You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 154th 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.

If a Texas Division I school were to take the plunge and start a gymnastics program, what would the cost be? Would they be required to start both a men’s and women’s program?

They wouldn’t be required to start both a MAG and WAG program, and I don’t know what the cost would be…budgets for gymnastics programs depend on the school, with some spending way more money than others, so it’d depend on what the college would want to invest. I’d imagine a UT school has a pretty massive athletics budget, their football teams are more profitable than some NFL teams, so UT could definitely go all out hiring the best coaches, building the best facilities, traveling to competitions on private jets, etc, if that’s how they wanted to do things. Adding a new sport isn’t easy, especially for a smaller school with less money, but if a bigger university like UT didn’t want to take it on, it’s definitely manageable for a smaller school, but it’s all about if they (a) have room in the budget to bring it on, and (b) if it would be self-sustainable and be worth the cost they put into it.

Sometimes you see gymnasts put up a lot of fight to stay on the beam and sometimes they just hop right off. If they do a lot of arm waving, hopping around, and ultimately fall off anyway, do they get the wobble deductions PLUS a fall deduction? Is that why they sometimes just hop right off without fighting?

If the end result is a fall, they just get the deduction for the fall, not for all of the fight they use to attempt to stay on. For those who just hop right off without fighting, it’s usually because they’re too far off to fight for it. If a gymnast lands with both feet on the beam but has a check at the hips or something that takes her off-balance, she can still fight for that, but if her feet aren’t planted in a certain way, sometimes she just knows there’s nothing she can do to save it.

I noticed that some gymnasts have a large leg separation when they swing up to handstand or transition to the high bar. Is there a deduction for this?

For giant swings, a straddle is allowed. The straddle usually occurs before arching through the tap, helping gymnasts avoid hitting the low bar with their feet, but then once they tap, they bring their legs back in to complete the skill. For transitions, it depends on the transition you’re talking about. For transitions like a toe shoot or Ray, they’re supposed to be straddled, but for a skill like a Maloney or other shaposh skills, their legs are supposed to be together, so any leg separation there would be a deduction.

Could you go through a few DI routines and pick some that would have the highest D scores and score well in elite?

I mean, not really, because that would take forever and literally none of them have high D scores in elite because they’re not doing enough high-difficulty skills, or enough skills period, to reach D scores past about 4.5 at the absolute highest. Off the top of my head, basically any DTY on vault (obviously), and for non-vaults, MyKayla Skinner’s floor probably comes closest. With a few tweaks, I think Peng-Peng Lee’s bars could also work…she doesn’t have a non-flight 360 degree element or a grip change, so there’s a point missing from her CR, but if she added both of those her routine would transition pretty well into elite.

Why do gymnasts get deductions for flexed feet? Is it for aesthetic reasons or because flexed feet make it easier to compete skills?

Flexed feet show a lack of control. They don’t inherently make it easier to compete skills, but they show that the gymnast is being a bit lazy by not extending the body’s line all the way through the toes. Generally when you have a lot going on in a skill, you’re thinking about a million things, and you might not be thinking about pointing your feet because that’s the least of your concerns when you’re trying to catch a Tkachev or something. It’s partly an aesthetic kind of thing because pointed feet do look better than flexed when you’re talking about the body line, but most things double as correct form and aesthetics…like, bent knees on a layout don’t only look bad, but are also incorrect. Flexed feet are in the same boat.

What are the differences between MAG and WAG composition requirements and deductions on vault and floor?

The deductions are more or less the same, except there’s no artistry deduction in MAG. Everything else is pretty similar, like hops on landings, leg separation, chest down, lack of height, lack of flexibility, bent knees or elbows, and so on. I think one specific to MAG floor is probably angular deviation on swing elements (something like a full turn to handstand), since women don’t really have swing elements, and no hand support on roll-out elements, but everything else is pretty similar. Oh, and they also get deducted if they simply walk into the corner before a tumbling pass, which is why they do those silly leaps or just somersault in like toddlers.

In terms of composition, men count their 10 most difficult elements including the dismount, and they must count a double salto within those 10 elements (new to the updated code of points, thanks Japan). There are four element groups in men’s floor — non-acro (flairs, press to handstand), acro forward, acro backwards + arabians, and dismounts — and the gymnast must include at least one element from each of the groups, and no more than five elements from the same group can count as one of the 10 skills. Oh, and the men get 70 seconds to complete an exercise.

The women count their 8 most difficult elements including the dismount (the last counting acro line). Three of these elements must be acro and three must be dance, but the other two can be from either category (so women can do five acro and three dance, three acro and five dance, or four of each). They also have to include two directly or indirectly connected leaps or hops (one of which must reach a 180 split), a salto with a minimum of one full twist, a double salto, and saltos both backwards and forward in an acro line. Women’s routines are 90 seconds long.

I know that Romania’s problems go deeper than bars, but do you think the new dismount rules will help them or not impact them?

It could help them a little bit. Most of them didn’t really struggle getting D dismounts on bars, especially with the top girls who were actually competing internationally, but if downgrading to a C dismount could help them focus more on the interior of their routines, it could be at least a little beneficial to them.

Why does Catalina Ponor do sloppy ‘pikes’ instead of tucks?

Do you mean pikes with a knee bend? She probably is reaching for pikes and hoping they get credited as pikes for the extra bit of difficulty, though yeah, even if they get credited she probably loses a little in execution when they have those form errors. I think it’s just a gamble gymnasts have to take sometimes…I remember back in the day Jordyn Wieber used to stick double layouts off bars like it was easy, and then she upgraded to the full, and she almost always took a step. I was like you’re gaining a tenth but losing as many as three depending on the step?! Why?! But some gymnasts like to just go for the higher difficulty level and hope the deductions won’t be too much.

Why do individual rankings in NCAA change so much after the RQS is applied? Is it normal to move up 20 or even 100 spots?

When the rankings are done by average, if you’ve had a fall during your season, that fall is included in your average which means a lower ranking. Competing six great routines and one routine with a fall, you could end up with a lower average that could get you around 100th place or lower. But when it switches over, the RQS takes the top six routines, drops the high score, and averages the remaining five, so that routine with the fall would no longer be counted and suddenly your average jumps up from a 9.6 or 9.7 to a 9.9 or higher, and bam, you go from 100th to the top 10. It’s like the fall never happened.

Why do some NCAA gymnasts only have two tumbling passes on floor? How do they make up the requirements so their start values begin at a 10?

Usually a floor routine with only two passes has a higher level of difficulty in both passes than a routine with three passes might have. Floor requires a minimum of of three saltos within the exercise, minimum of C salto in the last tumbling line, and one acro series with two saltos, so a gymnasts who can tackle all three of these requirements in just two passes is totally fine. A good example of this is Majesta Valentine. She competes a front double full (E) and then a Rudi to loso (D + A) , so she is able to knock out all of the difficulty requirements with just those two.

Has anyone ever competed a forward inbar stalder?

I don’t think so, but the closest is probably a jam, which you see a lot in MAG. A jam to handstand reaches the same inbar position in the swing and is a front skill, but it doesn’t complete the full circle like an actual forward inbar would. A couple of WAG gymnasts have competed a jam to handstand as well, like Chellsie Memmel into her double front dismount and Natsumi Sasada into her Jaeger. But so far that’s about as close as we’ve gotten, I think, aside from the front toe-on, which a few gymnasts — like the Downies — have in their routines.

What is the difference between reverse grip and inverted grip?

There are lots of names for different grips, but the ones I try to stick to are regular, reverse, and L grip, which is how skills are described in the code of points (oh, and mixed grip, but that’s self-explanatory because it’s just a mix of two grips, usually regular and reverse). I think the only time I see inverted grip in the code of points is when it refers to the Ling pirouette. The Ling begins in L grip, hops to reverse grip, and finishes in L grip, so when the code says ‘inverted grip’ that’s what they mean in relation to the Ling.

As for the difference between reverse and L grip, if you hold your hands up in the air like you’re on a roller coaster, rotate your arms inwards (turn your left hand clockwise and your right hand counter-clockwise). That’s reverse grip. Go back to your roller coaster hands up and this time, rotate your arms outwards (turn your left hand counter-clockwise and your right hand clockwise). That’s L grip. They’re similar in that with both, when grasping a bar in handstand your knuckles should be facing the ground and your palms are going up toward the ceiling with your thumbs pointing out away from each other, but the way you invert your arms to get to that position — in for reverse, out for L — is the difference. Reverse grip is the easier of the two. If you’ve played my roller coaster game and tried to put your arms in L grip, you’ve probably felt for yourself that L grip is physically impossible for most human beings and therefore the more difficult of the two.

Why is Rhode Island College so far behind in ranking? They seem to have okay difficulty not miles behind other programs.

Their difficulty is pretty solid, and they’ve actually increased it a good deal in recent years. But most bigger D1 programs get elites and the best level 10s, the remainder of the D1 and all of the D2 programs get good level 10s who weren’t quite strong enough for a top program as well as the occasional level 9, and then D3 — which can’t offer academic scholarships — has about half level 10 and half level 9 gymnasts. But the code of points for NCAA is the same no matter the division, so you have former level 9s competing the same skills as former elites and level 10s, and so most D3 teams tend to be at a disadvantage in terms of getting deducted for form. Most D3 gymnasts will be competing routines out of a 9.8-10 on average, so the difficulty is up there, but they get more taken off for how well those skills are competed. Some D3 programs definitely have gymnasts who are super strong and could probably get a spot on a D1 team, but others are a bit weaker.

Rhode Island College does have some strong gymnasts and solid routines, but they don’t have as much depth as other programs in terms of having top gymnasts because they don’t have a lot of funding and support from administration. Their resources and facilities are pretty bleak, and the girls on the team make do with what they have, but recruiting can be difficult when gymnasts want better facilities and equipment. Many of the best gymnasts looking into the D3 level will go to those schools with more to offer.

So being unable to attract top recruits, there are still some great routines in the lineup, but also some girls who score pretty low, and it brings them down a bit in their team score. But RIC has actually been getting stronger every year! When I started watching NCAA in about 2008, they were scoring in the 160s, and a low 170 was high for them. At one point they were even getting scores in the high 150s. But over the past few years, they started reaching the mid-170s as a high, steadily increasing each year. This year they started out in the mid-170s, and got a 183 as a high. So things are definitely improving for them, and I think they can definitely keep that momentum going so hopefully in the coming years we’ll see them get more and more competitive within D3!

Is there something different about the way NCAA gymnasts perform a release move and then a kip on bars in comparison to elites? It seems NCAA gymnasts are more ‘swingy’ or that they kip with their thighs.

I don’t know if I’m not picturing what you’re saying correctly or if I’ve just never noticed it before, but maybe?

Were you surprised when Aliya  Mustafina upgraded her bars routine for Rio event finals?

No. I figured she was going to have some sort of tricks up her sleeves because that’s the Aliya way. It was just so funny that a year earlier she was wrestling with wanting to retire and wasn’t in shape enough to make it to worlds on time, and everyone kind of thought she was done…but like, the one thing we always need to learn is that you can never count out Aliya Mustafina.

Do you think if Stefania Stanila and Andreea Munteanu continued to improve the way they had been, could they have surpassed Larisa Iordache? Do you think a team with those three, Catalina Ponor, Laura Jurca, and Ana Maria Ocolisan at the test event could’ve made it to Rio and medaled?

I don’t know if they could’ve surpassed Larisa but I think they probably could’ve gotten pretty damn good based on how promising they once looked. Had they stuck around, even in their 2014 shape, they definitely would have added to the depth of the Romanian team and could’ve helped them qualify…and probably at worlds in 2015, making the test event totally unnecessary for them. A team medal might have been a long shot, but I think they would’ve made it to Rio no problem with girls like that on the team.

Do you know what deductions the judges found in McKayla Maroney’s Amanar in the London team final?

There really wasn’t much, but the leg separation on the pre-flight was about six inches or so, which would incur a deduction, and if you want to get suuuper picky about her layout shape in the air, she had a very slight pike in her hips…like a few degrees at most, but it was there. She also had a tiny leg separation as she came in for the landing, and it looked like her feet were a little bit crossed in the last half twist. Two or three tenths off, depending on how picky the judges felt like being, was pretty accurate.

Let’s say you hopped onto the beam, did one split jump perfectly, then hopped off and saluted. Would you get a 10.0 E score?

Yup! I’ve seen something like that before, not where a gymnast just hopped on and did a skill and then was like “byeeee” but where someone did one element but then felt pain and ended the routine early. The D score was about a 0.1 but the E was about a 9.8. There were something like 8 points off in ND for short exercise, though, so the final score was about a 1.9.

Why do people say Romania was SO weak in 2014. On a hit day, they were on par with Russia.

They were weak in terms of their depth. They had a couple of gymnasts who looked really strong — Larisa Iordache on one level, and then Andreea Munteanu and Stefania Stanila a little below her — but that was about it. The other three on the team weren’t near their level, and there was really no one else in the country close to their level. A team is as strong as its weakest member, so conceivably, yes, they had potential to get some good numbers, but they really only had one member of the team working at a really high level and bringing in all of the top scores, and only another two who were decent enough. Romania in a three-up three-count situation in 2014 was excellent because they had no depth, but they did have some really big scores from the top girls, so putting three gymnasts up was no problem. But in qualifications when they had to put five gymnasts up, they basically barely had the depth to field five athletes on each event, let alone five really strong routines. Russia wasn’t great that year either, and Romania nearly beat them for the bronze in team finals because Russia had falls, but hitting in a three-up final is not how you gauge team strength. Team strength is all about having the numbers to back up those three in the final, and Romania didn’t have that at all.

Do any gymnasts compete both an Amanar and a Rudi vault?

Not at the moment or in recent history that I can think of? The closest was Giulia Steingruber and Alicia Sacramone doing Yurchenko doubles with the Rudi. I’m trying to think of every Amanar I can remember from a vault final and can’t picture anyone who did a Rudi as the second…everyone back in the day did the Amanar with a tsuk vault as the second, and everyone more recently has done a Yurchenko half-on family vault.

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. 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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22 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Great work, as always.

    For the Amanar + Rudi question – the closest I can think of is Phan Thi Ha Thanh in the 2013 EF. She did her usual Rudi for the first vault and attempted to upgrade her usual DTY to an Amanar for her second. She fell and was only credited the DTY though.

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    • Oh yeah, that’s right! Completely forgot she did that…I went through everyone who competed an Amanar to try to match it up but forgot that she never got her attempt credited.

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  2. “Do you mean pikes with a knee bend? She probably is reaching for pikes and hoping they get credited as pikes for the extra bit of difficulty, though yeah, even if they get credited she probably loses a little in execution when they have those form errors.”

    It would seem this would only be relevant when she dismounts the beam with a double pike. The piked full-in on beam, as well as the piked full-in and double pike on floor, all have the same difficulty ratings as their tucked counterparts. Maybe it has something to do with her rotating or landing piked somersaults more easily than tucked ones?

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      • 1 tenth right? D-E. The odd thing with cata is when she tries to layout (beam) she pikes, when she tries to pike she tucks, so what happens when she tries to tuck?

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        • For Ponor, she usually tries to upgrade her dismount to a pike full in, which is the same as a tuck full in. So really she gains nothing by doing a piked full in with bent knees. However, her double pike dismount without the twist is pretty clean, although she does overrotate it on occasion.

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  3. I know that Romania has lots of deep rooted issues, but with Iordache and Ponor, will they be ok short term? Like the next two years? Could Iordache AA medal at WC?

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    • I have actually asked myself the same question. As for this year, Ponor can potentially medal at Euros and Worlds on Beam. Iordace is still injured, for Euros only competing beam and bars. She could medal there on beam but I think for worlds if she wants to have a shot at the AA she needs to be healthy. (I wish she was healthy, she has so much potential, still)
      So this year, I guess they are kinda fine. Worlds are only idividually, so no team which is good for Romania this year. But I don’t really see them stepping up tbh. They always have great juniors with huge potential, as they have Cimpian and Crisan turning senior this year and probably 2 or 3 other ones turning senior this year. But they keep getting stuck at this level. They changed the system now I hope that it will change to the better 🙂

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      • I have a sense of a better future for Romanian gymnastics. Forminte (head coach) is a smart guy and now that he’s the their coach again I feel he will know how to deal with the situation. I see improvement in the new seniors in both difficulty and execution. I also know that there is a program that is helping to bring more kids into the sport in hopes of have more talented gymnasts and it seems to be working. One girl in particular, Sabrina Voinea, is already doing high difficulty including double layouts at age 10. I REALLY want them to be good again. I want it so frickin badly!

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        • High difficulty at a young age doesnt always translate to this amazing career. Grishina was able to land doubles doubles as a Junior, Wieber had an Amanar by the time she was 13, as did Komova, and Tan Sixin threw mid 15 beam sets, with tons of difficulty and potential and floor and bars as well as a junior like they were nothing. Pavlova was another one that had an illustrious junior career. However Grishina ended up having a team silver and a floor gaffe that marred her career, Tan Sixin couldn’t manage to make a weak Chinese field at the olympics where the Chinese thought she could’ve gotten at least a medal on beam, if not contend on floor and bars as well. Pavlova had a heartbreaking career where she rather got screwed by the judges (like Beijing beam finals), or by herself, in terms of inconsistency and unfortunately timed injuries. Wieberndidnt have an awful career, but the US team definitley wasn’t shooting for a stolen all around world title and a single Olympic team medal for her. Komova came and went with injury after injury as a senior. She also didn’t have a bad career, but there’s something very disappointing about someone who gets hyped for gold in all around and never bars, complimented by a beam medal, and then leaving with a pair of silvers. Technically her career is ongoing, but I felt like Rio was her chance. With her track records of injuries, and the way that her body wore down so quickly in months, I don’t think she can make it to Tokyo. Maybe she could make a world championships team if the fields weak and she gets lucky, but i personally think she’s pretty mix done.

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  4. Super nitpicky – and I could be wrong (I’m reading this at work and trying to do inconspicuous arm movements in the air) – but aren’t the L grip/reverse grip directions backwards? That is, you turn your arms inwards for an L-grip and outwards for a reverse grip? Either that, or I have *really* odd shoulder flexibility that’s the reverse of everyone else’s.

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      • I just commented this on the discussion in the previous You Asked thread, but I figured it out that it’s how people are thinking of the clockwise vs. counterclockwise.

        It’s pretty easy to figure out which is reverse and which is L, though. Since one is decently easy, and the other is like eff this.

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  5. For the fan asking about NCAA routines being scored under elite code, NCAA Gym News has an article about last year’s Super Six if it were scored like elite and will be posting one about this year sometime in the next two weeks! I can tell you the highest non-vault D-score I’ve calculated so far was a 4.2 for Wofford’s bars, but I haven’t gotten to floor yet! Last year I think the highest was Gnat’s floor at 5ish. Capps’s beam was also up there.

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  6. Is there any particular page that has an easy to understand discussion on the difference between D1, D2 and D3 schools and how they’re different/why they don’t compete against each other?

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    • I think BalanceBeamSituation had something. From what I remember: D1 can offer 10 (12?) scholarships, D2 6 scholarships, D3 no scholarships. Also, D1 does compete against D2/D3 on occasion. I know at Texas Woman’s University they are a D2 school but competed against Florida, OU, OSU, etc. We went to a quad meet that had OU, another D2 school, and a D3 school.

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  7. I heard you on the Gymcastic podcast say Mykayla Skinner has said some dumb things on twitter from time to time.. What type of stuff did she talk about? Just curious

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    • I remember her saying some stuff when Victoria Moors got the double double layout named after her. Yes, Mykayla did it first at national competitions, but Victoria was the first to do it at a major international competition (Worlds).

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