It’s time for the 163rd 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.
Say a gymnast submits a skill but instead performs a higher-rated skill. Does she get credited with the higher skill?
I’m assuming you mean for vault only because you don’t really ‘submit’ skills on other events. On vault, the gymnast has to flash an “intended” vault number, but if a gymnast enters the number for one vault but accidentally competes another, there’s no penalty whether she does a downgrade or an upgrade. I mean, obviously if she downgrades (pikes what is supposed to be a layout, for example) she loses the D, but there’s no actual penalty for not competing the intended vault so I don’t believe there’s a penalty if there’s an accidental upgrade (like an extra half twist from a DTY to an Amanar) either.
Did McKayla Maroney go pro?
Yes, she went pro after worlds in 2011.
Could you get around the NCAA rule that the leotard must touch the apparatus if you wore a unitard with feet?
Has anyone ever performed a piked double Arabian?
Yes, several gymnasts have, including Aly Raisman, Ellie Downie, Kennedy Baker, and Megan Roberts recently. The skill is called a Dos Santos, named for its originator, Daiane Dos Santos of Brazil.
What kind of acrobatics is the Moors element on floor?
It’s a tumbling skill, a double layout with two twists, rated an I element which is the highest element value on floor, worth 0.9 points.
If a gymnast connected something unexpected on beam and hadn’t previously submitted that connection, can she be credited for it?
Gymnasts don’t have to submit connections. It actually happens all the time, where gymnasts will miss connections — like the 180 degree leap connection requirement — and will make up for it with a backup connection later in the routine. If the missed connection is super noticeable — say the gymnast does a front aerial, then squats in position to prepare for a split jump and stays in that position for a couple of seconds before jumping — she won’t get credited for the connection and will probably lose execution tenths for lack of control or rhythm break or something. But if she’s supposed to do an aerial to split jump and then mid aerial, decides not to go for the jump because she feels off, she can just do the aerial, and then maybe later go for a side somi to straddle jump or something she may have trained as a back-up but wasn’t planning on competing until she made the mistake.
Let’s say someone did a double turn en dehors on beam/floor with her leg at 180. Would that be eligible to be a new named skill?
No. Skills would be the same whether en dehors or en dedans.
Has anyone ever done a front tuck full on beam? How much would it be worth?
No, I haven’t seen this ever. A back tuck is a C and a back full is an F, so since a front tuck is a D we can surmise that a front tuck full would be a G…though I could see it also going up to H.
How many points do you lose for falling in NCAA?
It’s half a point for a fall in NCAA, compared to a full point in elite.
Can you be deducted for a routine being too short even if it has all of the required elements?
You don’t get deducted, but you do get a penalty (in the ND column on a results sheet). A routine must have 7-8 skills to not get a penalty. Even if a gymnast gets all requirements met with fewer skills, without reaching at least 7 skills, she would be penalized. A gymnast who does 5-6 elements gets 4 points off in penalties, 3-4 elements gets 6 points off in penalties, and 1-2 elements gets 8 points off in penalties.
How did Catalina Ponor miss the front tumbling element at European Championships? Was it a mistake?
I saw her training a triple to punch front and a 2.5 to punch front. In the competition, she just did a 2.5 but it was a little rough and she didn’t land it super well so my guess is that she just missed the connection to the punch front and wasn’t able to improvise another place to throw it. So yes, it was a mistake…and she made a similar mistake at one of the world cups, and the judges also didn’t notice it there. She also said she was dealing with an ankle injury and decided beforehand not to compete it, but I’m surprised she wouldn’t have a backup pass ready knowing going in that she wasn’t going to be punching out of something. Had she downgraded her double pike to a front full or Rudi or something, she would’ve lost one or two tenths in difficulty, but wouldn’t have lost the 0.5 CR, and she would’ve made the floor final. I just don’t get why, if the lack of punch front was planned, she didn’t have some sort of plan worked out going in. Aliya Mustafina would’ve had like 17 various backup scenarios, hahaha. GET ON HER LEVEL.
With the new code, would the Danusia Francis dismount have any connection bonus? Would it be worth doing?
No it wouldn’t have any connection value, mainly because a back full isn’t worth much at all. In NCAA, back fulls are also worth almost nothing off beam, but gymnasts who connect simple dismounts like that from an acro skill get a bonus that allows it to fulfill the dismount requirement. In elite, there are a few ways to add CV from dismounts, but those are all about easy acro into difficult dismounts, whereas the NCAA way — and Danusia’s connection — are the opposite. The dismount CVs in elite are B (acro) + E (dismount) = 0.1 CV, B (acro) + F (or more, dismount) = 0.2 CV, and B + B + C (dismount) = 0.1 SB.
How much do NCAA team leos cost compared to national team leos?
I’m not sure…they’re probably a similar amount. They’re all hella expensive, like in the hundreds on average, and some that lose their minds with crystals get closer to $1000.
Student assistant coaches, managers, etc…is this in return for a scholarship or a partial scholarship? If Jordyn Wieber wasn’t pro, would she get a scholarship in exchange for her role?
Most of these positions are volunteer positions. Some assistant positions do get paid, which can probably even be part of work study jobs or something depending on the school (I have a friend who does something similar for work study) but no one gets a scholarship for doing this kind of work. Some gymnasts who have scholarships but medically retire and still have their scholarships covering their tuition will technically get scholarships to do this kind of work, but the scholarship will be for their athletics, not for this.
How do you get to travel so much to cover events? I love your live blogs and coverage!
Thank you! I have a full-time job and get four weeks of vacation each year. I try to plan most of my vacations around meets…so with Euros, I was able to take about two weeks out of work, and could travel for fun/actual vacation for a little more than half of that time, and then do Euros coverage the rest of the time. Also, if a meet is on the weekend and I don’t have to travel far, I might just make a weekend trip out of it, like I did with Gymnix and like I normally do with American Cup (for the past two years I’ve been #blessed to only have to travel across the Hudson River to beautiful Newark).
Could you provide some examples of a coach helping a gymnast break a fall off bars? I never see spotters actually save gymnasts from falls. Is it more of a peace-of-mind thing?
The best save is Sara Berardinelli of Italy on bars at Gymnix in 2015. The video went kind of viral because that’s how amazing the save is…the coach could see how screwed up her Tkachev was and was able to instinctively grab her and help her from getting injured. Also, timely, but Shang Chunsong’s coach really saved her ass on bars in the all-around final at Chinese Championships this weekend. Like, not a perfect save but she could’ve hit the mat SO much harder had he not been there to break her fall a bit.
For the most part, I think falls often happen too quickly or something, like human instinct just isn’t quick enough to make a clean catch when it takes less than a second for a gymnast to go from safe on the bar to splat on the mat. It could definitely be a peace-of-mind thing, like with the bail on uneven bars being so heavily spotted in NCAA, but as with Shang’s fall, even having someone there to kind of break the fall a little even if they can’t perfectly catch you, that helps a lot with keeping injuries at bay. Coaches are definitely trained how to spot each specific skill, and they know the problems their athletes tend to have on certain skills, which is why Sara’s coach in that example above was so attuned to her…can you imagine how many times falls like that had happened in the gym? At some point, if a gymnast has that many problems and needs to be spotted like crazy on skills, she probably shouldn’t be doing the skill…but there will always be fluke moments and you can only hope that the coach there can at least be somewhat proactive at easing the fall if not exactly fully stopping it from happening.
Has Giulia Steingruber retired?
No. She went to Australia shortly after the Olympics to take a vacation, and then returned to Switzerland to have surgery. Her goal was to be back in competition shape for worlds this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she took a little more time off. She’s also dealing with the recent loss of her older sister, who passed away in February, so she’s definitely going through a lot and it might be for the best if she just takes it easy for a little while.
Will all four team members have to do all apparatuses in 2020? Or will only three of them do each apparatus?
In qualifications, it’s four-up three-count, meaning all four gymnasts will have to compete all four events (they could go three-up three-count if they wanted to bring a specialist in, but that’s putting them at risk that other teams with four-up three-count won’t have to take, putting them at a huge disadvantage). In team finals, it’s three-up three-count so it will be three of the four gymnasts competing each event.
It seemed Madison Kocian was going to blow the competition out of the water in NCAA, but that didn’t really happen. Why wasn’t she dominant this season?
She had a shoulder injury that limited her training, especially on bars. Also, it’s much harder to be dominant in NCAA than in elite. In elite, you’re competing against maybe a dozen girls who are close to your level and you can keep separating yourself from the rest of the pack by adding difficulty and competing it well. In NCAA, there are about 800 gymnasts competing at any given time, and without any way to differentiate between difficulty, it means the girls doing perfect basic routines could outscore a former elite doing not-as-perfect but more complicated routines, which is why level 10s like Chayse Capps and Ashleigh Gnat can score just as well as (or better than) Olympians like Madison. Madison had a very strong season, and still came out ranked very high up there on pretty much everything, but my guess is that her injury made it more difficult for her to consistently get the absolute top scores on every event.
How many U.S. gymnasts (and gymnasts from other major teams like China and Russia) will have spots to compete at worlds this year?
Every country, no matter if they’re a ‘major team’ or a smaller program, has four individual spots at worlds this year. Some will use all four while other federations may only send one or two, depending on how many athletes they have in top competition shape.
Do you think Larisa Iordache or Catalina Ponor will compete in the all-around at worlds this year or just try for event finals?
Catalina likely won’t compete all-around, but I could see Larisa getting vault and floor back in the next few months to try to challenge for an all-around medal. Since the field is a bit weaker this year, she definitely has a shot at medaling…based on her bars and beam scores, she’d need to average 13.8 on her other two events to be within the higher end of the top all-around range so far this year, which is definitely doable for her. If she got her DTY back and got a 14.4 or so, she’d only need around a 13.2 on floor to get in the 56 AA range, which she could do with a more basic routine than she’s used to competing on floor. It could definitely happen.
Why can’t the U.S. create bars workers like the Russians or Chinese? Is bars not a priority?
The U.S. had the best-scoring bars team last quad so I’m not sure what you mean. Not everyone in the U.S. is a strong bar worker, but the strongest bar workers in the U.S. over the past few years have rivaled the Russians and Chinese and are among the best bar workers in the world. The top U.S. bar workers have literally the same exact routines (and same scoring potential) as the top Russian bar workers, and the Chinese have always had a different style. In team final events, the U.S. women were first on bars in 2014 and in 2016, and second on bars to the Chinese in 2015. I don’t get where this whole “the U.S. is bad at bars!!!” thing comes from…like, yeah, in 2010-2012, they didn’t have the best bar workers, but things have changed and something that was true five years ago doesn’t mean it’s still the case now.
Why does the post-Olympic tour only use Americans now when it used to be international back in the day?
I think it has something to do with money. The Americans who do the tour now are earning a crap ton of money, and I know of a couple of people last year who were interested in doing the tour — both from the U.S. and international gymnasts — who were turned down because I think they’d rather pay the ‘stars’ a ton of money to do it and have a smaller cast than pay less money to the ‘stars’ (which would make some of them not want to do it) so they can have a larger cast. I know in 2004, even the biggest names weren’t making that much money (still a considerable amount, like $40,000 even for the top people, IIRC, give or take a few thousand) so they were able to have more people perform, but a few of the athletes on this past year’s tour got upwards of $500,000 because otherwise they’d just take other lucrative opportunities that don’t involve traveling around on a bus for three months.
If a gymnast performs two vaults in qualifications, which is counted toward the team/all-around score?
It’s always the first vault, which is why most gymnasts will do their stronger or higher difficulty vault first. Here’s an interesting and kind of sad story — last summer, Canada was only 0.168 away from making the team final. Had the team had Brittany Rogers compete her second vault first, they would’ve qualified into the team final over the Netherlands by 0.066. I mean, the benefit of hindsight, but that second vault had consistently out-scored her first vault several times last year, so it’s too bad no one thought “let’s put it up first just in case we’re in a close-call situation.”
What is going on with Maggie Nichols?
She had knee surgery at the end of the NCAA season but should be back in action well before she has to start competing again next year.
In the code of points, deductions are 0.1, 0.3, or 0.5, so how do gymnasts end up with scores like 9.866 that go all the way into the hundredth or thousandths?
With five judges on an E panel, the high and low scores are dropped with the remaining three averaged. If the three counting E scores are 9.1, 9.1, and 8.9, for example, these average to 9.033. That’s why you see scores go into the thousandths.
Has Laurie Hernandez retired?
Not officially, no. But I’ve heard from several people that she no longer has any connection to her gym, and that she’s taking other contract opportunities that wouldn’t work out if she also continued in gymnastics. Maybe we will see her make a run for another Olympics, but honestly, based on what I’ve heard and on the fact that physically, she was lucky to make it through 2016, I don’t think we’ll see her back in the sport. You know how Maggie Nichols was kind of at her elite peak around 2015 worlds and even then, she was really pushing her body to get through? Laurie was in the same situation in 2016. Her timing was just a bit luckier than Maggie’s. If she does come back, I can’t see it happening on more than one or two events.
Why do some countries hold national championships so early in the year? What’s the point of having the competition this ahead of worlds?
Worlds is obviously a goal for many countries, but other non-U.S. countries are also looking to pull in medals at meets they see as equally important…like European Championships or the Chinese National Games. Many countries that hold nationals this early also generally hold other domestic or internal verification meets leading up to worlds. Like, Russia generally holds nationals in March and that competition helps decide the Euros team, but then they have the Russian Cup in August or September to help them see where gymnasts stand going into worlds. The majority of countries have nationals between April and August, and all of those that hold them on the earlier side tend to have other selection measures for worlds in place besides nationals on their own.
What competitions are the apparatus world cup qualifiers for the Olympics?
The apparatus world cups held beginning with Cottbus in 2018 and going through the end of the world cup series in spring 2020. At the end of the two-season series (2018-2019 and 2019-2020) the gymnasts who have accumulated the most overall rankings-based points on each event will get berths to the Olympic Games for that event only.
I just saw a video of Ashleigh Gnat training an Amanar. Is there any chance she would go elite?
No. First of all, the Amanar was done on a mat over a lowered pit, meaning it’s nowhere near competition-ready. Secondly, she explicitly said in the caption for that video “now I can retire.” Her throwing the Amanar was more a goal of hers to tackle that skill before finishing her career than it was an attempt at going elite.
Is there less of a discrepancy difficulty-wise between men’s NCAA and men’s elite than there is with the women?
Yes, mainly because the path the women take is generally J.O. to NCAA to retirement or J.O. to elite to NCAA to retirement, but the path most men take is generally J.O. to NCAA to elite. Many men competing NCAA are simultaneously competing at the elite level, because men reach physical maturity at a later age than women and tend to be at the right age for their top difficulty while they’re in college or beyond. Some women obviously will compete elite beyond college age, but for men, almost all seniors are 18 or older, which is also why the men’s scoring system is the elite system at all levels rather than perfect 10 in J.O. and NCAA and then open-ended in elite.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins