You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

It’s time for the 161st 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.

Who do you think one of the greatest female gymnasts of all time was? Someone you felt embodied what gymnastics was overall?

This is a tough question because I don’t think there’s any one gymnast who embodies every single thing that gymnastics is. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, even the greatest of all time in terms of medal count or talent. It’s also hard to compare across different generations, because if you match up Simone Biles — easily one of the greatest gymnasts of all time — against gymnasts like Larisa Latynina, Vera Caslavska, and Nadia Comaneci — also considered the greatest of all time — you’d have Simone wiping the floor with them in terms of her ability, making it the least fair fight ever, while at the same time those three brought this presentation and flair and drama to their performances that Simone doesn’t have, and that we don’t really see at all in the sport anymore. It’s almost impossible to compare across generations to come up with an absolute ‘greatest of all time’ because the sport is constantly changing. My middle ground is probably Lilia Podkopayeva. I think she probably best embodied everything about gymnastics that makes it what it is, and was kind of a link between the sport as it once was and the sport as it is today. There are a few other gymnasts in her generation who also fit that mold, but for me, Lilia is it.

What happened to Natasha Kelly? Did she get injured, or wasn’t able to upgrade? Hit her peak and moved on to college?

Natasha was generally someone who was often dealing with injury. It was always something, and it ended up affecting her career quite a lot. In 2007, Natasha was dealing with heel injuries, and had a rough performance at nationals, placing 10th and not making the worlds team. That fall, she left her coaches at Stars for another Houston gym, Cypress, continued training up to 2008 nationals, but then retired shortly before the meet, probably because she knew she wasn’t going to be competitive enough for a team spot. Instead, she went on to Oklahoma, competed for two seasons, was injured almost constantly, and then medically retired just before the 2012 season started.

How is the Cojocar not an F? Is the FIG legit trying to tell us it’s the same as a tuck full-in? Same for full-in pike on beam being rated easier than a Silivas on floor.

I say this all the time but there is literally no logic in assigning skill values. A back 3½ on floor, which no one does, has the same difficulty value as a double layout, which everyone does. Clearly if no one can do one skill, it should not be rated the same as a skill most elites can do! The same goes for the Cojocar…literally every elite can bust out a full-in, but no one ever does a front 2½. Like, yes, an E is a logical step up from the front double full at a D, but it still makes no sense when you compare it to other skills with the same difficulty value.

Why do some gymnasts like Rebeca Andrade not train two vaults when they could actually be world contenders? Does it really require that much effort that it could hurt their all-around performances?

A majority of gymnasts find it easier to stick with four events rather than adding a second vault. If you can do it without it affecting your other routines, like Simone Biles could, great! But many don’t want to sacrifice anything from their all-around performances if all-around is the greatest goal. For someone like Rebeca, who has dealt with so many lower extremity issues, that second vault could really end up hurting her, literally and in terms of her all-around performance, so since all-around is a greater goal for her, she doesn’t feel the need to add a second vault just on the off-chance of medaling. Maybe if the vault field was weaker, which it could be this year…but last quad when it was practically impossible to get on the podium without an Amanar and Cheng combination (or without being Simone), she would’ve needed to not only add a second vault, but to add a second vault that was way harder than her first vault, which is like…no. Simone as a top all-arounder with two vaults difficult enough to medal in a tough field really is an anomaly.

I totally believe MyKayla Skinner is capable of making a run for worlds this year, but would she do it? Would she have to take time off from NCAA?

Yeah, she could and I think wants to do it based on what I’ve heard. I think we’ll see her at least try. She’d have to take the fall off from school, but would obviously still be training gymnastics if she’s going to worlds, so she could easily step right into the spring season even if it would throw her academic plan off a bit. In 2011, Mackenzie Caquatto finished up her freshman year at Florida and then went back to elite for the summer in an attempt to make the worlds team, which she was in the running for until she got injured on her beam dismount at camp. MyKayla now has a much greater chance than Mackenzie did back then, so it would absolutely be worth it for her to go back to elite training after the NCAA season ends, take some time away from school in the fall, and then return in the spring.

When is the next of your gymnastics books coming out? I want to see how Amalia does in the all-around!

Probably this summer at some point! I’m hoping to have it out before the craziness that will be worlds but if I have publishing issues like I did last year, it’ll probably happen after worlds.

If leg separations are frowned upon on bars, how come Andreea Raducan and others split their legs during giants?

Giants can be completed either with the legs together or with the legs in a straddle. Since the straddle giant is a legitimate skill, it’s not considered leg separation even though the legs are apart. The legs being apart is the correct position for a straddle, so there wouldn’t be any deductions there.

What has Gabby Douglas been doing with her life outside of gymnastics?

She has lots of endorsement deals and contracts and public appearance commitments and things like that, and is probably also just taking time off to enjoy herself and have a break from training 24/7 the way she did in elite. She seems to travel a good amount, so I’m hoping she’s getting to spend time with family and friends away from her career until she figures out what she’s going to do next.

Why do people say China was underscored in Rio? From a judge’s perspective I thought a lot of their flaws were the same as other countries, but more pronounced, though I do agree they were underscored on beam.

I think that while yes, they did have some flaws like everyone else, their flaws were definitely hit heavier than other countries. But that aside, Bruno Grandi also made some kind of comment about how their style of gymnastics isn’t really preferred and I don’t remember specifics but there was a whole thing with how the FIG judges simply just don’t like their gymnastics and so they were judged more harshly. I thought coming into the first subdivision, they were definitely also at a disadvantage because of that, but I thought for sure we’d see higher E scores from some of the bar routines (like Fan Yilin’s) especially when later in the day we got crazy high E scores on bars from girls like Aly Raisman.

Can gymnasts get skills named at world cups or only at world championships?

WAG gymnasts can only get skills named at worlds or the Olympics, but MAG gymnasts can submit skills and get them named at the world cups.

Do you know if it’s common for a coach to tell an elite gymnast to lose weight?

Not really. I mean, there probably are some coaches who do it in a nasty way, and that used to be common back in the day, but now I think coaches are more respectful for the most part. Sometimes a gymnast’s weight could legitimately come into the conversation if it’s affecting her performance. Most gymnasts have ‘competition weight’ or what we’d call being in competition shape, which is when they’re at peak fitness for big competitions like worlds or the Olympics. Sometimes when gymnasts gain weight or otherwise lose their higher levels of fitness in the off-season, the coach will have to bring it up because it might not be safe to be doing a high level of skills at a size bigger than they’re used to, so when they go back into season from hiatus, there might be a conversation about ‘getting back in shape’ or something (not that they’re necessarily out of shape, but they just might not be in peak shape). If a gymnast begins gaining weight because she’s growing and her body is changing, that also becomes a conversation, but I think from what I’ve heard, for the most part coaches know how to bring this up in a way that isn’t like, hurtful or to shame the gymnast. They might suggest working with a nutritionist or personal trainer, not necessarily to lose weight (especially if the additional weight is a normal part of growing up), but to maintain where they are or to better optimize their bodies for what they’ll need to be doing in the gym or while competing. Again, there are always going to be those coaches who are straight-up dicks and with weight a touchy subject, sometimes coaches don’t even have to say anything and it’s implied like McKayla Maroney said about the coaches watching the gymnasts eat at the ranch, but I think for the most part the culture is now more about respect.

If a gymnast today tried to connect two tumbling passes, will it be considered one tumbling pass or two? Is this not allowed in the code?

It would be considered two passes, unless they did something really insane (and probably physically impossible) that would earn connection bonus. Most of the back-to-back passes back in the day were typically one big pass, and then simpler skills connected out of it, and that was fine because it worked within the parameters of that code. Today, if a gymnast did a roundoff back handspring double tuck pass straight into a roundoff back handspring double pike, for example, it’d be worth nothing because there’s no value in doing a double tuck into the roundoff back handspring that would come before the double pike. You’re better off doing the double tuck pass, taking a breath or dancing or something, and then doing the double pike pass. But if a gymnast did something like a roundoff back handspring double tuck to immediate front layout full to Rudi to double pike, she’d probably die, but it would be worth a nice connection bonus and would technically be one single pass.

We have seen an increase in ‘real’ beam mounts this quad, but not much variance in bars mounts. What would it take to see gymnasts go for bigger mounts on bars? Will the American women step up their beam mount game or play it safe?

They’d probably need to up the value of the bars mounts in the code just like they did with the beam mounts this quad. That’s really the only reason girls are upgrading them…when they’re worth more, it’s more worth competing. Some U.S. women might upgrade their mounts, but who knows? It’s not really ‘playing it safe’ because, yes, they’re getting on the beam without any risk of falling, but they still have to count seven highly-valued non-dismount skills if they want high D scores. The girls who do big mounts count one as a mount and six on the beam, and the girls who do simple mounts count seven big skills on the beam. Whether a gymnast chooses to take a risk on a loso mount or she does a simple mount but competes a standing full, neither is playing it safe.

Do you think there’s a way to get GK Elite to make replicas of the U.S. national team leos?

Probably not…sometimes they’ll make training leo replicas of the bigger national team leos, but I think the whole deal is that those leos are specifically for the national team which is an honor and so getting one of those national team leos is like, reserved for the girls who make the team. Once every now and then you’ll see one of the designs replicated in some way, and I remember Alyona Shchennikova randomly had a 2012 Olympic team finals leo at one point? But yeah, mostly, those leos are specific to the national team and GK probably knows replicas would fly off the shelves, but I think there’s some sort of branding/copyright issue involved with reproduction which is why we don’t see them.

Do you think Kyla Ross kind of got screwed over in elite not being able to adjust the bars height?

Yeah. I don’t know what the real story is there, because I’ve heard multiple stories…that she wanted to change them but no one would let her, that she didn’t want to change them, that the FIG wouldn’t approve it…I know some taller gymnasts did get the bars raised for them in elite, so I know it was definitely an option, but I still haven’t heard the whole ‘true story’ about why they didn’t do it, so I’ll just say yes, she got screwed over for not adjusting the bars, but who screwed her over? No clue.

Do you have a full time job outside of doing gymnastics coverage? How do you manage to stay so on top of the gym world?

Yup! I work in legal marketing, doing social media and branding for a large global law firm (I’m based in our NYC office). Pretty much all of my spare time is dedicated to gymnastics coverage, so yeah, I work a lot between my full-time job and my gymnastics job (which is a full-time job in its own). But I love it and I apparently love working all the time. I actually had to start taking ballet classes at night so I wouldn’t go straight home and start working. :-p So now I have a better balance but I do spend a loooot of time on the site and researching gym happenings. Really, though, when I was a full-time student I also had a full-time job, and when I graduated from college I felt like…WHAT DO I DO WITH MY NON-WORK TIME!? when I wasn’t working. I started this site a few months after graduating from college so in a way it kind of replaced school…except it’s way more fun than writing 20 page papers and studying.

I remember McKayla Maroney talking about doing a double back on vault. What would that have been worth? Have any gymnasts ever done it?

Yes, she was talking about a Yurchenko double back. No female gymnasts have competed it, but Yurchenko double backs (tucked and piked) exist in MAG. A Yurchenko double tuck is a 5.2 and a double pike is a 5.6 in MAG, so considering an Amanar is a 5.2 in MAG which is the same as the Yurchenko double tuck, we can probably assume that a Yurchenko double tuck in WAG would be about a 5.8 whereas the double pike would be about a 6.2? Though honestly I’d put them both a little higher…maybe a 6.0 and a 6.4.

Do you think Maggie Nichols had the best season of any college gymnast? Just purely score-wise. Neither Bridget Sloan nor Courtney Kupets got a 39.925 or had an RQS as high as Maggie’s.

She had a really good season, but due to injury only limiting her to all-around for half of the season and then having that fall at NCAAs, it wasn’t literally the best season ever. If anyone, MyKayla Skinner actually had the best season this year because she did the all-around at every single meet with the highest level of difficulty in the country and never fell once. If you want to base it purely score-wise, you’d have to include Karen Lichey’s perfect 40, in which case based on score alone, she had the greatest meet ever, but I do think Maggie could one day also get a perfect 40.

Does Alex McMurtry have a second vault? This specialist year is her best shot at worlds.

She does not. She also isn’t elite, so she has no shot at worlds unless she qualifies elite after NCAA nationals. To make event finals with a DTY, she’d probably need a pretty difficult second vault…most of the gymnasts who have made it to finals in recent years with a DTY have had a Rudi or Lopez for the second one. The gymnasts who have been topping the vault podiums so far this season have two-vault difficulty combinations that total 10.6 or higher (Wang Yan’s 11.4 combo is the highest). To match this top group, she’d need a second vault of at least 5.2 in difficulty to go along with her DTY, meaning she’d need something like a Lopez or Tsuk 1½ at the very least, and that’s just to make finals, not to medal. Some vaulters right now have a DTY and tsuk full (4.8) combo, but they’d be lucky to make the vault final at all, let alone get on the podium. Even with how nice Alex’s DTY is, it’s not really going to be super competitive in a world vault final, and there’s no way Valeri Liukin would take her unless she’s able to contend with those at the top of the field.

What do you mean when you say ‘technique’ as opposed to form and execution?

Technique is basically the fundamentals, like good basics and body position and all of the little things she learns early on that act as the building blocks. As gymnasts move up in the levels, the ones with strong technique have that translate into their bigger skills, whereas those who move up with poor foundations will keep those bad habits going forward into the higher levels. Technique is different than form…a gymnast with perfect technique on a layout can still perform a skill incorrectly with mistakes and have form errors. And execution is kind of a combination of both technique and form…technical errors in skills are deducted as are form errors, so a gymnast with excellent technique who has several mistakes and form errors would have fewer deductions than a gymnast with poor technique and only one or two mistakes/form errors. Strong technique also ensures longevity by preventing injury, building strength and flexibility, and refining movement, so it’s not just about having nice lines or a good aesthetic basis, but a gymnast with good technique is going to be able to better perform higher-level skills without risking injury.

Why so much hate towards MyKayla Skinner? The way some people on the gymternet dislike her is horrendous. You’d think she committed a heinous crime. Do you think she has been cheated of some individual awards at times simply because people don’t like her attitude or personality?

It’s so bizarre. Honestly, I think people don’t like her in general because her attitude on social media is very much like this over-confident “I’m the best” sort of thing that comes off super cocky and people want to drag her down. Plenty of male athletes are like that, though, and get very little of the hate MyKayla does, so it’s kind of sexist actually. I think if people knew her off social media they’d get a very different impression of her, though, and most of the time her attitude and poor sportsmanship on twitter aren’t even coming from her…it’s all retweets and things like that.

I’ve been around MyKayla in person for about four years now and I’ve never once heard her talk disrespectfully about other athletes. Even after Olympic Trials, where she had the biggest disappointment of her career and actually legitimately could have had an Olympic team spot had someone else been making the decisions, she was nothing but gracious…and then she got on her phone and started retweeting nonstop about how she should’ve made the team. People are definitely put off by that, especially when what she retweets isn’t exactly appropriate (like someone photoshopping her face over Gabby Douglas’s face in a picture) but honestly she herself hasn’t really said anything? It’s all just retweets, so I’m imagining she gets home from a meet and sees dozens of messages of support and just goes through and retweets them all without really thinking about what she’s doing. Plenty of people don’t think about their actions so she’s not alone in that, but when you’re in a more public position, you kind of have to think about it so someone needs to sit her down and be like “stop.”

The thing is, though, other athletes — including some gymnasts — have said or written things that have been inappropriate or offensive, but because people don’t already dislike these gymnasts, they all get excused, but with MyKayla it’s like people seek out reasons to hate her and it’s like, oh, inappropriate retweet? Screencap it and drag her for it for the next three years! It’s so insane and is such a double standard.

I get not liking her for coming off as cocky (even though again she’s very different in person). That’s totally valid. She’s done some stuff that warrants not liking her. But in any other sport, people can be both cocky and strong athletes and any award they’re up for is generally based solely on what they did in the sport, not on their attitudes. There are some terrible people out there who have done far worse than MyKayla could ever dream of doing and these people get awards all the time, so turning MyKayla down for something like PAC 12 Gymnast of the Year when she literally had one of the best seasons ever in collegiate gymnastics (no one else has competed her combined level of difficulty all season long with 11 weeks of all-around performances in a row and no falls/big mistakes) is silly to me. Again, she’s not going to win any Best Human Being awards any time soon for the attitude she has on social media, but what that has to do with her gymnastics is beyond me.

Personally, I’ve been a fan of her gymnastics for a long time, even though I’m not as much of a fan of her as a person because I tend to separate what an athlete does in the gym with what an athlete is like in real life (the same goes for people with other talents and in other sorts of jobs…I can respect what someone does on the field or in a boardroom or with a guitar, but still think they’re trash people in every other aspect in life). But even so, I think the hate she gets goes far beyond what she deserves. She hasn’t killed anyone or run a dog-fighting ring or even said anything really mean about anyone. Seeing some of her awkwardly inappropriate retweets got annoying, so I unfollowed her. Simple as that. If you don’t like what someone’s saying or retweeting, there’s no need to follow them, and yet the people who dislike her not only follow her, but like, live for social media stalking her so they can immediately screencap anything she says that can be considered rude or whatever. *eye roll* Get a hobby.

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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45 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Thoughts about the Mykayla Skinner hate: on top of all that you mentioned, I think that being a Ute is another strike against her. I don’t understand the Utah-hate in the gymternet, but (from what I’ve seen) they are easily the most disliked gym team in the country. I get having an issue with some of the poor sportsmanlike behavior of their fans, but the team can’t really do anything about how the fans act. I don’t understand hating a group of 18 to 22-year-olds for something a rabid Ute fan did at a meet.

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    • Oh totally. Utah has been pretty much hated in NCAA forever for some reason? I don’t even know why. I started watching NCAA probably in 2008 or so and yeah, their fans aren’t the best, but I don’t see why the team itself gets so much hate. MyKayla going to Utah definitely added to her hate, which I should’ve mentioned also exists because her religious and political leanings are far right whereas most gymternet people tend to be super left…but even so, it’s not like she’s EVER posting about politics?? Like, she seems to just be more…simple?…in that she probably got all of her political beliefs from her parents/church but isn’t actually a political person and doesn’t give a crap about any of that. Like, if she was leading a charge against affordable healthcare or something, hate her for it, but she pretty much never talks about any of that but because she’s a Mormon conservative people just automatically hate her for that reason which is kind of insane. Anyway, the hate I’ve seen towards MyKayla is far greater than any hate I’ve seen her given to anyone else, so people need to stop throwing stones in glass houses or whatever the saying is.

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    • She’s also used the term “gay” as an insult multiple times on Snapchat and other social media. Do I think she’s a horrible person? No. If anything just a little uneducated about some things.

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      • I can’t speak for those that “hate” upon her on social media. But, from what little I know of her, I have an extreme dislike of her and have no respect for her as a person. As a gay guy, she has said things that are hurtful to me and my friends and while she may not be “political”, she has repeatedly entered the realm of social issues that strongly affect local and national politics. She is entitled to her opinion. But, she is also entitled to the backlash generated by putting those opinions out there on a national/international social media platform. Many gymnasts and professional athletes successfully keep their opinions to themselves for just that reason.

        With that said, some of the “hate” directed at her is unwarranted.

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  2. Sorry Lauren I accidentally sent you a message and I meant to leave a comment! Silly me! Anyways, here is my comment:

    I agree with you Lauren about trying to separate MyKayla The Person from Mykayla The Gymast… but there are a fair number of people in the Gymternet who simply find her gymnastics unappealing (I’m one of them). I personally have no desire to watch someone chuck huge skills with dismal form and get rewarded (I feel the same way about the terrible/dangerous Produnova’s being thrown).

    I’m also not a huge fan of her dance elements on floor – SHE is not ‘ugly’, but the combination of her choreo and execution are. However, I will be the first to admit that she has improved a lot since the beginning of the 2012-2016 quad and has a TON to offer as a vault specialist (and backup sold score on floor).

    If she could just fix the one-armed block on the vault table, she’d probably contend against Simone and the other top vaulters of the world.

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    • Oh, it’s totally valid to find her gymnastics unappealing. I find plenty of gymnasts unappealing to watch, including MyKayla with many of her skills, but what I respect about MyKayla is that she’s super ballsy and always makes things exciting (also most of her skills have cleaned up a ton since getting to the NCAA level). But yeah, it’s totally okay to not be a fan of her gymnastics, but for some reason people think not liking her gymnastics is a reason to hate her as a person which is like…what?!

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  3. I agree with the Mykayla Skinner thing, everyone just seems to want to find reasons to hate her. It reminds me of the Gabby situation where people would freak out over the smallest things like her hairstyle. That said, I think it was pretty unfair of her not to win Pac 12 Gymnast or even Freshman because she honestly deserved it and I’m not sure what they were thinking.

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  4. I think MyKayla is a normal adolescent and it’s not a huge deal that she makes questionable social media choices, but do you think it’s a little weird that the adults in her life haven’t suggested she tone it down, for her own sake?

    I’ve also heard that perhaps she split the vote between freshman of the year and gymnast of the year which is why she didn’t win either. Interesting theory.

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    • It’s funny because I think the adults in her life are more immature and petty than she is? Like her dad recently apparently went on youtube to bash Victoria Moors because MyKayla’s Moors was better than hers. Her mom and sisters have also made comments that haven’t really been cute…so like, growing up the baby in a house hold where everyone is telling you YOU’RE THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER AND EVERYONE ELSE SUCKS!!! had to get her to this point of being like, the most self-confident person ever, LOL. I wish I had even 1/8 of her give-no-shits attitude and confidence and entitlement. But yeah, that would make sense re: the freshman vs gymnast of the year thing.

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      • There is no doubt that Mykayla doesn’t deserve half the hate she gets in terms of her gymnastics, but from what I’ve seen and heard she is rather the most tone deaf person or most rude. She’s not an idiot. I doubt she genuinely thought that no one would get mad if she retweeted something saying that she should be on the team instead of Gabby. And when she does so with a picture of her face photoshopped over Gabbys, it then becomes obvious that she wasn’t retweeting it because of praise people were giving her, she was retweeting it because she thought she should’ve been on the team over someone else. While I think she did deserve it more than Gabby, as a 19/20 year old you’re more than old enough to at least control what you post online. If she went home and cried and screamed for a few hours than fine, but don’t post it online, especially when you have popularity of her kind. When in all honesty if Martha didn’t pick Gabby, she probably would’ve picked Ashton (because Gabby got picked because of Bars) so Mykayla probably would’ve still been an alternate if you removed Gabby. Then there were her comments on social media of a) “so gay it’s disgusting” and b) her use of the n word, which makes her look homophobic and slightly racist, and I think that’s where she gets her hate for being a white Mormon conservative. Because that is like the most likely demographics to be homophobic and racist. Her father bashing Victoria Moors, someone he doesn’t even know, because Mykaylas was better is absolutely ridiculous. I mean he’s basically shaming Moors for going to worlds which is just a really stupid move. So when you consider her (abundant) missteps on social media, and the fact that none of them are accidental, I can easily see why people think she’s a terrible person.

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  5. I don’t love Skinner’s gymnastics, but here I am writing this from my couch and I can’t even do a cartwheel, so yeah. Anyway, every interview I’ve seen with her, she absolutely seems very gracious, kind, and likable. I do think that, like everyone else typing from behind a computer/phone, sometimes what we say from behind the screen reflects more of our true personalities than what we say in person. A lot of people are willing to post/retweet/comment what they are really thinking/feeling than what they are willing to say out loud. Which is probably unfortunate in general, because I feel like if it’s not something you’re willing to say to someone’s face or out loud, maybe it shouldn’t be said? So maybe that’s another perspective to MyKayla’s social media personality vs. what she’s like in person. None of which means she deserves the level of internet hate she gets, because the people dishing out that hate are seem much nastier than the person they are hating on.

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    • That’s not true at all. It has to do with her multiple social media gaffes and her bad choreography and form. Her form has improved a ton but it’s still not great, and I doubt it ever will be. So when you combine a bad attitude with unappealing gymnastics, it’s pretty obvious that you’re going to get loads and loads of hate.

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    • I doubt it. I didn’t even know she was a Mormon until just now… Also, I don’t think most people have anything against Mormons in general? Why would they?

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    • If that were the only reason than why doesn’t MaKenna Merrell, the whole BYU team, along with other Mormons on other teams get bashed/garner a lot of hate like Skinner does? There are plenty of Mormons in NCAA and even another in elite: Deanne Soza. Being Mormon doesn’t automatically garner a lot of people instant hate. In fact it’s a religion that the average person knows very little about. (I am a former Mormon – born into a Mormon family, but I left the church when I was 16. When I tell people that many have never even heard of the church/religion & those who have generally have little to no idea what it’s about.)

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  6. Hi Lauren! I’m an aspiring novelist + freelance sports writer, and if you’d ever want to share anything you’ve learned along the way or how you have grown The Gymternet so much, I would love to hear it. 🙂

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  7. White people who use the N word are generally not well liked. For LGBTQ gym fans, Skinner’s homophobia has also been horrifying. Say what you want about attitude but those two are pretty big deal breakers for a lot of people.

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    • Right, and that’s valid. But that’s not what people are even giving her hate for – they’re giving her hate because she retweets things about herself. If the hate was about homophobia and racism (and it’s a huge jump to go from “she retweeted her friend using the N word once” to “she’s a full-blown racist” as I’ve seen some people refer to her but okay) that would make sense and be totally valid. But most people who dislike her either don’t know about that or don’t cite it as a reason for hating her. Most of what I’ve seen from the general public is that she’s too full of herself and if she was any male athlete, that wouldn’t be close to an issue.

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      • I agree with you completely on this point Lauren. I think some people don’t even know the reasons they are hating on Mykayla. They just want to jump on the bandwagon and be cool/liked (?) by some of the bloggers and other posters on the gymternet.

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    • Yeah, those are definitely deal breakers for me. If people are harassing or threatening her, that’s a completely wrong and inappropriate response that I do not endorse but I’ll never be able to call myself a fan of hers after learning about that stuff. I also think that the young, ignorant and sheltered excuses that people make for her behavior no longer cut it. She’s an adult now and after being a major Olympic contender, she had to have had someone telling her to stop being offensive. I had friends in college who were sheltered and ignorant growing up and didn’t realize that using “gay” as an insult was wrong. But once other people explained it, they apologized and stopped doing it. And this was in the late 90’s before social media shitstorms over offensive remarks were even a thing. I just don’t see any reason why Skinner can’t have changed her ways by now. Unless she’s actually racist and homophobic and doesn’t want to change. Screwing up is part of growing up, but so is learning from your mistakes. So she’s not getting a pass from me.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks so much for addressing the situation with Mykayla Skinner. It’s bothered me this whole year. I have been amazed at the hatred and snark that has been directed her way this season. I just don’t get it. And so many of the people accusing her of saying/tweeting horrible things, are saying even worse and doing more horrible things TO HER. I’ve likened it to cyber-bulling. She is one of the nicest, sweetest girls in person.

    I also don’t get the Utah bashing. I’ve been a Utah fan, and season ticket holder since 1982. I’ve attended 25 NCAA Championships in many different states, and I can tell you that Utah fans have been treated amazing by some schools (and their fans), and we have been treated downright awful by other schools (and fans). In all the home meets I have been to, I have never witnessed any Utah fans being awful. Even though I sit near the beam, I didn’t witness the incident that happened this year vs. UCLA. Our student section can get rowdy at times, but for the most part Utah fans know their gymnastics. The meet had been built up for weeks by the press, and the scoring was crazy that night, so emotions were very high….(which doesn’t excuse the behavior of that incident at all however). Because we sell out the arena for most meets, it get super loud, and there were a lot of “boos” for scoring that night. But, there were also a lot of cheers for good routines, etc. I believe it was Peng-Peng that fell on bars, and the crowd cheered for her LOUDLY when she got back on the bars, and when she dismounted.

    Utah has always traveled with a large fan base as well, and I have traveled with them to many away meets, including Nationals. Our fans have always been courteous and nice to other teams and cheered for other gymnasts. We’ve eaten in restaurants with fans from other teams, gotten to know other teams fans at bars, in the arenas, etc. Some we see year after year. I don’t get the hatred. Most of it seems to come from assumption, and from people who haven’t even interacted with Utah fans, maybe?

    In my opinion, NCAA gymnastics is what it is today because of Greg Marsden, Utah Gymnastics and the Utah fans. Greg took a team and an NCAA program from nothing, to something huge. Because of Utah’s early success with all of their Championships, and their ability to sell out home meets, and bring in huge crowds for NCAA Championships, it paved the way for other teams to begin doing the same, and brought NCAA gymnastics to a new fan base. Soon Georgia and Alabama were doing the same thing, and the rivalry between the three schools made things even bigger. Now other schools are selling out meets, have big budgets, and are attracting top gymnasts, and it’s awesome! Having ESPN live coverage is HUGE! You used to have to wait weeks to watch the championships, after you got home. On CBS Sports, or something, and it was only an hour long. NCAA Gymnastics has gotten huge and it’s only going to get bigger! How amazing, is that?

    Anway, just my thoughts. I felt I needed to defend Utah’s fans, as I’m one of them, and I think we’re pretty okay. 🙂

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    • I totally agree!! Like i feel for MyKayla and every time she retweets dumb things I am just like GIRL please stop cause she’s killing it and I love that she is doing well in NCAA after a pretty damn good elite career (she has an individual medal, so not too shabby). At the same time, there are crazy twitter on both sides of the Mykalya debates, ie Utah fans who literally had no idea who she was before she was on the team and thinks she is gods gift to gymnastics and have zero clue about some of the dumb things she has retweeted in the past that has put people off her. (like i saw tweets from crazy twitter people saying that people referencing the racist tweet in the past was “slander”, like what?!? guys it happened and it was smart on her part).

      Also in reference to the crazy twitter people, the poor sportsmanship post skinner not winning a pac 12 award was INSANE. Like basically saying McMillian was undeserving and is bad at gymnastics and that Kyla’s 4 10s meant nothing because DOUBLE DOUBLE. Honestly I bought Kyla winning FOTY over skinner head to head (especially if that was the only award she was submitted for) based on accomplishments ie competing 3 events and earning 4 10s across 2 events. But GOTY was def odd and most likely due to the vote splitting between the 2 awards for skinner, which is more a reflection on the coaches submitting her for the awards, because I think it would be very unlikely for the same person to get 2 of the pac 12 awards.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do agree things got a bit out of hand with all of the tweets regarding Mykayla not winning PAC-12 GOTY or FOTY. Although, I think if the situation had been with a gymnast on any other NCAA team, the fan outrage and tweets would have been the same. I don’t think Utah fans reacted any differently than any other fans would have, had it been a gymnast from another team.

        One of the most annoying things about that whole thing to me was, the fact that the PAC-12 gives out the weekly award, but then the coaches voted for the yearly award. I don’t think most general fans realized that. Either have the coaches vote for the weekly award and the yearly award, or have the PAC-12 do it. 🙂

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  9. I think instead of condoning Skinners attitude because the same attitude is “not an issue” when men have it, it is important to highlight that the same attitude wrongfully goes unnoticed in men.

    “It’s okay that she does it because other people are doing it,” like no, it’s not okay when either person does it. Maybe this is what you intended, it just seems like you are trying to excuse inexcusable behavior because someone else engages in the same inexcusable behavior.

    Also, there is a difference between confidence and ignorance/rudeness/intolerance/narcissism/egotistical/pompous. If I had 500 words to describe Skinner, confidence would not be among them.

    Personally, I dislike Skinner because her gymnastics is atrocious, shes made incredibly ignorant and rude comments, and I don’t know her in person so whether or not she has a good personality deep down, is irrelevant. I think that is why so many people dislike her.

    I will say that it is somewhat of a relief to hear that she is more conscious of what she says in person!

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  10. Yeah-some of the hate is also coming from young and immature people. I mean the hate has been strong since 2013 and will continue to be so. What I find so amazing is that Skinner is able to block everything out and produce when it counts. Plus she’s always improving and adding new skills.

    Also, I don’t see what’s wrong when speaking up if you think something is unfair and unjust. If Skinner thinks she was snubbed, let her speak up. Otherwise, the people are bullying her into silence.

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  11. Actually, I read somewhere that Rebeca may compete in VT in one of this month’s challenge cups. That would be awesome I guess.

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  12. With regard to raising the bar height for Kyla Ross…the bars can only be raised by 5cm if when hanging from the high bar the gymnast touches the mat with her toes, or when hanging from the low bar she touches the mat with her bottom. Being a taller gymnast does not entitle you to have the bars raised in height. Jana Sikulova while competing in international competition for example, was tall enough at 170cm tall to have the bars raised. It is my understanding that while competing internationally, Kyla Ross was 163cm.

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    • Wow that’s terrible. The bar flexes when you’re on it, so if you don’t hit in a dead hang you might in a giant or other skill, or worry you might. Not too mention that the distance between the bars is super important and is increased a bit when the bars are raised (or when the high bar is raised). You get to a point where straddling a giant isn’t enough to miss the low bar, you have to do a bizarre straddle/extreme pike combo thing that can make it much harder to get the momentum/timing for releases and dismounts. What’s the reasoning for not just allowing vault and bars to be adjusted in a small range, like in JO and NCAA?

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  13. Re. your remarks discussing Mykayla Skinner and the reasons she ‘gets a lot of hate’.

    I actually don’t know anything about Mykayla as a person. I don’t know what state she’s from, I don’t follow her on social media, I don’t actually follow her on NCAA either. My dislike is solely to do with her style of gymnastics. I’ve been watching gymnastics since 1990, and have developed a taste for graceful, yet powerful gymnastics. That is what I find pleasing to the eye. Mykayla’s style of gymnastics is the exact opposite of what I find appealing. The constant form issues (flexed feet, bent legs when they should be straight, leaps that are not split etc) as well as the (to my eye) poor choreography in her beam and floor routines, mean that I do not enjoy watching her at all.

    It has nothing to do with her religious beliefs, what state she’s from (couldn’t even care less about that, I don’t live in the States anyway), or her presence on social media. It has everything to do with the kinds of scores she is capable of under this code, for gymnastics I consider to be sadly lacking in good technique of basic movements. It is a travesty in my opinion. The Soviets and Romanians of the 1980s were capable of exceptionally difficult tumbling, while being exceptionally well versed in musicality and dance, and (for the most part) showed exceptional technique while marrying the two. That was what made gymnastics so special. In contrast, Mykayla typically shows exceptionally difficult tumbling, and not a lot else, but was well rewarded under the previous code (the current one, well, we’ll wait and see). It is hard watching the sport I have loved for many years degenerate to performances such as she has shown, and yet such performances being rewarded with good scores.

    That is why I dislike her gymnastics. Her as a person? Doesn’t really factor into it for me.

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    • Right but we’re not talking about her gymnastics. She’s not the only one with gymnastics that isn’t pleasing aesthetically and she’s actually far from having the worst aesthetics for elites. She doesn’t get ‘hate’ for her gymnastics. She gets it for everything else.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lauren, to your point, the first time I saw her floor routine and didn’t know who she was, I literally said, “gross” to myself and skipped to the next routine (based on her form and what I felt to be atrocious dance). Between that and her skills always looking “chucked” and underprepared, I think her gymnastics is realistically a part of why she is disliked. I disliked her gymnastics strongly for years before I knew she also made poor decisions as a human regarding treating others with respect.

        I also agree that she has improved tremendously this year at Utah, but unless her personality shows a 180 I’m happily onboard the “I have no respect for that athlete and hope others beat her” train.

        Also, though I do disagree with you here, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts, opinions, and time with the gymternet!

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        • Right, BUT there are plenty of gymnasts who are disliked for their form. She’s far from the worse. But I don’t tweet people hate because I don’t like their gymnastics. No one does. People tweet hate because of personality clashes and gymnast behavior.

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  14. Since we’re all commenting about MyKayla Skinner lol…

    As someone who tends to be a USA Gym fan regardless of whatever, I had nothing against Skinner until after the Olympic Team selection. I was rooting for her at 2014 Worlds and was disappointed when she missed out on floor bronze. I have never been a fan of her floor choreo (she’s what I call a “jerky” dancer and it’s hard to watch lol), but her Michael Buble routine from that year wasn’t terrible and her tumbling and vaulting have always rocked. I was also surprised and disappointed that she didn’t get to compete at 2015 Worlds. Going into 2016 Trials, she wasn’t on my dream team, but after night 1, I thought she might be a better option than Gabby along with everyone else. But it was her behavior after she didn’t make the team and the way her fans responded to and defended her behavior that I couldn’t support.

    For one, let’s not act like Skinner didn’t come back from a 15th place finish at Classics and an 8th place finish at Nationals to have literally the best meet of her life at Trials. She’s a great athlete, but for her and anyone else to act like she “deserved” to be on the team more than Gabby is absurd to me. Gabby had held it down the whole season…she digressed a little at Nationals and Trials but did well in Rio for the most part and that’s ultimately what mattered. Meanwhile, Skinner had been rather mediocre all year but happened to have a great meet at Trials and it seemed like so many people (4-year and regular fans alike) were willing to completely ignore her track record (including her meltdown at Nationals) in favor of basing her value to the team on literally one meet. And the fact that she exhibited literally zero humility in light of all that was a huge turn off to me. Ragan and Ashton made better and more consistent cases for themselves over a longer span of time in my opinion and they both handled the disappointment graciously. Not only was MyKayla retweeting tweets that said she should’ve made the team over Gabby, but one of those tweets referenced Gabby with monkey and banana emojis, which is racist af. And I don’t care if she wasn’t paying attention or was naive or whatever…she should have known better. To my knowledge, she deleted the tweets but never apologized. She wasn’t sorry for what she did and I don’t think she learned from it, either, because she continued the same unsportsmanlike behavior in NCAA.

    Which brings me to point two: The people defending her behavior or supporting it, even, only made the situation worse. I also didn’t appreciate how Utah media covered her story all season. There was such an underlying current of “f*** you” to USA Gymnastics for not picking her in basically every article I read. For example, they made a big deal about her going up against Madison in the regular season like “oh, Madison made the Olympic team but MyKayla beat her in NCAA so what was USA Gymnastics thinking” when Maddie and MyKayla weren’t even in direct competition for a spot lol I think things like that kind of exacerbated the existing dislike for her. People get defensive when any legitimate critique is classified as “hate” and dismissed because someone else sees the situation differently. What I saw seemed less about bashing MyKayla for the sake of bashing her and more about people really getting too into trying to prove their points against her to other people who were avidly defending her. She’s been kind of a jerk on social media. A lot of people aren’t a fan of her style of gymnastics. Those are valid critiques. If someone doesn’t agree with them, cool. Their prerogative. It can be left at that.

    All that said, while I don’t like her at all as a person and was kind of glad to see her reap a little bit of karma at Super Six (she still ultimately did well, though), I will be rooting for her if she tries to make the team for Worlds this fall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s absurd at all to think that MyKayla should have made the Olympic team over Gabby. I absolutely think she should have, and I also think Ragan Smith should have as well. The top 5 at Olympic trials were the best at trials, end of story. That should have been our team. However, I realize that’s not how the team is picked. Don’t even get me started on that whole cluster eff of a situation. Off course, like you said, this is all just my opinion and perspective. I think it’s time to get rid of the “selection process” for the Olympic gymnastics teams.

      I also respectfully disagree with you regarding the Utah media. I just never got that underlying vibe this season. Local sports writers have a job of covering local sports. Of course they are going to slant their stories toward their local athletes, why wouldn’t they? It’s not like they are USA Today, or Sports Illustrated, writing for a national audience. Of course, I’m also from Utah, and a Utah season ticket holder so I’m reading from a different perspective. I just think local media for any gymnast that was in that situation (finishing 4th at trials) would have been treated the same way. And I also think any gymnast that was in that situation, probably would have had a lot of “fans” tweeting, etc. their outrage at the situation – most of them probably being those fans that come around every quad and don’t know much about the selection process? Idk. I’ve been around NCAA gymnastics for 35 years, and I’ve just never seen so much negativity towards one single athlete (and one single school). Of course, I come from a time when social media didn’t exist! 🙂

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  15. First, I agree with what Rien said:
    “I think instead of condoning Skinners attitude because the same attitude is “not an issue” when men have it, it is important to highlight that the same attitude wrongfully goes unnoticed in men.”

    I also agree that the “hate” from many in the online community towards her absolutely constitutes bullying, and I hope these people somehow learn to check themselves. At the same time, I do not think that retweeting “supportive” tweets that actually convey hate, bias, or just un-sports-woman-like conduct should be excused as just retweeting mindlessly. She’s done it too much over too long a time period with too much backlash to not know that if she wanted to present a better public image, she should be more careful. So I don’t count that as an excuse at all, although generally other points you (Lauren) made are solid.

    An aspect of this issue that no one has mentioned is that we should also consider why her behavior stands out within her sport. Many other popular elite gymnasts or formerly elite gymnasts have clearly curated social media personas that show they are caring, supportive, team players who want to help others and use their popularity to have a positive influence on the world. That creates a pretty high standard for amazing personalities you just want to love, hope kids will look up to and learn from, and you want to see them succeed because their popularity is maybe doing good things in a world full of awfulness. And other popular gymnasts who may not be so active on social media still seem very careful about what they do post. MyKayla really stands out to me as quite the opposite of the norm. So yeah, compared to other sports she is getting pretty harsh hate, and the gender bias is also there, but when it comes to the gymnastics community alone, pretty much anyone remotely unsportswomanlike is bound to stand out. Add to that a lack of remorse and continuing to do the same things, there shouldn’t be a surprise at all.

    In addition, think about what NCAA gymnastics teams have done in recent years to use their popularity and influence to support marginalized communities. UNC’s support of LGBTQ athletes this year is a great example, and I’m sure fans can think of more – some direct and some more indirect. Again, against this background for positive actions going on in the sport, you see a gymnast retweeting things that are racist and homophobic, and of course she stands out!

    Finally, what I think a lot of people that have so far commented on here don’t realize is that racism is racism even if the person doesn’t know or think they are racist. Lack of knowledge is not a valid excuse, in fact, it is an aspect to why racism exists at all and continues to prevent people from having equal opportunities to achieve, live in safe communities, have the same opportunities, etc! But, instead, if someone is saying or doing something racist and you think they dont know it or “mean” any harm by it, they don’t need hate, they need education — learning how and why these things are both personally hurtful to people of those communities as well as more broadly contributing to cyclical marginalization and victimization. It is serious and intense stuff that someone who comes from a rather sheltered background might understandably not know about. But when you go become so popular amongst such a diverse community of fans and other athletes, you only have so long to learn and make mistakes right. If you don’t, again, you really stand out against your peers, and that’s who you are measured against, not pro football players like Michael Vick.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. About the hate on Skinner, people should learn to understand that the gym girls are just like us. They also have bad and good days and don’t have to be nice and smile ALL THE TIME. In Brazil, Daniele Hypolito and Jade Barbosa suffers that kind of hate, and the brazilian fas says horribles things about they,
    like they should retire because it does not yield anything and harms the brazilian team. I love them and I think they’ve done so much for brazilian history, but brazilian fans are horrible.

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  17. It’s really helpful to hear your response on MyKayla Skinner. Most of the complaints I heard were about her tweet of a team picture with something written in the background and complaints that it showed poor sportsmanship. (I’m just on one college gymnastics board though, and not on twitter or other forms of social media). I saw a lot of discussion about if that impacted the voting for the PAC 12 awards. I also heard complaints about McKayla repeating the same types of social media mistakes regarding posting or retweeting offensive things, without seeming to learn from it. But the level of hatred towards McKayla and the viciousness displayed towards her is really disturbing.

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    • Yeah, I totally get why people don’t like her but the level of hate people give to her is alarming and unnecessary. And if anything, she seems to be fueled on the hate and it only makes her worse, lol, so if they want her to be a better person they’re taking the opposite of the right way to get there. I’m a huge proponent of educating people and not shaming them because it’s proven that the more you shame people for being ignorant or racist or mean, the more they’ll keep it up whereas if you explain to people why what they’re saying is wrong, they’re more apt to change. MyKayla’s not a great person, but neither are any of the people attacking her, either.

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  18. I don’t get how you think rude social media is overlooked for the men. Louis Smith got banned from competing for 2 months for some racist remarks on twitter and some of the brazilians (I believe artur mariano was involved) got taken off the roster of a world cup event in 2015 for a racist joke on snapchat. I can’t recall any of the women getting any kind of sanctions or punishements for their social media activity. It’s even more surprising when you consider the men get much less attention than the women.

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    • The men got punished by their federations but Arthur Mariano was literally the DARLING of the Games this summer despite his use of racial slurs toward a teammate. What MyKayla did doesn’t even come CLOSE to what he did. Louis gets a little more hate from fans than Arthur but still nowhere close to the level MyKayla gets.

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  19. These people who bash Mykayla and stalk all her social media, go through her likes, and even track down her family members’ social medias to do so need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Take care of the log in your own eye before dealing with the splinter in someone else’s.

    And I’d definitely say it’s far more Mykayla-specific than any sort of gender thing. ASac has been known to be cocky and unsportsmanlike, and who really cares? I get that her gymnastics is much prettier, but since when does ugly gymnastics make it okay to pillory someone? People lost their MINDS over Mykayla calling herself a member of the Olympic team when she was an alternate, and Anna Li called herself a freaking World Champion, but again no one cares.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Say the Olympics or World’s are held in a country with absolutely no history of gymnastics success. Does the gymnastics team of that country automatically get a spot without having to qualify?

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