You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


It’s time for the 155th 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.

How do the girls not officially on the junior or senior teams get invited to U.S. national team camps?

Usually in the fall camps after worlds or the Olympics when everything is calming down, a bunch of girls who placed at nationals will get camp invites because it’s like, especially for the juniors, only six usually make the national team but they like to bring in a bunch more so they can see what else is out there and if maybe someone who had a rough time at nationals is doing better and has a lot to offer. From there, going into the new year, the invites drop off to only those who could potentially add value to upcoming teams, so there’s still a greater number than just those on the national team, but it’s a bit more tapered off. Aside from those who compete at nationals, invites can also go out to promising developmental gymnasts who are aging out of developmental camps and getting ready to go elite, and coaches can also send in video updates from non-national team elites and elite hopefuls with skills and routines so Valeri Liukin can decide off of those videos if that’s someone to keep an eye on and bring in even if they haven’t really had a reason to invite them in the past.

What would Alex McMurtry’s DTY score in the elite system?

When she’s at her best and sticks, I don’t think there’s much even elite judges would take away. Watching one of her perfect 10 vaults from this year, her legs come apart for the majority of the second twist, and her chest angle isn’t straight up when she lands (though she pulls it back so fast, it might not even be noticeable to judges in real time). I’d say she’d get around a 9.3-9.5 E score for her best attempts, so combined with the D score of 5.4, she’d earn around a 14.7-14.9.

If Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman went up against each other at their best (Wieber in 2011-2012, Raisman in 2016), who would have won? If they were both part of the 2016 team at their best, who would’ve been the second all-arounder in Rio after Simone Biles?

It’s a tough call…honestly, they probably would’ve gone back and forth. I think Jordyn was a bit more polished and had a better quality of gymnastics across all four events, but she didn’t really have a standout event in the way Aly did with floor. Though Aly also had bars as an issue, so really, you have Jordyn with four equally strong events but no standout, and Aly with a standout and two strong events, but a weakness on bars…so it kind of evens out. I think had 2012 Jordyn been on the 2016 team, Martha Karolyi would’ve had Simone, Aly, and Jordyn all compete the all-around in qualifications, and then it would’ve just come down to the gymnast that had the better day in terms of making it to finals, which is basically what ended up happening in 2012.

I’ve noticed most gymnasts fold out the waistband of their warmups when wearing them while waiting between rotations. Is it to raise them to avoid ripping them when stretching or doing splits?

Could be, though you could just tug them up when you do splits and it wouldn’t be a problem. I always thought it was more of a style kind of thing, haha. I know when I was in middle school it was super cool to wear Adidas track pants with the waistband rolled down. Also, I think for a lot of the warmups, the waistbands tend to ride up pretty high whereas most prefer to wear pants with lower-rise waistbands. As a short person, sometimes when I buy pants, the waistband practically comes up to my ribs and I had one pair of yoga pants where the waist came up to my armpits, hahaha.

What’s the difference between a Healy and a Ling (reverse and inverted grip)?

A Healy is in reverse grip, which is when you hold up your arms and rotate them inwards. A Ling is in what the code calls ‘inverted grip’ but really it’s done from L grip, hops to reverse grip, and then finishes in L grip. L grip is basically the opposite of reverse grip…whereas with reverse grip, the arms rotate inwards, with L grip they rotate outwards, so you still have that inverted grip for front skill work (as opposed to regular grip for the more common backwards skills on bars) but it’s two different kinds of inversion. Both look more or less the same with the hand position, so it can be almost impossible to tell the one-armed front giants apart if you’re watching a routine live, and while there’s a slight visual difference in the third of these (the Ono), the Healy and Ling look basically identical. The real distinction is in that grip change that the Ling has, where the hand moves slightly to change from L grip to reverse, compared to the Healy, where the hand doesn’t leave the bar.

Rebeca Andrade, Flavia Saraiva, Thais Fidelis e Lorrane dos Santos il Brasile ha possibilità di raccogliere le squadre sul podio?

I love when I receive questions not in English and understand them so I’m gonna leave it in Italian. It asks if this team of Brazilians could reach the podium in a team final, and yeah, they definitely have the talent. Now that Rebeca and Flavia especially have more experience and are maturing into leadership roles, they’ll be even stronger international competitors than they already were, and with the combination of difficulty on this team, if they hit routines, they could absolutely be in the mix for a team medal at worlds. Of course, hitting is key, but this team is super talented and could do big things if everything comes together for them all at once.

How does it work with elite athletes dropping back to level 10? Did Colbi Flory quit elite or can she still try for nationals this summer?

Elite gymnasts who want to drop back to level 10 have to petition to compete at that level, and once they’re granted permission to drop out of elite, they’re no longer considered elite gymnasts and I believe would have to wait a full season to try to qualify elite again if they did decide to go back. Pretty much every single elite in the history of the program who has opted to drop back to level 10 has not returned to elite, so it’s safe to say Colbi has retired from elite and is going to focus on level 10 going forward to NCAA.

What type of impact do you think would occur as a result of judgments paid to plaintiffs in the Larry Nassar case to USA Gymnastics as a whole? For example, layoffs of staff or a scale back on national team members?

I was talking to someone about this recently, and he said the amount of money they could end up paying out could realistically bankrupt them, dismantling the organization as it is so they’d have to basically rebuild it with different people in charge under a new name. I don’t know what this would mean on a program-specific scale…with the women’s program as successful as it has been, those directly involved with the training of the athletes would probably stay involved and I’m sure people would come together to work out where they’d have national team camps and all of that (given that the ranch is now part of USA Gym, if USA Gym goes down, the ranch might not be legally available for the women’s program to use). So the paying of plaintiffs could end up being a massive shock to the system and take them down entirely, but if it doesn’t, things like national team member stipends are basically the least of their concerns. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to their other expenses. They’d probably have some staff reduction, but even that wouldn’t really cover the money they’d end up paying out.

Does UCLA have a chance to win the Super Six?

Yup! I think this year, the three strongest teams are Oklahoma, LSU, and UCLA. UCLA’s problem, though, is that we don’t often get to see exactly how strong they are because they tend to end up counting falls or otherwise large mistakes, and they are also held back a little by weaker vaults than the other two. But if they can count 20 for 20 hit routines, they’re absolutely in the mix. (Oh, hey, I wrote this before NCAA Championships but forgot to include it in a post before they actually happened, but it’s still relevant I guess as a description of how they fit in with other teams.)

Is there something new in the code of points that explains why there were so many hop spins on beam at the Melbourne World Cup?

I don’t think I noticed that many hop spins…Sanne Wevers has hers, but that’s kind of a back-up spin for her when she’s not doing full difficulty and always has been. I can’t think of anyone else who did one, but no, there’s nothing in the new code of points that is going to cause a hop spin trend this quad.

Who was Madison Kocian’s elite coach? If she went to WOGA, why wasn’t it Valeri Liukin?

She trained with Laurent Landi. WOGA has always had different coaching groups for the elite level and level 10. Carly Patterson trained with Yevgeny Marchenko, so she went to Athens with him. Valeri had his group of elites, like Katelyn Ohashi, Rebecca Bross, and obviously his daughter, Nastia Liukin. But Laurent and his wife, Cecile, are another of WOGA’s elite coaches, and then I think there was also Nataliya Marakova and Megan Haught’s elite group (I believe Sabrina Schwab was with them, and I think Irina Alexeeva is now). Once Valeri started his developmental coordinator responsibilities at the ranch in 2013, he started kind of backing away from coaching elites at his gym, with Katelyn pretty much his last and Laurent and Cecile kind of became the biggest elite coaching group at that gym. Madison definitely came up in Laurent’s group…I remember even back in 2010 when Valeri was still WOGA’s head honcho, Laurent was also there at nationals and Madison was his athlete even back then, so he just happened to be her coach rather than Valeri.

With so many L10s and J.O. champions in the country, how come we don’t see them on the elite scene?

Well, pretty much every elite was once a level 10, with the occasional exception who goes right from level 9 to elite (like Alyssa Baumann did back in 2010). But for every former level 10 who ends up qualifying elite, there are about 10 girls who don’t make it. Level 10 has incredibly different requirements from elite, and often girls who are standouts at the J.O. level can’t get the skill and routine level needed for elite. A gymnast can get 9.8s on every level 10 routine that emphasizes her incredible form and technique on her lower-level skills, but the second she attempts to upgrade, that form can sometimes go out the window and she ends up not being as successful. There’s also the fact that level 10 requires about 20 hours of training a week whereas elites train 30+ hours, with some getting closer to 40, and beyond the time commitment, there are financial and other sacrifices elites must make. The majority of level 10s love gymnastics, but also love having a life outside of it, and don’t feel it’s worth it to give up everything for the tiny chance of maybe making a big international team like worlds or the Olympics. I talked to Alex McMurtry at a Nastia Cup once and was like will you please go elite??? and she was basically like no, I would literally hate elite. So even the girls who do have the talent and could probably get the upgrades needed to be successful at the elite level simply just don’t want to do it because they enjoy level 10 and don’t want the added stress, pressure, and physical/mental anguish that comes with training at the elite level. Level 10 is hard enough, but elite is a whoooole different world, and you really have to be a very specific type of person to want to be at that level. And if you DON’T want it, you’re not going to be successful.

Do gymnasts train on podiums at major clubs and at national training centers like the ranch or Round Lake?

No. Podiums are typically only brought out for some domestic meets (most countries don’t even bother with podiums for nationals) and then for some international meets (the bigger ones like worlds or the Olympics and some smaller meets like Gymnix, but lots of other smaller meets like Jesolo don’t bother with podiums). Generally it’s easy enough to get used to being on podium with a couple of training sessions in the days leading up to the competition, so there’s really no need to have them at the national training center.

How do I get involved with coaching or judging?

For coaching, you can look into gyms nearby and see if they’re hiring. You’d have to start out at a lower level, probably recreational or something, which is non-competitive. That helps you learn the basics and figure out how to coach skills and also to find your personal coaching style. Then as you grow as a coach you can move up to coaching lower compulsory levels, and then maybe work your way up to a level 4-5 team coach, and then into optionals. If you competed as a higher-level gymnast in the past, most gyms will hire you as a team coach right off the bat, but if you have no gymnastics experience as a coach or gymnast, you’ll definitely have to start from the bottom. As for judging, you have to become a professional member of USA Gymnastics, assuming you’re in the U.S. (I’m not sure how it works for other countries) and take an exam to get your level 4 rating. From there, I think each year you can test at the next-higher level and eventually work your way up to level 10 and NCAA, but to be an elite judge you pretty much have to be a former elite gymnast for the most part. That’s like an invite-only kind of thing and I’ve heard of women who have been judging NCAA since the 80s attempt to become an elite judge but they’re not accepted, while gymnasts who have competed elite recently like Chellsie Memmel, Anna Li, and Chelsea Davis were all invited by the women’s program to judge.

What is the diet like for an elite gymnast?

Foods like egg whites, chicken, fish, turkey, veggie-rich salads, eggs, oatmeal, nuts, cereal/granola, skim milk, fruits, and yogurt are pretty common. It’s pretty high in lean protein. Most tend to eat on the lighter side during the day before training and in between training sessions, but then will get some carbs in after workouts, maybe with a cup of pasta or rice, or some potato. Gabby Douglas once did an interview where she went through her meals for a day with six hours of training, and that one day was oatmeal and a banana for breakfast, chicken breast and asparagus for lunch, dark chocolate almonds for a snack, salmon, green beans, and pasta for dinner, and gingerbread for dessert. That’s a pretty common day. Most don’t really have restrictions, but will try to keep everything in moderation. They also know enough which foods make them feel good and energized to train at their best, so they will choose foods that fuel them for training.

For connection bonuses does it matter what order the skills are in? Does it have to be in the order stated (like B+C+C)? Can a skill be higher than stated and still get a bonus?

Nope, the order doesn’t matter, for the most part. I think the only time it really comes into play is for the B + E and B + F dismount connection bonuses. For these, the second skill has to be the dismount, so you can’t do an E dance element into a B dismount and get that connection. Obviously also the D (salto) + A (scale) one matters too, since there’s no such thing as doing a scale into an acro skill. And yes, a skill can be higher than stated and still get bonus. Generally, if it says B + D or something, it means B or higher + D or higher. So if you have the C + C dance bonus on beam, you could do C + D and get the tenth for that bonus. Then if you do D + D, that has its own two-tenth bonus, but if you did D + E or E + E you’d still get those two tenths just the same.

Why have some gymnasts like Emily Gaskins, Jazmyn Foberg, Christina Desiderio, and Emily Schild been absent from camp?

Pretty much all of these went to the skills camps late in 2016 and early this year, but the February and March camps were selection camps. Most likely, they didn’t have full routines ready to make them contenders for teams and so sat out to instead focus on getting ready for the later part of the season. Oh, and Christina has a minor ankle injury, from what I’ve heard, and Jazmyn apparently is going to head to Florida next year which I think is a year earlier than planned, so she’s probably done with elite.

Why do gymnasts train L grip skills if it’s harder and doesn’t get any extra points?

L grip does actually get higher difficulty on a few skills…a front giant in reverse grip is a B but a front giant in L grip is a C, and there are some other skills that also separate the two. The only time they’re the same is in one-armed pirouettes, and that’s because pirouettes are capped at an E. If there wasn’t a cap, the reverse grip one-armed pirouettes would probably be E and the L grip one-armed pirouettes would be F, I’m guessing.

Why didn’t Alicia Sacramone ever upgrade her vaults, especially going into the 2008 Olympic Games?

She tried upgrading. She never managed to get an Amanar, and she did train the handspring front layout double full and even submitted it in Beijing as a new skill, but ended up not competing it because her clean Rudi was going to be the better option for an Olympic vault final rather than risking everything on a new skill. Giulia Steingruber made the same decision this summer…she was planning on unveiling a handspring double in Rio to get it named for her and to increase her difficulty in the final, but she didn’t want the first time she competed that vault to be in an Olympic final because if it went wrong, it would take her out of the medals. So she stuck to her Rudi and won bronze. And actually, that was made possible because Hong Un Jong DID attempt a new vault for the first time in the Olympic final and fell, which opened the door for Giulia to get a medal. So playing it safe can work sometimes, and that’s what Alicia’s game plan was for 2008. Honestly, she should’ve won the bronze, so she made the right decision, but the judges didn’t.

Can you help me figure out the D score on Liu Tingting’s new beam?

Sure! I’m using her Doha routine. So she does a punch front pike mount (E), a front handspring (B) to front tuck (D), a switch ring (E) to back handspring (B), a full turn (A), a split leap (B) to side aerial (D) to split jump (B), a front aerial (D) to ring jump (D) to Korbut (B), a switch leap (C) to sheep jump (C), a wolf jump (A) to sissone (A), and a double tuck dismount (D).

So for skills, they count the eight most difficult, which would be EEDDDDDC, or 3.3 points total. She meets all of the credit requirements (dance connection, full turn, acro series, forward and back elements) for another 2 points.

The other tenths come from connections, including 0.2 for the front handspring to front tuck, 0.1 for the switch ring to back handspring, 0.1 for the split leap to side aerial, 0.1 for the side aerial to split jump, and 0.1 for a series bonus for the split leap to side aerial to split jump linked in a mixed connection, 0.2 for the front aerial to ring jump, 0.1 for the ring jump to Korbut, and 0.1 for the front aerial to ring jump to Korbut series, and 0.1 for the switch leap to sheep jump for a total of 1.1 points in connection value.

So 3.3 + 2 + 1.1 = 6.4, which is what she’s going for, though she only got a 6.1 in Doha. My guess is that she got the mount downgraded to a punch front tuck, and then she probably just didn’t get a connection or two based on fluidity, but yeah, either way it’s one of the top D scores of the new quad thus far.

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


16 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. You know, I’d love to read/hear an interview with someone who did go elite, or someone like McMurtry who didn’t but clearly knows the ins and outs of it and has strong opinions on what she would/wouldn’t like. I feel like on a purely logical/abstract level, I’m like, “sure, it’s a really different lifestyle,” but I still can’t quite ENVISION it. I would really love to get as close as possible to being a “fly on the wall” and understand what elite is like, and what kinds of factors make someone say that they love level 10 but would be miserable in elite. Does anyone know if any specific podcast episodes – or interviews on this site – talk to someone and really get into the idea of the huge chasm between “I’m incredibly good at and dedicated to gymnastics” and “I’m an elite”?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know if something like that exists but I do know there are LOTS of level 10s who would probably be great in elite but have said there was no way they wanted to dedicate their entire lives to gymnastics. 20 hours a week for L10 is a HUGE commitment, so don’t get me wrong, it’s not that they’re lacking motivation or dedication…but in L10 they’re able to have more of a normal life outside of the sport. Some elites can make that happen (Jordyn Wieber is a great example) but many elites end up hating the sport because they put so much of themselves into it they have no time for anything else. Most of those gymnasts who wind up hating it end up falling in love with it again if they do NCAA. I’ve talked to a few gymnasts who have been like EVERY ELITE SHOULD DO NCAA and they feel bad for girls who go pro because they miss out on getting that love for the sport back. Some elites do love the workload and everything, which is clear when you see gymnasts like Simone and Aly, but soooo many are unhappy and do it only because their parents or coaches want them to. A good example is Katelyn Ohashi, who did elite because her mom wanted it. She hated it, and it showed. The second she switched to L10 and started going to public school, she basically became a new person.


      • Andrea Li (Anna Li’s sister) could easily qualify elite and do very well. Both mom, dad, sister were olympians… instead, she’s choosing to stay in Level 10 and destroy the field at every meet – that elite life style must really sucks..

        Liked by 1 person

        • 20 hours a week for level 10 seems low to me. I recall 22 hrs of workout a week at level 8, not counting competitions, choreography appointments, etc. Does it not go up from there?


    • Thank you so much!! Some of the stuff I’m asked, I actually am not really sure, so I end up learning a lot doing all of the research for everything so it’s like a win/win! 🙂


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