It’s time for the 167th 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.
Are you going to classics this year?
I don’t think so. Maybe I’ll decide at the last minute, but after the Olympics I decided to focus the majority of my budget on international meets from now on, since USA Gymnastics has the domestic meets in the U.S. pretty much covered via streaming and posting every routine after the fact. Since I have to use vacation days at work when I travel, I have to plan for that as well. I’d rather travel abroad than continue visiting the same cities in the U.S. over and over again, so this year my big trips are Euros and worlds, and I’m definitely skipping nationals. Since Classics is only one day and I have Summer Fridays, I could make it over there if I wanted, BUT I don’t think I want to deal with the hassle of Hoffman Estates. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere so not only do I have to do the flight and hotel, but I also need to book a car to get to and from O’Hare. Not really worth it for just a 24 hour trip, honestly, especially since literally everything will be online!
It seems like the new system divides gymnasts into all-arounders and one-event specialists. Are there any opportunities for two- or three-event specialists?
They would have to qualify on multiple events. I don’t know if you’re the same person who asked the question below but I’m assuming you are, since these were back to back in my inbox, sent within minutes from one another, so let me get on with this answer using the below as an example.
If Giulia Steingruber decided to go the specialist route to try to qualify for the Olympics this quad and opted to compete vault and floor to give herself more of a buffer, what would happen if she finished first on both?
If she finished first on both, she would qualify on both. Gymnasts who qualify as specialists compete only the event on which they qualify, so specialists on multiple events would have to qualify on multiple events. If Giulia wins the silver on vault and the bronze on floor at worlds in 2019, and if Switzerland doesn’t qualify a full team or she doesn’t qualify an all-around spot, she’ll go for vault and floor thanks to her medals on both.
Do you know what happened to Olga Roschupkina?
I didn’t hear much about her after she finished her career in 2002, though I believe she was coaching in Canada at one point, around 2010 or so.
Who do you think is the best all-arounder (someone who could medal on all four events) in recent history?
Simone Biles or Aliya Mustafina, definitely. Simone medaled on three of the four events three years in a row in 2013, 2014, and 2015, and placed 4th on bars in 2013, so she was only a couple of tenths away from medaling on every single event that year. As for Aliya, she had a similarly good record in 2010 where she medaled on all but beam, and then when she came back to worlds in 2013, she got a gold on beam to make up for it. To me, these are the ‘truest’ all-arounders in the past couple of quads in that while they have standout events, their weak events in their prime actually weren’t really ‘weak’ at all. Like, Simone’s bars at their strongest were pretty solid, and while her quality of gymnastics weakened on beam and floor, Aliya was great on both at her peak as an all-arounder. Maybe Simone wasn’t the best bar worker and Aliya wasn’t the greatest floor worker, but most all-arounders have much more glaring weaknesses that they’d never come close to medaling on.
Do you know of any gymnasts who used “Paso Doble” music on floor?
I can’t think of anyone who has used it…I don’t know it by name and I just listened but it doesn’t sound familiar, at least not as something I’ve heard in the past few years. It looks like it’s popular in skating, rhythmic, and ballroom, but I’m not bringing to mind anyone in artistic that has used it.
Do you think Simone Biles will come back with all of her old skills or will she downgrade?
It’ll depend on her fitness level, how much time she gives herself before returning, and a bunch of other things. Based on random videos she posts when she casually steps into the gym and throws her eponymous skill after not being in a gym for months, and based on the fact that she’s still super in shape, I don’t think it’ll be as hard for her to come back to her old level as it is for most gymnasts.
At age 14, have gymnasts really already toured schools and gotten to know coaches enough to make a decision like committing to college? Can that verbal offer be pulled at any time for any reason?
Yeah, in a few cases, especially for elite gymnasts. Most level 10 gymnasts might start looking into programs at that age but won’t go on official meetings or verbally commit until they’re about 16 or 17, but in the past decade or so it’s been very common for elite gymnasts to start the recruiting process much too young…I’ve seen elites in seventh grade verbally commit to programs in the past few years. It’s ridiculous. And yes, a verbal offer is just that — verbal. The coaches and gymnasts make it known to each other that this is how they’re planning to sign, but because there’s nothing formal in place, either party can pull out for whatever reason. Usually they do end up following through, but occasionally a gymnast will get injured or something and the school will back out. That happened with Ashley Lambert, who verbally committed to LSU and then broke her back, causing LSU to withdraw the offer. Thankfully for her, Nebraska had a spot and she’s been doing great over there! For gymnasts committing at 12-14, there’s still close to five years before they actually end up attending the school, and anything can happen in that period. It makes literally no sense for either side to decide that early on, and most coaches and gymnasts are fully against it, but because that’s what every school was doing, coaches against it had to keep up the practice to make sure they weren’t missing out on recruits. It was a never-ending cycle but I think there are measures coming out maybe this summer that will put a stop to the recruiting of fetuses, thankfully.
Was there anyone whose best events are bars and floor? Most tend to be vault and floor, bars and beam, and beam and floor specialists. I’ve never seen someone who has bars and floor, though. Is it because they’re so different?
It’s rare, but it does happen. Generally they tend to be the more ‘powerful’ and aggressive bar workers like Beth Tweddle and Brenna Dowell, my two favorite examples of gymnasts who considered these two events their standout events. Larrissa Miller is also a recent example of someone who excelled at both at a high level, and if you go through each year of elite competition, you could definitely pick out a few each year who fit that rare but awesome combination.
Do you think it would be outrageous for Aly Raisman to compete a Produnova?
Probably, just in the sense that she hasn’t done anything like that on vault before…like, no front handspring vaults in general, let alone the crazier ones for women, like the Rudi. Like, if Alicia Sacramone was like “I’m gonna try to tackle a Produnova!” I’d be like crazy, but makes sense. But it would be bizarre for Aly to do it, unless she starts really working on front handsprings and is like yo I think I got this! I’m gonna try a Produnova! Again, crazy, but I’ve seen crazier.
Why do some gymnasts have heavily-taped ankles on beam?
Generally you see heavily-taped ankles when gymnasts are trying to reduce the stress of an impact. Beam doesn’t have the same kind of impact that floor tumbling or vaulting does, but it has lots of smaller impacts, if that makes sense. Jumps and aerials look simple and painless, but as someone who does ballet regularly and has at least ten minutes of each class dedicated to jumps, that repetitive impact really can affect your ankles. This weekend I had to do a glissade-assemblé-sissone combination a million times, all done petit, with very little boost off the ground, and after doing it several times, my ankles — which are pretty freaking strong — started complaining. Beam on its own won’t be a huge ankle-cruncher, but if a gymnast has ankle problems already and/or is also competing other events in that same meet (e.g. an all-around or team performance), she’s better off fully protecting them just in case. Sometimes all it takes is a little jolt on a landing from a jump or a tuck on beam to awaken the beast of a full-blown ankle injury.
Do you think Morgan Hurd could fit another half or full twist into her double double on floor?
Probably! I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s thrown it into the pit like this…she’s a great twister and has tons of power for a wee one!
Could Daiane Dos Santos have challenged Simone Biles?
I think so, yeah…depending on how she at her peak would revamp her floor routines to be at her maximum competitive level under the same code Simone competed under. It’s hard to judge her 2001-2004 routines compared to Simone’s 2016 routine, because they didn’t have the same requirements or expectations, but I think if someone in her peak quad gave her the 2016 code, she could come up with something comparable to Simone’s level of difficulty and could probably come close to matching her in terms of execution.
Why does Riley McCusker do two wolf turns on beam when they only credit skills once?
She does a double wolf turn and a triple wolf turn. Because the two turns have a different number of rotations, even though they’re both wolf turns, they’re not the same skill in the code and are worth different values. I think it’s awful routine construction in terms of aesthetics, which won’t win over any hardcore fans, but it’s a smart #codehack construction because she is knocking two highly-valued dance elements off right away, boosting her D score and meeting requirements.
Do the top NCAA teams get sponsorships? Some teams take private jets and have heaps of sportswear.
Most top D1 athletic programs have a crap ton of money, which is how they can afford top-level facilities, private jets (though it can actually be cheaper to charter a private jet than to book commercial for a whole team of athletes), and an endless supply of gear. Most schools will work exclusively with brands, but that’s a program-wide sponsorship, not a sponsorship of the gymnastics team, generally. Like, Under Armour sponsors all of Auburn’s athletics, Nike sponsors all of Oregon State, and so on, which probably gets them great deals on their gear, but Nike and Under Armour aren’t paying for the flights or anything for these teams.
Did this year’s NCAA Championships have the highest number of world and Olympic competitors participating?
I believe so, yes! I can’t think of any other year where the number was this high.
Why is there an E cap on dance elements?
Because generally the most difficult dance element that can physically be performed won’t be anywhere near as difficult as the more difficult tumbling elements that can be performed. Like, I can work on and perfect a quadruple turn without any gymnastics background, and if I make this happen, bam, I have an E skill on floor and I’m not a gymnast. But I can’t perform even the most basic of gymnastics tumbling, which is the case for most people who have never trained within the sport, let alone a double arabian, which is an E skill in the tumbling category. So the thinking is kind of like, dance elements aren’t as hard as tumbling, which in a sense is true. Dance elements are just as hard to perfect and achieve high E scores while competing, and Sanne Wevers’ back to back turns are insanely hard to do on beam, but in the grand scheme of things they’re not as physically difficult to perform as tumbling skills are, so they limit the dance skills because say someone does decide to do an octuple pirouette on floor…is that really the same level of difficulty as doing a Moors? Nope, it’s not. So I get the reasoning behind limiting difficulty, but I don’t like that it can limit innovation in dance skills. I think a good compromise would be making element values go up in half-tenth increments rather than full tenth increments, so they can still have an open-ended level of dance but not have easier dance skills worth the same as clearly more difficult tumbling skills (so an A skill would be worth 0.05, a B would be 0.1, a C would be 0.15, a D would be 0.2, and so on).
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Article by Lauren Hopkins