It’s time for the 153rd 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.
Where do NCAA gymnasts train during summer break? Do they go back to club gyms or do they take a total break and just train when they get back to school?
Some go back to club gyms, but many stay on campus and take summer classes and will just keep working out on campus. Sometimes athletes won’t take a full course load during competition season, so they need summer classes to stay on track so they can graduate on time. This isn’t the case with everyone, but often you’ll find that many gymnasts (and student-athletes in general) are a little bit behind in their coursework if they’re only taking two or three classes in their competitive semester so they can focus more on sports. No one does a total break, though I do know of some who have done little study abroad things for a few weeks at a time in the summer, where they likely didn’t have access to actual gymnastics gyms. During those times, conditioning is still going on, and then when they get back to campus they start training skills and routines again, and they generally have four or five months before they need to be in competitive shape again so that’s usually fine if they can work something like that out.
Why don’t gymnasts ever use backward turns on beam and floor? Am I wrong that in the code it does not specifically say that turns must be forward? Would a back pirouette not satisfy the requirement?
I think all gymnastics turns are en dedans, though I’m not sure if this is because of a rule or because it’s simply how they’re trained? I think there is some kind of rule with turns that the working leg has to complete a full rotation and finish in front, so it’s going around in a complete 360 degree spin, whereas a turn en dehors wouldn’t really satisfy that since the working leg turning to the outside and then finishing in front would only be like, 270 degrees? But I don’t think the code specifically says “no en dehors turns allowed.”
I think pretty much every gymnast’s SOLO pirouette I’ve seen has turned en dedans, but I’ve definitely seen combination pirouettes where a gymnast will connect an en dedans turn into an en dehors turn. Here’s an example of that, with Aliya Mustafina doing a triple Y spin en dedans on her left foot and then putting her right foot down and immediately doing an en dehors double pirouette.
So yeah, it seems to be that en dehors is allowed but for some reason en dedans is how everyone in gymnastics ends up doing them. I come from more of a ballet background and am used to turning both ways, though generally we stick to more en dehors. En dedans always freak me out for some reason so it’s so weird seeing it be the norm in gymnastics!
On the second night of Olympic trials, Gabby Douglas did an extra stalder on the low bar before transitioning to high. They said it wasn’t a big error, but was it an error at all? Wouldn’t it give her even more elements and a higher D score?
A gymnast can only count eight elements so it wouldn’t matter if she did an extra stalder — she wasn’t going to be able to count it in her routine. It’s technically a mistake for her because her routine was supposed to go right from the inbar half to Endo half directly into the Chow half, but because she did inbar half to Endo half to stalder to Chow half, if you know her routine like Tim Daggett did and like I did watching, you know that extra stalder happened because she couldn’t make the Chow half happen right away and that’s kind of her way of stalling. It also broke the connection value from the Endo half to Chow half, which I believe was worth 0.1. The stalder to Chow half, meanwhile, wasn’t worth anything. So it wasn’t a huge mistake that affected her execution score really at all, but it did mess with her CV and like I said, those of us watching who expected the inbar half to Endo half to Chow half combination knew something was wrong when she threw a stalder in between those two more difficult skills. But hey, if she hadn’t thrown that in and instead just went for the Chow half despite not being ready for it, she probably would’ve fallen, so if anything it was more a good save/cover-up than a mistake. It showed that she knew how to think on her feet (or, I guess on her hands as the case is with bars).
What makes a double arabian beam dismount harder than a double pike?
A double pike is two back flips whereas a double arabian is a half twist into two front flips. Front flips are more difficult to land because the landing is blind, whereas with a double back, you can spot the landing and have more control over the skill. A pike shape is slightly more difficult to flip in compared to a tuck shape, so you’d think a double flip in a piked position would naturally be more difficult than a double flip in a tuck, but in this case, it’s not about the body position but rather about front vs back. A forward version of a skill is almost always harder than a back version of a skill, and the blind landing is part of it.
Why wasn’t there a world championships in 1998?
I’m not sure what the reasoning was. It could’ve been because the Goodwill Games were also that year? 1994 was also a Goodwill Games year and it was just as weird with a random individual worlds in April and team worlds in November. Four years before THAT, in 1990, there was also a Goodwill Games but no worlds, and the same goes for 1986. So there’s something about those mid-quad years that the FIG was still trying to figure out. Even in 2002, worlds were individual event finals only. It wasn’t until 2006 that the FIG used the mid-quad year as a full team and individual event, so it feels like we’ve been doing things that way forever but in reality this is only the fourth consecutive quad that worlds has had any sort of consistency in its formatting. Before that it was like what’s happening now???
Is there any sort of deduction on bars for going one leg at a time in a toe-on or release move?
Nope. It’s mostly a stylistic choice or a choice gymnasts make if they have back pain or something, because it’s easier on the low back to go one foot at a time.
Did Carly Patterson get a deduction on her 2004 floor routine for not having a move down on the floor or was it not a requirement?
I don’t believe it was a requirement…not that I know of, anyway, but I don’t have access to that code of points.
What is the highest team score ever in women’s NCAA? What team has had the most 10s in a single rotation?
Unfortunately, since the old ranking system went down after Road to Nationals came on the scene, we don’t have access to all of the old data. Road to Nationals only goes back to 1998 and most teams no longer have archives anymore (though they used to, so that’s kind of a bummer). I’m sure it’s possible to go and dig through every school’s stats to find out each program’s record and combine all of them to see who has the top, but yeah, that’s a whole project that’ll take some time. Since 1998, the record is 198.875, a score both UCLA and Stanford earned in 2004. That year was nuts…ten teams all went 198+ which is just insane. Even with today’s out of control scoring, only three teams this season have breached the 198 mark, and in some seasons, zero teams make it happen.
What would the D score be for Oksana Omelianchik’s 1985 beam and floor in the current code? How would these routines be viewed by today’s standards? I don’t think I’ve seen that kind of back to back tumbling being performed today.
On beam, her D would be about 4.6, mostly because none of the connections she did back then are worth anything today, though she would get the series bonus for her flight series. Floor is much more difficult because the format and regulations around a floor routine in 1985 are almost nothing like they are today, and even some of the skills she did back then don’t even exist anymore (like her 1½ roll-out).
The reason no one does the back to back tumbling anymore is because it’s not required and there’s no value to it in the code, so while you do get gymnasts who will punch front out of a pass like Omelianchik did with her double full to front tuck, there’s no incentive to continue from that directly into another tumbling run. Most of the second parts of those back-to-back runs were much easier. With the code today being built off of difficult tumbling, a gymnast would have to do something like a roundoff + bhs + triple full + punch front + roundoff + bhs + double pike or something like that which I think would be physically very hard to do, and they also wouldn’t get any credit from the punch front into the roundoff, so there’s literally zero point in doing it.
The back-to-back passes are cool and all but I mean, her tumbling in the second part of her back-to-back pass was basic at best and would be worth nothing in today’s code. I think she’d count about four A skills and she’d also miss out on the two dance element connection requirement and almost none of her connections are worth anything, except maybe a tenth for that opening piked full-in to back walkover, which you could call an E + A connection (though is a back walkover even in the code on floor as an A skill?), so she’d be at around a 3.4 under today’s code (but her artistry would be the best of almost anything we’ve seen in the past decade so she’d get all of the fan love even if her scores were low).
I’m seeing a lot of side aerials to layout full dismounts in NCAA after never noticing them before. Is it worth more than a gainer full off the side?
They’re worth the same. In NCAA, the dismount requirement for beam is either a C skill on its own, or a B skill directly connected out of a C acro or dance element. A gainer full is a C, so that’s acceptable to do on its own, but a layout full off the end of the beam is only a B, so a gymnast who competed only a layout full would only start out of a 9.8 instead of a 10.0. But a side aerial connected into a layout full fulfills the dismount requirement.
How do you tell the difference between regular, reverse, and L grip during a routine? It’s so hard to tell in real life!
I honestly rarely pay attention in real life because I’m usually too far away if I’m there in person, or if I’m watching on a stream, the video is often too grainy to tell in such a quick amount of time. It usually doesn’t matter unless you want to get really detailed and differentiate between an Ono, Healy, and Ling, and even those are all worth the same so really you can just be like “one-armed front giant full” and your bases are covered.
But if you do want to get crazy technical, here’s a little guide:
Regular grip– This is the most common and pretty much what you see in the majority of skills, since most routines are almost entirely composed of backward skills, aside from maybe one skill to satisfy the grip change requirement. Obviously some gymnasts, most notably the Chinese, do more front work on bars, but really most skills are in regular grip. If you put your arms over your head and pretend you’re grasping a bar (use a broom!), your knuckles will face up to the ceiling, your palms are down against the bar, and your thumbs are facing in.
Reverse grip– This is the most common grip for many front pirouetting elements, like a front giant (or half or full) or an Endo. Reach up for your imaginary bar, but rotate your arms inwards (turn your left hand clockwise and your right hand counter-clockwise). Now when you grasp the bar above you, your knuckles will be facing the floor, your palms are facing up against the bar, and your thumbs point out away from each other.
L grip– This grip is also used in the same front skills as reverse grip, but is less common, more difficult, and super awkward to use, which is why front skills in L grip are usually a little more difficult in the code (a front giant in reverse is a B whereas a front giant in L is a C, for example, and an Endo in reverse is a C but an Endo in L is a D). I can’t even turn my arms in the correct positioning for L grip, let alone grasp anything in L grip or God forbid do any sort of bars skill (I actually went home after I wrote this and held a broom over my head in L grip and I almost died). Basically it’s like reverse grip, but your arms turn in the opposite direction, ending up at a horrifyingly awkward angle. With your arms up, rotate them outward (left hand counter-clockwise and right hand clockwise). Your knuckles are down, palms up, and thumbs out, and your shoulders are probably like “why are you doing this to me?”
Usually when you see front skills on bars with the gymnast’s hands super far apart, it’s because she’s in L grip. For comparison, the gifs above show first a front giant in reverse grip and second a front giant in L grip. Shoulder angle is probably the easiest way to tell these grips apart especially when you can’t see the gymnast’s hand positioning on the bars, but honestly, if I’m doing quick hits I don’t even bother and just say “front giant” because it really only matters if I’m piecing together a D score which I never need to do on the fly.
When do I need to buy tickets to watch P&G Championships live in person? Would you recommend commuting or staying in a hotel if I live 90 minutes away?
P&G Championships never sell out, so you can probably just walk right up and buy tickets on the day of, if you wanted to…but if you wanted to get the best seats, I’d do it pretty early. They probably also have deals for early purchasers, like full package deals as opposed to single events. For me, 90 minutes would be a huge commute and I definitely wouldn’t want to drive that much, especially coming home late after the meet gets out, so I’d probably get a hotel if I were you.
What happened to Jennie Thompson, Alyssa Beckerman, and Morgan White?
Last I heard, Jennie was coaching gymnastics in Spokane, I believe Alyssa is a musician (she actually sang the national anthem at nationals one year, I think back in 2010), and Morgan works at an elementary school in Ohio.
Is Andrea Li considering elite in the future?
No. She plans on competing level 10 for her pre-collegiate career, and has committed to Cal for NCAA.
Do you think Elizabeth Price would’ve challenged Simone Biles had she continued elite?
I think her injures are ultimately what led her to decide to end her elite career and move on to Stanford rather than push forward through to Rio. So if she did end up pushing through, she probably wouldn’t have challenged Simone if she was dealing with injuries that limited her (and had she continued, she probably would’ve risked further injury and jeopardized her NCAA career). But based on how she looked in the spring of 2014, a fully healthy Ebee would’ve been unstoppable and definitely would’ve challenged her. How great would that have been, to have both of them this quad?!
What are those feet wraps gymnasts use when they’re on uneven bars?
You’re probably thinking of heel pads? They protect the heels from smacking the low bar on giants or smacking the high bar on releases. Most gymnasts just use volleyball knee pads or hockey elbow pads…I haven’t seen heel pads specifically for gymnasts.
Can you give us a range of D scores under the new code that would be considered really good?
Based on what I’ve seen so far this season…
- Vault– 5.4 or higher
- Bars– The very best will be between 6.0 and 6.3 right now, but I think anyone around 5.6 or higher is pretty solid
- Beam– Similar to bars…the best beam workers right now are in the 6.0 to 6.3 range, but 5.6 or higher is still a pretty difficult set
- Floor– The highest difficulty so far on floor this season has been a 5.6, with about a 5.2 or higher what the best floor workers have been reaching
Are young social media ‘celebs’ who are also athletes compromising their NCAA eligibility?
Yes. If they accept any sort of products from a company, this is an endorsement and it absolutely compromises their eligibility. I should add there ARE some loopholes, based on whether the gymnast is using her name as a brand or if she is simply hired to do a job. A gymnast can accept a paying gig if she’s hired to do a job, and that’s fine, the same way it would be fine if she got a job at a pizza place to earn some extra cash, or like how Sophina DeJesus used to be a dancer on a kid’s TV show and get paid — again, totally fine, because it was a job. But if a gymnast uses who she is within her sport to endorse products, she can’t get paid (in money or in gifts) otherwise it will compromise her eligibility.
For a real life example, MyKayla Skinner, Maggie Nichols, and Madison Kocian all did that Under Armour commercial last year because Under Armour specifically wanted them to do it based on who they are, because with their status as world gold medalists, they are who best represents the UA brand as opposed to hiring some random models to wear leotards. They were allowed to participate, but couldn’t accept payment for it. But had Under Armour put out a casting call looking for a random girl to play a gymnast in a commercial, and say Maggie ended up booking that commercial, that’s a different story because she would’ve booked that as an actor, not as someone UA brought in specifically to promote their product. So there’s a thin line, but these are ways around the NCAA rules for maintaining eligibility.
What the YouTube and Instagram ‘celeb’ kids are doing, though, that’s all endorsement. Their parents are building up names for them and the kids are becoming ‘famous’ (although why, I’ll never know), and the parents are then using their kids’ names to get free stuff, which the kids them promote on YouTube and Instagram. That absolutely breaks NCAA eligibility rules, so should those kids end up reaching a high enough level to compete in NCAA, they’re going to have a pretty tough time.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins