It’s time for the 157th 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.
Since the Final Five was the final FIVE, how are the upcoming team competitions going to look at worlds and the Olympics? How many per team?
In 2018 and 2019, it will be five per team at world championships, and the Olympic Games will have four per team. Petition to call the 2020 U.S. team the First Four. 🙂
Why is there a new rule that states gymnasts must complete their routines within 30 seconds of re-mounting the bar after a fall? It seems like this would be a problem if a gymnast fell early in a routine. Does this apply to uneven bars as well, or just high bar?
They don’t have to finish their routines within 30 seconds of re-mounting. They have to re-mount within 30 seconds. That means they have 30 seconds from the moment they fell to get up, re-chalk, take a breath, stretch, get mentally back into the game, or do whatever they need to do to recover from that fall before starting again. Once they re-mount after a fall, the routine length is the routine length, and tbh, many routines from start to finish don’t even take 30 seconds, so even if there was a rule that said they had to finish within 30, they probably would. But no, the rule is more about not letting them fall and then take a few hours to get a drink of water, go the bathroom, cry, order Dominos, watch Titanic, and THEN get back on. It gives them an appropriate amount of time to recover but also limits them from taking an overwhelmingly big break so that the next girl doesn’t have to wait forever to go up for their turn and the rotation can still finish in a timely manner.
Do you know why the double wolf turn has the same value on beam and floor?
Nope…who can reason with the women’s technical committee, am I right? It’s easier to just accept everything and not try to make sense of arbitrary skill values, especially when they change from quad to quad.
Why didn’t Amy Tinkler compete floor at the American Cup?
I didn’t see her warm it up at all in the warm-up period prior to the meet, so I was kind of wondering if she was going to skip it, and had my questions answered when she said after the meet that she wasn’t ready to come back on floor and didn’t want to risk injury by going out there and doing a routine that she wasn’t fully prepared for. She probably came into the American Cup with the expectation that she’d do the all-around (because otherwise, why go to an all-around competition?) but then in her training that week, or at some point after podium training, decided that it probably wouldn’t be in her best interest to go for it based on how it looked in training.
What type of gymnast do you think the new code will favor?
I think it could realistically favor a few different types…the power gymnasts with big skills are still going to be rewarded, but there’s also lots of opportunities for gymnasts to get creative with unique sequences on beam that will reward fluidity and grace in movement. I think in any open-ended code, the gymnasts with the more difficult skills are going to be the ones who have an edge on the rest of the competition, especially since nothing really in the most recent code made any real major changes in terms of valuing the execution higher or anything, and we’ve already seen the D score win out over the E score a few times so far this year…but I think the change I’ve seen the most that will reward more creative than power skill chuckers is what’s happening with beam. Liu Tingting has one of the best beam routines I’ve seen this season, and she has no real big skills…her 8 skills that count are all solid enough D or E skills, but a bulk of her D score comes from connections. She has a total of 17 skills in her routine, which is insane, and most of them are A and B skills that help her reach various CV bonuses through her many thousands of awesome and unique connections.
Do other competitions have a reputation for ‘gifting’ scores like the American Cup judges do?
Pretty much every single competition in the history of the world has problems with scoring. So far this year, the Reykjavik International Games, Nadia Comaneci Invitational, WOGA Classic, Russian Champs, Greek Champs, Stuttgart World Cup, British Champs, Zakharova Cup, Spanish Cup, and Jesolo (among probably many others I haven’t seen) have all had crack scoring on many routines. People get all excited about how the American judges ‘gift’ scores but the American Cup isn’t even American judges…it’s panels of international judges, and the Americans aren’t the only ones overscored.
Also, you’ll enjoy the sport much more and will whine less if you just realize that it’s not about overscoring, it’s about correctly ranking gymnasts. Simone Biles could get a 10.0 E score on an Amanar with a step, and it literally doesn’t matter if hers is the best in the bunch. Nothing about the American Cup all-around rankings seemed ‘off’ in any way. Yes, Ragan got some gifts, but so did others, and even without gifts, Ragan still was the correct choice for the all-around title that day. Who cares that Eythora Thorsdottir got an insane E score on beam in Reykjavik? It was still the best beam there. Who cares that Ellie Downie got a 15 on vault at British Champs? It was still the best vault there. Some of the craziest scoring of last quad happened at the Olympic Games, hahaha, so the American Cup should be the least of anyone’s concerns, and yet for some reason this is the one meet that people obsess over.
How come there is never a team event at worlds in the year after the Olympics?
It’s an issue with most countries not having the depth to field full teams. It gives every program some time off to rebuild after tons of retirements and hiatuses following the Olympic Games. In team competition years, countries feel pressured to form a perfect team puzzle using the top gymnasts, but the lack of a team competition in the post-Olympic year can let them send gymnasts who might be strong individual medal contenders but who might not be the perfect fit for a team scenario, so their focus can be on that rather than trying to put together a team that will make the final or get on the podium.
What happened to Nicki Shapiro and Melissa Metcalf of UCLA and Samantha Partyka of Utah?
Nicki retired to pursue other interests, though she’s still involved with the team doing their Snapchat and stuff like that. Melissa also retired, though I’m not sure if it was a medical retirement or something else…but she’s also still with the team. Samantha medically retired due to back injuries.
Can individuals qualify to NCAA regionals or nationals if their teams don’t make it? How does that work?
Yes. They qualify to regional championships based on their season ranking calculated by RQS, just like the teams also qualify to regionals in that way. To qualify to nationals, individuals have to place either in the top two all-around at each regional championships (so a total of 12 individual all-arounders qualify to nationals) OR they can qualify as a specialist if they win the event title at regionals (like Elizabeth Price won bars at her regional, so she gets to go to nationals as a specialist, meaning she could only compete on bars).
What happened to Ekaterina Sokova of Russia?
So this is kind of sad. Sokova just made a video about how she was so injured all the time but none of her coaches or team staff believed her, telling her it was all in her mind and that she was being a baby. So she kept training through the pain and it messed her up so bad, she had to have a hip replacement this past December. She had just turned 16. She can’t physically do gymnastics anymore, but said with everything she went through, she wouldn’t even if she could. She was depressed for a very long time about this, but now seems to be finding herself again in other ways. She has a bizarre/hilarious YouTube channel where she does things like hauls and other vlog-type videos the kids do, including one super weird one where she eats an ungodly amount of junk food for some reason. It’s a shame all of this happened, and she was actually my dark horse for last year’s Olympic team until she got injured, because her floor had so much potential. I hope if anything, her story is at least an eye-opener for other gymnasts who might be putting their health at risk by listening to their coaches instead of their bodies.
First Aimee Boorman leaves Simone Biles. Then Mihai Brestyan leaves Aly Raisman. Then Riley McCusker has a meltdown at American Cup. Should I be worried about USA Gymnastics?
No. No one’s ‘leaving’ anyone. Coaches have lives beyond their gymnasts, and sometimes shockingly make decisions based on their own personal or professional lives rather than on their gymnasts’ careers. Aimee explicitly said that she had her dream career opportunity, and that now it’s her husband’s turn, and that they moved for him. Mihai has been after a larger-scale national team position for years, because that’s his goal, and even though it means ‘leaving’ Aly, he’s taking on a role that he’s been dying to add to his resume. Coaches are people too, and I know it seems to some people like they’re angrily stomping on their gymnasts and kicking them aside like stray dogs, but actually, mind-blowingly, sometimes not everything in life is about gymnastics.
As for the U.S., things are fine. It’s the post-Olympic year, they had close to 15 of their top elites either retire or move on to NCAA after 2016, and they’re still miles ahead of any other team on the planet. I think they’re gonna be just fine. Remember that in the spring of 2009, we didn’t even know who Kyla Ross, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney were because they hadn’t yet qualified elite, and they went on to destroy everyone at the Olympics three years later. Cool your jets.
If Larisa Iordache had hit her 7.2 beam D score the way she hit her 6.5, if Stefania Stanila had stayed on beam, and if Stanila and Paula Tudorache had scored on bars the way they had in qualifications, could they have taken silver in 2014?
I mean, yeah? And if Russia hadn’t counted a fall on beam or floor, they could’ve taken silver. And if the U.S. had fallen seven times, China could’ve taken gold. Anything could’ve happened, but gymnastics is about hitting when it counts, not coulda, woulda, shoulda hypotheticals.
Do you know if it’s possible for someone who doesn’t have anything to do with gymnastics to volunteer at Tokyo 2020?
Yup! Most of the volunteers in Rio had nothing to do with gymnastics. But most volunteers they accept tend to be local and there’s a whole training period and process that requires them to be on-site for a good deal of time, generally, so gymnastics experience aside, you might want to be in/near Tokyo. Most of the volunteers I met at the test event in Rio were just doing it because it was fun, not because they had any connection to any sport…and most of their jobs were like, helping with credential sign-in, guiding people around the arena area, etc. Nothing that requires even the most basic understanding of gymnastics. But I don’t think you can pick the sport you volunteer for at the Olympics…I think you can put in the type of job you want to be doing or that you’d be best suited for, but I’m pretty sure they generally place people based on their needs. It’s kind of a crap shoot.
You can also look into volunteering for worlds each year. That’s an easier gig to get because it’s just gym fans or people related to gymnastics, whereas Olympic volunteers are literally everyone who has ever had an interest in the Olympics. This year, Montreal is looking for volunteers, and also it might be easier to get an Olympic volunteer spot if you have experience within the sport at the world level. Also, if you’re based in the U.S., you can volunteer at classics and nationals every year.
Annie LeBlanc, one of the Bratayley family, got lots of gifts from Nike in what is a kind of brand deal for the family. Does this affect her NCAA eligibility? She’s only 12 and a level 9.
Yup. 100% affects it. She gets gifts from Nike and the family pimps them out on YouTube. That’s an endorsement and she will not be eligible for NCAA should she ever get to that level.
Due to injury, some college teams only put up five girls on an event. It seems there are a lot on the sidelines who don’t compete…why don’t they use someone else, even if the score would be lower?
I’m not sure. You’d think they’d rather have it in place as a safety. Some teams just don’t have anyone extra doing that event, so that sometimes is the case…like when Stanford sometimes has only five up on vault, it’s because all of their vault options are injured and literally no one else can vault. But there are a few times where schools have seven or eight gymnasts training an event, and they’ll still only put up five and hope for the best. Even if someone does some basic routine, I’d rather have that in my lineup getting a 9 or something in case someone in that lineup of five gets injured at the start of a routine and gets like, a 4.
When a gymnasts falls, do they get the one-point deduction as well as losing the skill from the D score for not completing it? Why doesn’t a gymnast attempt the skill again when they re-mount the apparatus?
It depends on the skill and whether the skill was completed. There are guidelines for each event/skill, but like, if someone catches a release and then falls, I think they’d consider the skill completed and count it into the D score, but then take off the one-point deduction for the fall. But in instances where the skill isn’t considered completed, they don’t get any skill value for it, and they’d also get the one-point deduction.
What’s the name of the release Yao Jinnan does on bars at worlds in 2013? What is it worth? Why doesn’t anyone do it anymore?
That’s the Mo salto, which is a front giant into a front tuck over the bar and then caught in an inverse grip on the other side. No one does it because it’s insanely difficult, it murders your shoulders (front giant skills in general are rare, let alone ones that force you to catch your full body weight in an inverse grip), and there are so many E score deductions that it’s barely worth it.
Why do athletes do B acro out of passes if it’s only worth one tenth? They could up it to a C to get more connection bonus or stay at an A to keep it cleaner and less risky.
I’ve wondered that myself, like with Aly Raisman’s front layout out of her double arabian. A front tuck out of that would’ve been more than sufficient, the layout adds no extra value, but alas. It could just be that she prefers the layout position…I don’t know why, but crazier things have happened. She does get a ton of power out of the double arabian, so maybe it was too much power for the tuck and she couldn’t really control the landing so the layout made more sense because she could use it to slow herself down a bit and land well? And maybe she tried to go for a higher C skill to punch out of but didn’t have quite enough power for it and so the B was just her happy middle ground.
What’s the record for most perfect 10s in an NCAA season and career?
Unfortunately I don’t have all of the data to figure this out. Every school tracks its own records, but there’s no big database of every 10 ever, and most records of results don’t go back far enough to get a complete look. Jamie Dantzscher’s 28 career 10s is UCLA’s record, which UCLA has listed on their website, but not every school has this info readily available online. I think the SID tracks records like these, and they’re generally included in the media stats guides, but yeah, too bad they don’t just have lists of all of their records online.
Is touching the beam and hanging on, but not falling off, less deduction than a fall?
A grasp of the beam to avoid falling is 0.5, but falling down onto the beam (like if you land a layout stepout on your knees or fall onto the beam and hug it and then dramatically swing under or something like that) or falling off of the beam is a full point.
What determines whether an NCAA program is division I, II, or III? If a DIII program suddenly starts performing above all expectations will they move up to DII for the next season?
Divisions have nothing to do with gymnastics. NCAA divisions separate teams in all collegiate sports, and tend to be based more on the size of the athletic program than on anything specific to any sport. Large universities with huge athletics budgets and tons of teams are Division I, smaller universities and large colleges with a good amount of money are Division II, and smaller colleges without a big emphasis on athletics in general and that tend to have sports programs only for athletes who compete more for fun are Division III. Programs can change divisions, and in gymnastics Centenary was once a D1 but is now D3 to better reflect their athletic department, but it doesn’t have to do with how well a team performs, which is why you have several D2 and D3 schools in gymnastics regularly outperforming D1 schools like Alaska.
Are there any Olympic gymnasts who have gone on to have Olympic success in other sports?
Lais Souza of Brazil was an Olympic gymnast who was expected to make her country’s Olympic team for aerial skiing, though that dream was cut short when she was paralyzed while training in the weeks leading up to Sochi. Alex Croak of Australia was a gymnast at the 2000 Olympics and then made Australia’s diving team for the 2008 Olympics. Svetlana Feofanova, Russian alternate in 1996, was a silver medalist in pole vault at the 2004 Olympics.
Aside from Olympic success in other sports, a few Olympic gymnasts have gone on to sports like diving, aerial skiing, and pole vaulting not at the Olympic level, but at highly competitive levels, like Amy Chow diving at Stanford.
One of the best pieces of gymnastics I’ve ever seen was Dominique Dawes’ floor pass that rebounded and was essentially ‘a pass and a half.’ Why does no one do this anymore?
It’s basically just not worth anything anymore. A gymnast could do a rebound into a subsequent pass, but like, say you do a triple full to punch front tuck to roundoff back handspring to double tuck…there’s nothing of value in doing a punch front to roundoff, so why do them as one conjoined pass when you can take a breath after your triple full to punch front, do some choreo, and then do the roundoff back handspring into the double tuck? If it was given a connection value in the code, we’d see it all the time, but if it’s not worth anything, it’s not worth doing.
Did a large number of gymnasts suddenly start competing loso mounts on beam?
Yup! A good majority of difficult mounts got skill value upgrades in the 2017-2020 code of points, so there’s been a major mount upgrade trend which I love. Lots of loso mounts, back handsprings, and other more acrobatic-style mounts that we may not have seen as often in recent years. Oh, and Oksana Chusovitina is even training a front layout mount, which would be so cool to see in competition. I love the new trend! And gymnasts love it as well I think because now they can count a highly-valued mount (in addition to their dismount) into their eight skills, leaving them with only six they need to get done actually within the bulk of their routines.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins