It’s time for the 172nd 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.
Why is aerobic gymnastics not a part of USA Gymnastics since it is an FIG discipline? Is the U.S. sending any aerobic gymnasts to the World Games? Does the U.S. compete at aerobic worlds?
I’m not sure…there are aerobic clubs in the U.S., there is a national aerobic championships, and in 2014, Nicole Kaloyanov won the first world championships medal for the U.S. with a silver medal for her performance. However, despite being a FIG discipline with FIG-sanctioned meets, aerobic gymnastics seems to have its own governing body in the U.S., one completely unrelated to USA Gymnastics.
My guess is that it could just be that USA Gymnastics is a relatively young federation, and it seemed to kind of add disciplines along the way as it grew into the huge powerhouse organization it is today. The national association for aerobic gymnastics in the U.S. was founded in 1983, completely separate from USA Gymnastics at its inception and not yet an FIG discipline, so it could just be that it had no desire to merge with a wider governing body once it became legitimate. As of 1989, the national governing body for aerobics is officially the United States Competitive Aerobic Federation (USCAF), which still predates aerobics as an FIG discipline, which happened in 1996. By that point, USA Gymnastics and USCAF were two distinct governing bodies, so while there was possibly a chance to merge the two, it’s likely that there were logistic issues or just a lack of desire to make this work out.
So while USA Gymnastics won’t be sending any aerobic gymnasts to the World Games, I think USCAF as the sport’s national governing body could have sent gymnasts if they qualified any to the event. I don’t see anything on the USCAF website that has any info about teams, though!
Is any U.S. gymnast currently training two vaults?
The only one I know who is training two vaults with hopes of getting a worlds spot to fight for a medal on the event is Jade Carey. If you’re like “who’s that?” it’s because this is her first year competing elite! She qualified to nationals at the American Classic at the ranch and reportedly has an Amanar and a tsuk double full, a combo that could put her on the podium if she hits.
Who do you think has/had the best Bhardwaj?
In terms of both being beautiful and being consistently beautiful, I’m gonna go with Peng Peng Lee. I could watch her do that skill on a loop for the rest of my life. It’s heavenly, and she has perfected it to such an insane degree.
What’s up with Emily Gaskins and Emily Schild?
Emily Gaskins is still competing elite and was supposed to compete at the American Classic, but ended up withdrawing, though she should be at the U.S. Classic. Emily Schild has retired from elite and is currently taking classes at the University of Georgia, where she is a freshman expected to begin competing when the 2018 season begins!
What are ‘timers?’
Timers are basically warmup vaults. If a gymnast typically vaults a Yurchenko double, for example, for her timers, she might just throw a couple of Yurchenko layouts, and then maybe do a full or two before getting to the double. In the gym when gymnasts are training vault, they don’t just go straight to their competition vaults…they usually work on drills and stuff first so they can work their way up to their more difficult skills. So at a competition, it would be pretty unsafe to just casually bust out a difficult vault, and so in the warmup before the meet, they’ll do a couple of easier vaults first so they can just kind of safely work up to the competition vault. Usually timers are about getting air awareness or the feel of the vault in the air, so there’s zero emphasis on landing, which is why you’ll see gymnasts land them to their backs on stacked mats, or flip out of them…it’s so they don’t injure their ankles or knees on a hard landing for something like a warmup!
Is Viktoria Komova training?
Yup! She is hoping to compete this fall. I don’t know if she’ll be ready for worlds, but she’s posted several videos of herself working out and throwing skills in the gym, so hopefully she’ll be back internationally by next year.
Why are Madison Kocian, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, and Laurie Hernandez still on the national team if some of them aren’t even training? How does that work?
Gymnasts are technically on the national team for one year since being named, so from the time they were named in June 2016 to the time the next national team is named in August 2017, those gymnasts are on the national team unless they specifically say they’ve retired. That’s why some gymnasts — Brenna Dowell, Amelia Hundley, Rachel Gowey, Emily Schild, and Maggie Nichols — are all showing up as ‘retired’ on the national team list, because they have specifically said they have retired. But the Final Five likely never said “I’m retired” because they have all expressed interest in maybe returning. Rather than say they’re retired and then decide to make a comeback, it’s easier for them to just be like “yeah I’m still going for 2020” and then decide later on if they’re not going to train or compete again.
Typically gymnasts who are not currently “productive” members of the national team don’t receive funding, so it’s not like these five are getting money to not train or compete. According to the international elite committee meeting from last December, “current national team members must attend the January 2017 camp and meet 80% expectations if they are to continue with funding. If current national team members do not attend, the funding will be distributed to athletes decided upon by the selection committee,” so any new additions to the national team last spring — like Olivia Dunne, Alyona Shchennikova, etc — picked up the funding that girls who retired or who aren’t currently training are no longer receiving.
Does Ashton Locklear get the high bar raised for her at competitions or does she perform skills that accommodate her height well?
She’s actually not that tall!! Hahaha…I’d say maybe a little over five feet. She just looks taller I guess, probably because of her body type? Generally gymnasts (or, well, people in general) look taller if they’re like, kind of long and lean? I always assumed Nastia Liukin was super tall and while she definitely was a little taller than some of her teammates, she still wasn’t as tall as I expected her to be. So no, Ashton definitely does not get the bar raised for her. 🙂
It seems the top all-around scores have gone down since the Olympics. Is this due to a decrease in difficulty? Or due to a change in the code?
Both. First of all, the code changed, getting rid of a 0.5 D dismount requirement on bars, beam, and floor and taking vaults down by about 0.5 each to match, so all-around scores in general will be two points lower on average than they were last quad (so someone getting a 58 AA this quad would be like someone getting a 60 AA last quad). On top of that, scores are generally a bit lower this early in the quad because obviously no one wants to be at full Olympic-level difficulty 3+ years before the next Olympic Games. A gymnast with an Amanar in 2016 might only have a DTY this year, and someone with eight E+ skills on bars in Rio maybe will take out a bunch of inbars and replace them with easier skills. It’s not the case for everyone, and in some instances, we are even seeing upgrades, like Mai Murakami adding an Amanar, Nina Derwael upgrading her bars, Liu Tingting going crazy on beam, Sae Miyakawa adding elements on floor…but none of these gymnasts are the top-level all-around competitors, so you’re not really going to see their big upgrades reflected in the best all-around scores of the season. Once we get to worlds, the scores will start rising a bit, and then by the time we get to the end of this quad, we’ll most likely have gymnasts scoring a 60+ AA in the new code, which would be like a 62 AA last quad.
Is Shang Chunsong still around?
Yup. She’s doing National Games this year, but we’ll see how long she lasts beyond that. She seems to be struggling a lot this year with getting injured mid-routine every other second, so she hasn’t really been one of the top-performing Chinese gymnasts and I don’t think she could get to worlds without some major fixes. But yes, she’s still around and training!
Is Larisa Iordache ready for worlds?
Probably not right this second because it’s July and worlds are nearly three months away, but I expect she’ll be ready by October. She’s hoping to do all-around at Universiade coming up, so that would be a great low-pressure meet to get back into the all-around, and then hopefully she’ll be an all-around medal contender in Montreal.
Is a Grigoras the same thing as an Arabian in the new code?
No, they’re different skills. An arabian is a back flip with a twist halfway that turns it into a front flip, and a Grigoras is a barani, which is a front flip with a half twist (there are several barani skills on beam but a Grigoras is tucked with the twist coming just after the salto). They’re both rated the same (an F I believe) but are different skills.
Is Sanne Wevers the first gymnast to perform an Arabian mount? She’s training one now. What would it be rated?
No, Tina Erceg of Croatia performed a roundoff Arabian several years ago and got it named for her. It’s an F.
Did all three of Russia’s gymnasts fall on beam in 2015? What happened in Seda Tutkhalyan’s routine?
Yes, all three fell, Maria Kharenkova on her L turn and Viktoria Komova on her arabian, though I never got to see Seda’s routine so I’m not sure where her mistake came in…I just know she fell based on her score and someone at the meet later saying to me “Seda fell on beam.”
How competitive is an offer of admission to an NCAA team, especially in the top 12 schools? How many athletes have a full ride scholarship vs a partial vs no scholarship on those top teams compared to less competitive teams?
Everyone in NCAA division I has a full scholarship since they don’t give partial scholarships. It’s pretty competitive for the top schools, but any elite or top level 10 won’t have much of a problem getting into a top ten gymnastics program unless there’s a personality clash with the coach or team or something. In general, there are around 700 NCAA full scholarships at any given time, and the U.S. level 10 and elite programs combined are at about 3000 for all age groups each year. Anywhere from about 300-400 of these gymnasts each year are age-eligible to move from J.O. or elite to NCAA, and the NCAA can provide for more than half of those, so compared to other sports like football and baseball where only 5% of kids who play in high school will get NCAA scholarships, your odds of getting a scholarship are pretty good (around 50%) if you’re level 10, and probably around 100% if you’re an elite. So while it’s definitely competitive in some senses, since each team can only bring in a few kids each year and , compared to other athletes in the top levels of their sports, top-level gymnasts are pretty close to having NCAA spots guaranteed (and those who quite aren’t high-level enough for DI scholarships can always get a partial scholarship in DII, or compete for no scholarship but instead for their passion for the sport in DIII).
Is it possible to lose your NCAA scholarship? If there are five big recruits but only four scholarships available, is it possible to take one away from an underperforming team member?
Yes, gymnasts can lose NCAA scholarships if they violate rules or struggle academically. Coaches can’t really take away scholarships for “underperforming” student-athletes, but they can dismiss athletes for problems with attitude or sportsmanship, so if someone is underperforming and is a bad teammate, they can probably figure out away to drop her. They wouldn’t really be able to take away a scholarship from a weaker athlete on the team just because they want a stronger recruit to come in, though. Sometimes teams do get ‘stuck’ with gymnasts who maybe get injured or aren’t as strong skill-wise as they were when they were recruited, but more often than not, these gymnasts end up helping out in other ways that are just as valuable.
What does it mean that Jazmyn Foberg is going to Florida a year early? Did she finish high school early?
Yup! Often gymnasts who are homeschooled or who have worked out programs with public or private schools that allow them to be able to train at all hours of the day will be able to finish school a bit earlier than students on a regular schedule because they might do classes in the summer or whatever. They also don’t have as many credit requirements, because most homeschool kids don’t have to do like, a phys ed credit, or blow-off classes like woodshop or typing or whatever. In the first semester of my senior year of high school, I had chemistry, ballet, “teacher’s aide,” and chorus. In my sophomore year I had “workplace dynamics” which I still don’t understand the point of to this day, and I also had “webpage design” in which I basically updated the school’s website for free. Reading back over this I’m kind of shocked and low key wanna email my old principal and be like “are you kidding me?” Public high school can be ridiculous with random elective requirements, and had I been homeschooled I probably could’ve finished everything in less than half the time, haha. So I can easily see how gymnasts who really only train and do their schoolwork would finish their high school studies pretty early without all of the distracting classes.
Does a gymnast have to have some type of “English” tie to compete NCAA? Can a gymnast from Romania get a scholarship or become a walk-on?
Most colleges require international students to pass the TOEFL, which is an English language test that measures your ability to use and understand the language. Several NCAA students are from non-English-speaking countries, with Germany and Austria generally sending a couple of gymnasts over every so often. Many Romanian gymnasts tend to accept prizes and sponsors at the elite level, so they wouldn’t be eligible for NCAA in that sense, but if a gymnast who was never really big on the elite scene could understand English well enough to pass the TOEFL and had her academic situation worked out, she could definitely get a scholarship to an NCAA program in the U.S.
Who are your top five favorite gymnasts?
It changes all the time, but right now for those currently competing I’d go with Morgan Hurd, Liu Tingting, Nina Derwael, Mai Murakmi, and Ana Padurariu. Runners up would be Flavia Saraiva, Elena Eremina, and Eythora Thorsdottir.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins
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