps and things like that, who reach level 10 but aren’t super competitive but still have the skill level to compete NCAA routines. Even though they don’t get the athletic scholarship, they can still get academic or need-based scholarships, and many receive in-state tuition, so it’s a little bit cheaper for them. It’s definitely rare to see a walk-on travel across the country and pay full out-of-state tuition.

Some walk-ons will only be glorified mat movers and bag carriers, others might do exhibition routines but never make the line-up, but a select few become such reliable competitors, if a scholarship happens to open up by the time they become juniors or seniors, they can be granted a scholarship at some point.

Some schools like having tons of walk-ons because it increases depth. NCAA gym programs can only award 12 scholarships at any given time, which can make things tight when they have to field 24 routines per meet each week, so having a bunch of walk-ons is great because it gives the top gymnasts a chance to rest without having to sacrifice much during the season. A team with something like 12 scholarship kids and 8 walk-ons is generally going to be able to overcome injury problems a smaller team might not survive.

Has Colbi Flory stepped down to level 10 from junior elite?

Yes, she is competing level 10 now, and is doing pretty well. She just came in third at states, where she got a 9.8 on beam, an event she has rocked all season.

How does MyKayla Skinner get enough power for her vaults with her block?

From her legs, believe it or not. The whole point of vault is performing flips and twists in the air using only the mighty power of your arms pushing you off the table, but it’s a lot easier to get power from your legs. Gymnasts will sometimes cheat their blocks and rely on leg power coming off the springboard to get over the table, which is most noticeable with MyKayla on her Cheng. I don’t see as much of a problem with her Yurchenko, and think her block is generally quite solid there aside from slightly bent elbows at times, which absorbs some of the power she should be turning into momentum from her block. But I don’t think it’s SO bad that it completely destroys her block…it’s just one of those things that could make her a stronger vaulter if she fixed it, but isn’t completely ruining what she already can do.

Are NCAA athletes eligible for worlds?

Yes, but most don’t end up attempting to make worlds teams while competing in NCAA because of the time commitment required to do elite. Generally when you do see this, it’s gymnasts from smaller countries who go to worlds competing the same routines they do at the NCAA level because they’re not vying for medals or team finals or anything. U.S. gymnasts who compete in NCAA have attempted to do both at the same time, but it’s super difficult to make something like that happen.

Will it be worth it for Ashton Locklear to try to make it to Tokyo?

I mean, yeah. Even if she doesn’t end up making it, if she loves the sport and can pick up some world or other international medals along the way, why not try? I don’t get this idea of it only being “worth it” to go for the Olympic dream only if you have an absolute guarantee of making it. Many gymnasts know they’re not going to end up on an Olympic team and know they have a zero percent shot at maybe even making it to trials, but once you’re at that level you still want to at least go for it because why not? Almost zero gymnasts do gymnastics solely because they have the Olympics in mind. There are something like 100,000 gymnasts in the U.S. and something like 0.005% of them will make an Olympic team. The odds are almost impossible. So clearly no one is doing gymnastics for the sole purpose of going to the Olympics. Ashton at least has a chance at making it, especially this quad where she won’t have to fit a team structure and could potentially get an individual spot. It might not happen, but if she’s healthy and enjoying her time in the sport, why wouldn’t it be worth it, even if she doesn’t end up making it?

Why has the unfair judging of the Chinese gymnasts not been investigated?

There’s always a kind of judging review at the end of big meets like worlds and the Olympics so perhaps it is being looked into and we just don’t know about it? I’m also not sure how far the accusations went, whether they were just complaints made in general about the FIG, or whether China filed actual grievances with the FIG and requested an investigation. I do think the judging was unfair, but I also think it was unfair to many other gymnasts, especially those who competed in that first subdivision, which is where the bulk of China’s low scores came from. This is how subjective sports have been since the beginning of time, and some countries are always going to have a period of time where they end up with the short straw. Unfortunately for China, this happened last summer, but it also happened to Belgium (specifically Nina Derwael’s bars qualification score) and to Turkey (Tutya Yilmaz’s beam qualification score) and to several others who were completely overlooked for whatever reason despite similar routines from other countries being scored by a vastly different standard. Even if there’s no official investigation, hopefully the complaints bring to light these issues and judges will be more careful in the future.

If an NCAA gymnast with a full scholarship gets a season-ending injury (like the Glenn twins), what happens to their scholarship?

The gymnasts keep the scholarships. Scholarships can’t be taken away due to injuries. Injuries are part of any sport at the NCAA level, and coaches know it, which is why they train multiple alternates for each event. Most gymnasts will get injured at one point or another throughout their collegiate careers, but for the most part, they’re all granted multiple-year scholarships that can’t be revoked due to injury or even subpar athletic performance.

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


23 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Thank you Lauren! I love the You Asked series. Assuming that MyKayla adds the punch to meet all Elite floor CR, what is the difficulty score of MyKayla’s NCAA floor?


    • Assuming she met all CR, her routine as-is with only 6 skills would be 4.4 (in NCAA her skills are double double, cat leap, tour jete full, 1.5, double full, and full-in). Minor tweaks could get that up by 0.8, though. She can still add two more skills to count, like a front double full (D) to cover the front skill and to get her up to 4.8, and then the hop full turn she did in elite (B) to get her up to a 5.0. From there, if she changes the 1.5 + double full to back to her 1.5 + 2.5, she adds 0.1 skill value and 0.1 CV to get to 5.2. All of these tweaks are no big deal, and she’s definitely capable of making even heavier changes, but right now the top floor workers have D scores of around 5.2-5.4 so even these super minor tweaks would put her among the best floor workers in the world at the moment.


        • In NCAA they take off 0.05 for a lot of things and ignore a lot of other things…realistically, an 8.5 is what she’d be getting with a really clean hit routine.


  2. Huh, so World teams will be going from six to five? (I assume because Olympics is going from five to four.) Any chance that gymnasts can start qualifying for Worlds as individual specialists too?


  3. In regards to Skinner, what do all the readers think are the reasons – she doesn’t fix her block? The bent elbows, the one arm approach for her cheng etc… Is it just wonky coaching..? Also is it really hard to clean up her flexed sandal feet on her tumbles? Why are these little things never fixed? Im not trying to be snide, I really want to know is it merely bad habits, or does it throw off the skill for the gymnast that it will feel off if she actually pointed her toes? Or is it merely such a small thing no one cares?


        • Yup, like Emma said…when your focus is on doing a double double, the last thing you’re thinking about is whether your toes are pointed. I do ballet and sometimes on a simple grand battement, my left foot flexes out of habit and I have to actively go over every tiny piece of the movement in my head to make sure it’s right. There’s always a million things to think about in skills like these, and when your focus is on hitting, many gymnasts get sloppy about the smaller pieces.


      • You wrote that when you are focused on doing a double double the last thing you are worried about is pointing toes? Um. sorry. no. Maybe if you are just learning the skill. Skinner has been doing it for how long? Ask Cheng Fei, Shawn Johnson,, Jordyn Weiber, if they ‘worried’ about pointing their toes in their double double. lol. POINT YOUR TOES.


        • Yes but everyone has bad habits from the earliest levels that carry over to advanced skills. Pointed toes, flexed feet, loose knees, bent elbows…everyone had minor flaws that they don’t think about when there are a thousand things going on in a skill. If you’re training a switch ring and your back leg keeps dangling or if you’re going too far forward but not getting enough height, your coach gives you a mental cue to help you remember that during your routine. So then your focus might shift to that mental cue and you get that aspect of the skill right, but then other aspects might suffer. Why do you think we’ve never seen a 10.0 E score? Because no one is doing LITERALLY PERFECT skills. Everyone has flaws or bad habits that follow through to big elite skills. Do you think Simone Biles was never taught to not cross her feet on her Amanar? Nope, but when she’s thinking about flipping and rotating and keeping her legs together and landing blindly, she lets the least of her concerns slide because the other aspects are more important. No, not every gymnast ignores their feet in a double double, but if you think Jordyns double double is perfect because her feet are pointed, you’re MIND-BLOWINGLY incorrect. She has flaws of her own. They all do. On literally every skill. If they didn’t, they’d all be getting perfect tens.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. “How much will Maile O’Keefe’s side aerial + loso + loso + layout full be worth if she does it in competition?”

    She’s training a layout full at the end of that? Anyone have video? I’ve seen video of the tuck full…


    • I’d love to see the layout full, too. But actually, I haven’t even seen video of her doing a tuck full at the end — do you have that?


    • I think the asker thought it was a layout full when in reality it was a tuck full that could’ve been mistaken as a piked full. If she did the one I saw in the video I don’t think it would receive credit for the layout.


      • With layout fulls, they’re generally pretty lenient in terms of what constitutes a layout. Most layout fulls I’ve seen have been pretty piked or even tucked but have still gotten credit, as opposed to a straight layout, which are pretty heavily downgraded.


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

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