You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

It’s time for the 162nd 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.

When the ten second bell rings on beam, why do gymnasts waste time finishing a bunch of choreography? Looking at Tabea Alt’s routine from London, she still went and did five pointless arm waves, including one she stumbled on. What’s the point of wasting a tenth going over time instead of just leaving out a couple of arm waves and going right to the dismount?

I thought that was odd as well, but I think when she heard the bell, she probably thought there was no way she was going to finish up the routine safely in ten seconds, even without the choreo. Had she heard the bell, run to the end of the beam to prep, and then dismounted, she’d be super rushed and wouldn’t be able to safely dismount. As we saw, she ended up crashing the dismount even with the pointless choreo and with a HUUUUGE amount of time she took to catch her breath and get mentally straight for the double pike. Had she rushed to meet that ten-second deadline, she could’ve had an even rougher dismount and been injured…so for her, it was definitely worth getting the one-tenth penalty if it meant she had more time to mentally prepare. Because beam routines have to be fluid and have constant movement, and because she wasn’t at the end of the beam when the bell went off, she had to get herself to the end in an ‘artistic’ way thus the random arm wave choreo continuing to the end. She could’ve sped it up and rushed if she wanted, but yeah, given the huge pause she took to get herself together before throwing the dismount, my guess is that she knew it wasn’t gonna happen if she rushed and so therefore she was just better off taking her time and incurring the penalty. Her routine is SO long, I think that’s the issue here…I don’t think she’s made a routine once this season without timing concerns.

Since younger gymnasts are starting to focus on the 10.0 start value vaults for NCAA recruitment, do you think we’ll start to see more non-Yurchenko entries?

Yup! I mean, I guess we could see more Yurchenko 1½ vaults, but that’s actually a pretty difficult vault with the blind landing and there are definitely plenty of easier ways to go about getting a 10.0 start value. I could see the Yurchenko half-on becoming more popular, though, so in a sense I guess Yurchenkos would still be around. For some reason handsprings and tsuks just aren’t as popular in the U.S. because the Yurchenko trend has made for great Yurchenko coaching but very little variety, but I think we’ll at least get a few more of these than we have in the past.

Do you know what’s up with Catherine Lyons?

As far as I know, she was planning on training coming into this year, but who knows what may have happened since? Whatever’s going on, she’s being pretty quiet about it. Honestly, we haven’t seen her in over two years at this point, so seeing her come back at a similar level is kind of a pipe dream, but you never know…she did work through lots of injuries and now could just be waiting until she’s fully healthy to return. I think I remember her getting some sort of surgery last summer, saying something about that surgery hopefully being the last one ever, so hopefully that means she’s on the mend!

It seems Americans are going to world cups more frequently this season. Is this because of the change to the Olympic qualification rules?

Nope, they did most of the all-around world cups in the previous quad. In addition to all four American Cups, Elizabeth Price won Stuttgart and Glasgow in the 2012-2013 season and won silver in Glasgow in the 2013-2014 season, Maggie Nichols won bronze in Tokyo in the 2013-2014 season, and MyKayla Skinner won Glasgow and Amelia Hundley got bronze in Stuttgart in 2016. Generally, I think this has been an assignment that didn’t generate much interest because when Glasgow and Stuttgart were held in November/December, most coaches didn’t want to send gymnasts because their gymnasts were working to peak for worlds and then they go on a hiatus from late October until the next U.S. verification camp the following February. Going to the November/December world cups meant training straight through half of their hiatus and only getting a month to chill and take it easy before ramping up for the next season. I know of at least three gymnasts who were offered world cup spots in the last quad, which is why no one ended up going in 2014. Now that Stuttgart and London (formerly Glasgow) are held in the spring around the same time as American Cup, there’s going to be more interest globally, not just from the U.S.

Will Tokyo 2020 be 4-3-3 or 4-4-3?

I believe qualifications will be 4-4-3 and team finals will be 4-3-3. Because of that 4-4-3 aspect in qualifications, every team would basically need to consist of four all-arounders, unless they opt to bring a specialist and then risk putting up only three gymnasts on an event in qualifications, which could really hurt their chances for making team finals if they end up having to count one of the three as a fall while other teams will get to throw away a fall. Not bringing four all-arounders will definitely put teams at a disadvantage.

Is Lexy Ramler still competing elite?

She was actually supposed to compete in the challenge session at Gymnix in March, but ended up not attending, though I’m not sure why. After that, she dropped down to level 10 and is competing in the Senior F division at J.O. nationals this weekend, meaning she will not continue in elite this summer.

What would happen if a gymnast got a skill named for her and then got married and changed her last name? Would the skill name change too?

I think the skill name would remain the same. I think most gymnasts who get married add their married last names to their maiden names, because their maiden names are generally who they’re known as professionally? Like Carly Patterson is technically Carly Patterson Caldwell, but she’s still known as Carly Patterson in the gym world and her skill is still called the Patterson, not the Caldwell or the Patterson-Caldwell. The only one I can think of who has a skill in the code with her married name is Katarzyna Jurkowska-Kowalska, and she was already married when she got her skill named, so she used her full last name. I’d imagine if a gymnast really wanted to be credited under her new name, she could maybe request to have it changed? But most must prefer keeping them under the name they were known as throughout their careers.

What do you think about the national team continuing to wear the leos from Rio? I feel like they’re special and should be retired. Is this just a difference between Martha Karolyi and Valeri Liukin?

In the U.S., the leos introduced each year (for worlds in non Olympic years and for the Olympics in the Olympic year) become the national team leos for one full year. Even back in Martha’s day, this was the case, though the leos used at the Olympics in 2012 didn’t get much play after the Olympics because the U.S. made the change from Adidas to Under Armour that quad and could no longer use the 2012 leos beginning in 2013 (I think Brenna Dowell and Elizabeth Price were the only ones who competed in a 2012 leo at an international meet because they competed internationally that fall). Some countries do ‘retire’ leos in a way…like in Canada, the only gymnasts who get the Olympic leos are the Olympians and it becomes kind of a cool status thing when they wear them in subsequent competitions. But no, in the U.S., at least in recent history, they don’t retire the Olympic leos. Anyone on the national team for the year the Olympics are held (in this case, the 2016-2017 national team) gets the Olympic leos and they wear them internationally.

Is there still a deduction for underwear showing in any code (NCAA, J.O., elite) and if so how much is it?

Yes there is. It would fall under a behavior violation in elite, where any violations of attire comes with a 0.3 penalty, which shows up in the “ND” section of a score like an out-of-bounds or overtime penalty would. I’m not sure what the violation would be in J.O. or NCAA. Actually, would NCAA even have one? You can see bras and underwear in literally every competition so I’d imagine judges are like “meh whatever” and don’t actually penalize for this if there is a penalty.

What is your opinion on tiebreakers at the Olympics? Do you think they go too far sometimes and should just be left alone?

Yeah, I think anyone who earns a score that falls in place for a specific medal should get to keep that medal. I almost feel like the four-way tie at worlds in 2015 was the FIG’s way of being like “this is why we don’t do ties at the Olympics, how silly!” but for real, the whole tiebreak thing is awful and disheartening and actually doesn’t even make sense in terms of the all-around. I am glad they got rid of the tiebreak that cost Nastia Liukin a bars gold in 2008…now gymnasts with the same D and E scores are allowed to tie, so phew, that’s over and done with…and I guess it makes sense for those without the same D and E to break ties by rewarding the gymnast with the better performance by taking the score with the higher E score.

But the all-around tie-break of dropping the lowest score actually rewards the gymnast who has the weaker day because she gets to drop her bad event! In 2012, Aliya Mustafina was rewarded by getting to drop her routine with a large mistake whereas Aly had a stronger day overall, and had to get rid of a score for a hit routine. For more of an example of how awful this is, let’s say two gymnasts tie with scores of 60. One gymnast gets a 15 on every event after a strong and consistent day. Dropping one of those 15s gets her to a 45 in the tie-break. The other gymnast is awful on floor, falls twice, and gets a 12.5, but is amazing on vault and bars and gets 16s on both, and then gets a 15.5 on beam. When she drops her 12.5, her three-event score is a 47.5. In every single all-around tie-break, the gymnast with the biggest mistake of the day ends up winning out, because she gets to drop a routine with a fall or large mistake whereas a gymnast with a better, more consistent day is forced to drop a score from an event she hits. Like…what?! If they’re going to do all-around tie-breakers, they should drop the highest score, in which case the consistent gymnast in this case would still get a 45, whereas the gymnast with the fall would only get a 44. All-around tie-breaks with score dropping is stupid in general because all-around means four events, not three, so maybe they should add up all four E scores instead? But if they’re going to drop a full score, it makes way more sense to drop the highest rather than the lowest, because then a gymnast with a fall can’t win over a gymnast who hits all four.

In this video at about 51 minutes in, a girl wearing a purple and black leotard does an inbar at the end of a Tkachev. What is this called? Is it in the elite code? What’s the value?

It’s called a cut-catch and it’s a B in the J.O. code. It used to be more popular for lower-level optional gymnasts back in the 90s and early 2000s and now it’s used as a release for those who don’t have more difficult releases, like a Tkachev or Jaeger. I can’t picture seeing any in elite, but my guess is that it’d be rated an A or so? The B releases I can think of are a little more challenging than this…could be a B but seems more likely to be an A.

It seems some NCAA women do more difficulty than is necessary to achieve a 10.0 start value. Do they do this because they believe the judges will give them higher scores by recognizing the greater difficulty, even though they shouldn’t?

That’s not really why they do it. Yes, it’s impressive to see big skills at the NCAA level, and yes, sometimes judges do give bigger skills the benefit of the doubt and a Yurchenko double on vault might not be judged as harshly as a full. But most do it because they have the skills and want to compete them. If anything, they become known for doing something cool, like every LSU fan with zero knowledge about gymnastics knows that Ashleigh Gnat does a DTY and they know it’s a big impressive vault so she gets that little bit of recognition in her community. Any other team with a gymnast that does something cool — Utah with Georgia Dabritz and her Comaneci salto, UCLA with Peng Peng Lee’s Bhardwaj and Danusia Francis’ transverse side aerial to layout full, and so on — gets excited for skills like these and they become what the gymnast is known for.

Is Svetlana Boginskaya the main coach for Oksana Chusovitina or is she only with her for major events?

Oksana’s situation is interesting because she’s kind of everywhere. I think she is in a situation where she doesn’t really need someone to actively coach her in terms of literally teaching her gymnastics, because she already has her skills and routines, and she’s been doing them for going on 30 years, so she doesn’t really need anyone to be like “here’s how you do a double layout!” or coach her through drills (though occasionally she works with different coaches when she’s upgrading or something).

But she does need a coach for major international meets, and I think that’s where Boginskaya comes in. Boginskaya recently said that she learns more from Chusovitina than Chusovitina learns from her, so she’s there more as a friend and guide than as someone really coaching her through her gymnastics. She also works with various other coaches like Alexander Alexandrov in Houston, and when I went to the Mexican Open, Chusovitina was there without any coach, but had Catalina Ponor spotting her on bars and Carolyne Pedro’s coach Inna Korobchinskaya spotting her on vault. So I think she has Boginskaya as her personal coach and as a pal in the gym who can help her out if needed, but she also kind of does her own thing and knows enough about what she needs to do, so having an actual legit coach isn’t really necessary. For the Olympics, though, she had to have a coach actually from Uzbekistan, so that’s why Boginskaya didn’t end up traveling with her to Rio, just as an FYI.

How do you think Dominique Moceanu would have fared at the 2000 Olympics had she been back in her 1998 Goodwill Games form? How would you rank her regrettably short career in terms of her success considering the personal issues she went through?

I think she definitely would’ve made the 2000 team but with all of the problems both in Sydney and in the national team environment, it’s hard to say how she would’ve done. On a good day with no problems she definitely would’ve been in the mix for an all-around medal, that’s for sure. But the same nonsense that affected girls like Elise Ray and Kristen Maloney would’ve affected her as well. Her career always bums me out, which sounds funny because like, she’s an Olympic gold medalist…but when you know how much potential she had, it’s just like, she could’ve done SO much more. But given that her life behind the scenes was always dramatic and insane, she’s lucky she made it as far as she did, honestly. That’s a testament to how good she was as a gymnast and how strong she was as a person.

What is your favorite routine ever on each event? What do you like about them?

I don’t do “ever” because my brain only goes back to things I’ve seen recently, so all of my favorites tend to be recent, though I have lots of routines from the 90s especially but also the mid 2000s that I would consider favorites as well…they just wouldn’t jump into my head because I haven’t seen them in forever. I’ll stick to more recent ones for this since they’re obviously most fresh in my mind. On vault, probably McKayla Maroney’s Amanar. So good. On bars, Beth Tweddle’s routine from 2012, Brenna Dowell’s from 2014-2015, and Nina Derwael’s current routine. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Tkachevs with half twists. Beam is definitely Liu Tingting’s current routine. GAH, it’s so good. I get bored during beam sometimes because it’s like, the same sequences over and over again…but hers is so different and awesome. And floor, Aly Raisman’s 2012 routine will always be a sentimental favorite even if it’s not necessarily the ‘best’ in terms of choreo or whatever. Last quad I really loved Axelle Klinckaert, Lieke Wevers, Eythora Thorsdottir, Flavia Saraiva, Leah Griesser, Rifda Irfanaluthfi…and probably a zillion more.

The U.S. has a reputation of being bad on bars. With so many of the new seniors and rising juniors looking good there, what event will become the U.S. focus this quad? It looks like floor, but if Aly Raisman and Simone Biles return, floor could go from being the worst to best event overnight.

I don’t understand. “Bad on bars” in like, 2010-2012 maybe. But last quad, they had some of the best bars depth in the world with about eight gymnasts who could all reach a 15+ on the event. Here’s a look at the bars picture this past quad:

Individual world or Olympic medals: Russia (5), China (4), United States (3)

World or Olympic team QF/TF first place: China (2), United States (2), Russia (2)

Bars isn’t always their best event, but ‘not the best’ doesn’t mean ‘bad at bars,’ and bars wasn’t even the team’s weakness last quad — beam was, with floor also generally behind. In pretty much every team competition, the team bars score was better than the team beam/floor scores by a couple of points.

But that aside, yeah, floor is going to be the roughest this quad, but it’s going to be the same for everyone right now. The highest bars and beam scores in the world are reaching 14.6-14.8 or so, and the highest floor scores have been 14.0-14.2, so no one is really pushing difficulty there at the moment though as we get closer to the Olympics we’re going to see athletes start to beef up their routines making it hard to say right now if the current weak floor scores will continue to be an issue in 2020.

If a country like Romania had exactly five gymnasts all at Larisa Iordache’s 2014 level, do you think they could take the team title?

Let’s pretend there were three Larisa Iordaches competing in team finals. I multiplied her team final scores by three to get 179.220. The U.S. won the team final with a 179.280, so the U.S. women would’ve just narrowly defeated three Larisa Iordaches competing for Romania. So yeah, a team of Larisa Iordache clones would’ve absolutely had a shot at winning a team title.

Where had Gabby Douglas committed to before going pro?

She never committed to a university before making the decision to go pro.

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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17 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

    • Seriously? Went even have a team competition if you’re going to count 2 scores? Ugh! I miss the huge team days, and everyone had a part. 92 and 96 were really the best.

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        • It’s # of gymnasts competing for a country – # of gymnasts up per apparatus – # of scores counting

          So 4-3-3 means 4 gymnasts total per country – 3 (of those 4) gymnasts compete per each apparatus – 3 scores count

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        • Oh sorry. I remember reading ideas put out before they finalized the format and one of the proposals was 4 per team, 3 go up with lowest scores dropped. I didn’t know that they decided to stick with 3 up 3 count. Sorry!

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  1. Trivia: The cut-catch was the first UB skill (after the dismount) in the 1984 compulsories.

    On a side note, I realized that the compulsory beam and floor choreos at the 1984 olympics were actually quite intricate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Re Oksana and coaching – who taught her the double front on vault? I was recently watching the NBC coverage of vault finals from Rio and they showed her doing a timer in the gym, so she is still learning new skills.

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  3. I really miss the full teams of six gymnasts. So many more interesting athletes to watch, so much more drama in six up five count as to who would make finals.

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