You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


It’s time for the 169th 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.

At the end of the Super Six, UCLA came out with an incomplete roster. Does that mean if UCLA had won the national title, some gymnasts wouldn’t have been able to celebrate and earn the national title rings?

I’m pretty sure anyone on the team gets a ring, whether they competed or were there or not. So those who were in the stands or whatever wouldn’t get to celebrate on the floor during the award ceremony, but they’d still get rings and would go to the party the teams tend to hold afterwards. They’re still part of the team even if they didn’t make the cut to be on the floor that particular night.

I heard UCLA is petitioning for Peng Peng Lee to compete another year. How is that possible, if she already redshirted?

So the rule here is that athletes get five years to compete four years of eligibility, with that additional year there just in case a gymnast is injured and has to redshirt. While that’s generally a hard and fast rule, there are sometimes special cases, and those athletes can petition for an additional year. If anyone’s a special case, it’s Peng Peng Lee, with her insane back-to-back injuries that forced her to miss two years in a row. Some athletes would choose to move on at that point, because chances are they’ve already graduated and aren’t doing a grad program and don’t have a reason to stick around to keep competing, but if someone like Peng who missed two years due to injury still has a reason to be at school (I don’t know what her situation is academically but am guessing at this point she’s in grad school?) then she might as well keep competing if she can, which is why she went and filed a petition for an additional year to finish up her eligibility. I think because her injuries were SO awful in terms of almost ending her career and causing her to miss literally half of her four years, they probably understood how crappy that situation was and were fine with letting her continue.

How do you become All-American in college gymnastics?

There are a few different categories of All-American.

The first is regular season All-American. This is determined once the regular season RQS rankings are in, with the top eight in each individual category (all-around, vault, bars, beam, and floor) making first team All-American and those ranked 9th through 16th making second-team All-American.

Then you have postseason All-American. Here, the top four in each individual category from both preliminary sessions get first team honors, while those who place fifth through eighth in each of the two sessions get second team (so again, you have a total of eight first team and eight second team, but this is a one-shot deal kinda thing where the only performance that matters is that one prelims performance).

Finally, there’s Academic All-American, which is based purely on academic performance. Schools nominate their best candidates, which is partly based on a minimum GPA, but at the same time you also want high levels of athletic achievement. Then SIDs vote on the candidates, first regionally (these are the Academic All-District teams) and then the first team Academic All-District picks those who advance to the national ballot. A student-athlete can be first, second, or third team Academic All-American. There’s also the Scholastic All-American team, which is awarded by the collegiate coaches association, based purely on a minimum GPA. At the Division III level, only seniors are named Academic All-Americans, and it’s based on GPA.

Any idea what happened with Annie Beard and Sloane Blakely this season?

Annie qualified to the elite level at the Parkettes meet in May with a pretty good score, IIRC. I don’t think Sloane has competed this season so I’m not sure what’s going on with her. I haven’t seen any of her scores pop up anywhere for either elite or level 10 and she was slated to compete at the WOGA Classic but withdrew, so it’s possible she was injured and is either skipping this season or waiting to compete at classics (she pre-qualified through last summer’s nationals).

Has any gymnast ever medaled in every event at a worlds or Olympics in the past 20-30 years? Has anyone come close?

At worlds, Helena Rakoczy of Poland got five individual medals in 1950, followed by Soviets Larisa Latynina in 1958 and again in 1962, Natalia Kuchinskaya in 1966, Ludmila Tourischeva and Olga Korbut in 1974, and Elena Shushunova in 1987. Several others have come close, medaling on four out of the five, with Simone Biles of the U.S. being the most recent gymnast to do this in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

As far as the Olympics go, Mariya Gorokhovskaya of the Soviet Union was the first to do it in 1952. She was followed by Larisa Latynina in 1960 and 1964, Vera Caslavska in 1968, and Daniela Silivas in 1988.

Why does Larisa Iordache get low scores on uneven bars?

I think considering her form and technique, her execution scores are generally pretty good? Her scores always come in a little higher than I think they will, especially compared to other gymnasts with similar abilities.

Do you think there is a chance we’ll see a Yurchenko double tuck in WAG?

I’m going to say…not anytime soon? Most of the more gutsy vaulters right now are those who lack the skill to compete the Yurchenko, which is why they do the Produnova, which is more about power than ability (like, with my L4 training from 20 years ago, I could figure out how to throw a Produnova even though physically I wouldn’t be able to get it around without dying). If these gymnasts can’t master easier Yurchenkos, it doesn’t matter how daring or ballsy they are — they won’t be going for a Yurchenko double back. Meanwhile, the gymnasts with the skill to do this are terrified of it because they know they could literally die doing it and it’s absolutely not worth going for it when they can win medals with easier, safer options. Maybe one day we will get a vaulter who is that rare combination of ballsy, powerful, and technically perfect who will end up going for it, but I think most coaches of these gymnasts would be pretty against it given how risky it is.

Why didn’t the Romanian coaches have Silvia Zarzu do more difficult tumbling like double layouts and full-ins?

Romanian tumbling is super weird because they have girls with great potential for upgrades, and yet almost every Romanian does the same exact skills. Silvia is a tricky one because she definitely had the ability to do harder tumbling on floor but maybe didn’t have the consistency to pull it off in a routine?  We don’t know every skill gymnasts train so you never know what they tried getting her to compete but she struggled with actually implementing. Larisa Iordache is really the only Romanian in recent years to do something that kind of breaks the mold with her double double, but even with her, the rest of her tumbling is typical Romanian tumbling.

What is Vanessa Ferrari’s situation right now? Is Carlotta Ferlito back in training?

Both are planning on returning, from what I’ve heard, but I don’t think will be back until 2018 at the very earliest. I’ve seen a few skills Vanessa has been training on her Instagram or wherever else she’s posting them (mostly Instagram probably) but I haven’t seen Carlotta doing anything so I’m guessing she’s just taking a break right now and waiting to come back.

Why did the Canadian gymnasts have such low E scores at Jesolo?

Mostly because the majority of them had really rough execution? I mean…for the majority, anyway, there was a clear difference between their execution and the execution of others. Someone like Ana Padurariu got good E scores because her execution was good. Same with literally every competition…the gymnasts with better execution will be rewarded for it and those with poor form on skills will take hits.

Can you explain the rule that says gymnasts can’t do three skills from the same group?

On bars, the rule is that gymnasts can’t compete three skills from the same entry, which basically means she can’t do a million skills out of either a stalder, an inbar, a clear hip, or a sole circle. Look at Laurie Hernandez’s bars from last year. Literally every skill is a stalder or done from a stalder. This year, she couldn’t do that. Like, she could, but almost none of her skills would get credited. If a gymnast last year competed a Chow, Ricna, Downie, and stalder full, for example, this year she’d have to take one of those skills and change it if she still wanted credit…so she could do a Maloney instead of a Chow, a Hindorff instead of a Ricna, a Church instead of a Downie, or an inbar full instead of a stalder full, just as some examples of other similar skills that use different entries. It’s basically to create a little more variety in routines, and to ensure that gymnasts who are really good at a certain element can’t cheat through a routine by doing that same element repeatedly.

If a team knows they’re weak on a certain event is it a viable strategy to purposely qualify to team finals in a lower position so they can start there and get it over with in team finals?

I guess that could be a strategy, to want to qualify fifth so they start on beam or something, but this would be almost impossible to work out from a logistic standpoint because their finish in the qualification rankings is meaningless without knowing how the other teams are gonna do. The only way they can act out this strategy is to hope that four other teams are better than them and that every other team is worse. They can’t organically make that happen or say “let’s earn a 170.5 to place fifth” or whatever. A more realistic strategy would be training and being prepared for every scenario, which is what they have to do for their starting rotation in qualifications anyway since that’s determined by a draw giving them zero control over it. 

Is it a running not-so-funny gag that Vasiliki Millousi will make it to beam finals at Euros by hitting in qualifications, but then will fall almost every time on her double pike in finals? That’s even worse than the Larisa Iordache EF curse.

Yeah, whenever Vasiliki makes finals I’m like great, another year of getting our hopes up and then being sorely disappointed. She did change her dismount in an effort to fix this, because it sucks to have a really good routine and then ruin it all on your dismount, so given that her dismount was super inconsistent, it made a ton of sense to change it otherwise she’d always have that problem for the rest of her life basically. But then this year she felt like falling in another spot in qualifications, so basically no matter what she does, fate is just not on her side it seems.

Is Giuliana Pino still on the UCLA team?

As of right now, yes, she is. I love her on floor, and given their issues there this year, hopefully she can work on getting stronger there to help out in the future, especially since they’re pretty known for lots of injuries at UCLA!

Do you know if Christina Desiderio will compete NCAA?

Yes, she committed to LSU and will attend beginning in the 2018-2019 season, so next year.

What is a college salute?

A college salute is when a gymnast salutes at the end of her routine, but makes it super over-the-top and dramatic by bending her back as far back as humanly possible instead of just throwing her arms up. It’s basically like, the better the routine, the more dramatic the salute, because it’s like, a fun way to celebrate hitting a routine. No one in elite does it because elite in general is more buttoned-up in terms of celebrating hit routines, but in NCAA if you don’t do a college salute are you really even competing???

Who keeps track of whether a gymnast has broken NCAA eligibility rules? How would the NCAA/a college know that a kid was paid some amount of money to wear/post about a brand on Instagram? Is it the honor code? Is it someone’s job to track this?

The NCAA keeps track. NCAA compliance is like, a legit job that people do for the sole purpose of making sure everyone is on the up-and-up with following all of the rules, and maintaining amateur status is one of the most important rules that athletes have to follow. Part of compliance involves incoming student-athletes becoming certified as amateurs. They have to register for certification as juniors in high school and answer questions about their history, and then while most are approved, if there are any red flags — like pimping brands on Instagram or YouTube — their certification goes into further review and they might be deemed ineligible. I believe in these reviews, the NCAA can look into contracts, financials, and other areas that may show an athlete hasn’t maintained amateur status. Also, most prospective student-athletes with massive social media followings or who are generally famous within their sport are going to be on the radar. So the NCAA isn’t like, stalking every random high school track kid who is literally unknown outside of his school, but you can bet when someone like Madison Kocian is trying to get amateur certification, they’re all over her business.

Why are there so many squat-ons in NCAA bars routines?

No low-to-high transition is required in an NCAA routine, so most gymnasts don’t bother doing them and instead take the easy road with the squat-on so they can focus their difficulty elsewhere, like in a release or on a more difficult dismount. Like, literally anyone doing NCAA can do a basic toe shoot, so it’s not like these girls aren’t capable of doing more advanced transitions…it’s that they don’t have to do one, and so they don’t bother.

Is a Markelov the same as a Khorkina? Why does it have two names?

Yeah, they’re the same. A Markelov is the MAG name and then when Svetlana Khorkina became the first woman to compete the skill, she got it named for her so it’s called the Khorkina in WAG…though generally I’ve seen people still refer to the skill as a Markelov in WAG, and I do the same most of the time. No idea why, just habit probably.

Why doesn’t an inbar piked Tkachev have a name?

A skill can only be named for one gymnast in WAG, so when two or more gymnasts successfully compete the skill at worlds or the Olympics, the skill doesn’t get named for anyone. In 2015, both Sophie Scheder and Kelly Simm successfully competed the inbar piked Tkachev, so now the skill name is forever in limbo. It’s in the code of points and has an element value, but it’s not named for any gymnast.

A lot of leotard companies send free leos to kids and the kids advertise by wearing the leos and posting on social media. Does that compromise NCAA eligibility?

Yes it does. See literally any back issue of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered over the past few months for roughly 7 billion posts I’ve made on the topic. 🙂

You say a straddle isn’t allowed for shaposh transitions. If Khorkina competed today, would she get deducted for leg sepration on her eponymous release?

Yes she would. A Khorkina and any other shaposh variation is meant to be competed with legs together, so when a gymnast competes it with her legs apart, there will be a deduction somewhere around a 0.1 or 0.3 depending on the severity of the leg split.

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


21 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. I think Sloane qualified to Classics via her P&Gs score from last year?

    (Just checked and she made 53.050 Day 1 and 52.400 Day 2, so she’s met the 52.000 from 2016 P&Gs minimum for 2017 Classics)

    I haven’t seen any details about her either (and her IG is private), but WOGA did post a few days ago that she’s verballed to Florida!


  2. Yang Yilin did a semi-college salute when she was in elite; she fulfilled the throw your head back part, but didn’t do the “try to see if you can touch your ankles with your spine” part.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Any idea why American commentators pronounce names so poorly sometimes? Why don’t they look this stuff up ahead of time?

    (I.e. Aliya Mustafina, Tkatchev)


    • That annoying British Lady always says ” Catch-Chev” for Tkatchev and “Musta-Feena” for Mustafina. Like girl, learn how to say things if you want to commentate.


  4. what ever happened to Romanian tumbling?! They used to have great tumblers such as bontas, and ones doing cool moves like cojocar’s front 2.5 and ionescu’s back 3.5! Where are their old tumbling coaches?


    • In the 1980s Belu was the FX coach but not the choreographer. During his tenure as head coach he alienated a lot of good coaches and the federation paid them so poorly that many left. I recall that the choreographer from the 1980s who was responsible for those iconic routines volunteered to come back and help and Belu’s response was basically “we don’t need you.” I think he is in France. (Brain has failed me on the man’s name.)


    • Yurchenko entry + two flips + timing the landing. If a gymnast is ‘off’ in her vault on a difficult single-flip vault like a Rudi or an Amanar, the twist is usually what ends up short, but the flip gets around easily, so the injuries that happen are knees at worst. In a two-flip vault, if the timing is off by a hair, we’re talking major neck and head injuries that lead to paralyzation and death.


  5. Gymnast CAN do three skills from same “root skill”. The FOURTH skill from same root does not count to DV or CR. Root skill is determined by the a) entry and b) direction of the skill. Thus, three skills from “stalder”-tree and three skills from “Endo”-tree is OK. She can even do three (different) inside stalders for full credit. Root skill rule does not apply for kips, giants or casts.


  6. McKayla Maroney trained a yurchenko double back, according to her gymcastic interview, and was told to “never do that again!!” by Marta.


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