You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


It’s time for the 181st 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.

If a gymnast had difficult acro on beam but poor execution in her leaps and jumps, could she get all of her difficulty from acro alone?

No…gymnasts have to count three acro skills, three dance skills, and the dismount into their total, leaving room for only one optional skill that can fit into either the acro or dance category. If a gymnast has a routine that’s seven acro skills and a dismount, she’d only get credit for four of those acro skills and the dismount, and she’d also be missing the turn requirement and the connected dance requirement, losing another point there. On top of that, with only five skills counting in the routine, she’d get a short exercise neutral deduction of 4 points.

An example…a routine with seven E acro skills, an E dismount, 2 points in CR, and 0.5 in CV on the surface looks like a 6.5 routine and with a 9 execution, that’s a solid 15.5 routine! But when you take away three skills and a point in CR, it’s only a 4.0 D score, and even if you’d still get a 9 E score, you then have -4.0 in ND, so your total score would be a 9. So yeah, you could do a routine like that, but only if you’d want a really low score. A gymnast would be much better off getting deducted for weak dance skills than taking them out entirely.

Why do some gymnasts do bars without grips?

It’s just a personal preference. Some gymnasts like feeling the bar and have a hard time judging how good their grip is with a layer of fabric between their hands and the bar. Usually if you grow up using grips right away you will always want grips, but if you grow up with no grips or with using just gauze or something simple and light, that’s how you’ll always like it.

How famous are Catalina Ponor and Larisa Iordache in Romania?

I think they’re well-known enough so that most people would know them the way that in the U.S. most people know top athletes like Serena Williams even if they don’t watch tennis or whatever. I think they’re definitely more famous than most American gymnasts are in the U.S. because gymnastics is one of the biggest sports in Romania, but they’re not like superstar celebrities or anything.

If Romania qualifies to Tokyo but doesn’t get specialist spots, do you think Catalina Ponor would make the team?

Yeah. If they have three all-arounders and their choice for a fourth gymnast is a fourth all-arounder who can get like a 51 or Catalina Ponor who can get like a 42-43 for three events, Catalina would be much more worth taking so she can boost the totals on vault, beam, and floor even if it means having only three going up on bars in qualifications. They’re likely going to get a low bars score no matter what, so they might as well boost their scores everywhere else.

Once Larisa Iordache gets her all-around back, who is more valuable — her or Catalina Ponor?

I mean, they’re equally valuable to the team because Romania has literally no one else and needs both of them for the team. Larisa has more medal-winning potential on the individual side of things but if they didn’t have Catalina right now they’d be in even more trouble than they’re already in.

What teams do you think will be in the top five this quad?

I’m gonna go with the United States, Russia, China, Japan, and maybe either Great Britain or Germany. Both of the latter two teams are in a similar position right now where they have to rely on veterans with no super promising juniors coming up to replace the seniors…Germany does have Emelie Petz who is capable of big scores, and Great Britain has some kids who are good but who aren’t like, out of this world yet…but even so, the bulk of team scores from both countries right now will come from veterans. Either one of them could be in the top five. We’ll just have to wait and see who is able to come out on top. Edit: Oh my goodness, I forgot Italy! If their juniors work out, then GOD YES, they’ll be right up there.

Is Russia right now the 2005-2014 version of Romania that miraculously hangs on until they don’t?

Not really. Russia has far more depth than Romania, and even though their younger gymnasts aren’t quite as good as the gymnasts like Aliya Mustafina or whatever, their B team is still much better than the A teams from most countries. And they can legitimately put a team together with all kids who turned senior in the past couple of years and be fine, while some upcoming juniors are also pretty strong. They don’t always have the best junior to senior transitions, but they’re still miles ahead of Romania. If everyone who was a big deal last quad retired, there would still be a great level of talent going forward to 2020.

Why don’t we see more pirouettes on bars from countries other than China?

We see pirouettes from every country on bars because pirouettes are a required skill. The one-armed front swing pirouettes like the Healy, Ono, and Ling are just popular in China because that’s what the coaches there like teaching when constructing routines, whereas there are different trends for various events in other countries.

What happens if FIG-approved equipment falls apart during a major competition? Does the gymnast get to repeat the routine? What can the federation do? Compensation? Lawsuits?

She’d get to repeat the routine if the mistake happens because the equipment breaks down. I’m not sure what the federation can do…they generally know going in that equipment problems are always going to be a thing, especially when equipment is always put together by volunteers and there’s a big chance for human error. If the gymnast is injured, there’s probably something they can do legally in terms of compensation, but if she’s able to get back up and finish her routine on a new set of bars or whatever, they probably wouldn’t bother? I mean, the vault in Sydney was a human error issue and a lot of people fell and one gymnast got injured but I don’t think any lawsuits came out of that.

What do you think about Zhu Xiaofang this year? Do you think she could win a beam gold? Or was it just Chinese home scoring?

She’s unfortunately retiring this year…a whole wave of retirements is coming after the National Games and she’s on that list, sadly. I thought her beam at Chinese Championships was good but generally it’s not a strong enough routine especially considering her own teammates are all capable of beating her there (namely Wang Yan, Liu Tingting, and Luo Huan, all of whom made the worlds team over Xiaofang).

Why didn’t Diana Bulimar compete floor in Romania’s team qualification in London even though they used her for team finals?

I believe that spot was between her and Diana Chelaru in qualifications, and since they were both generally pretty close in terms of what they could do on that event, they probably just opted for whoever was looking better in training leading up to qualifications. They probably knew Sandra Izbasa and Catalina Ponor would be most likely to make the final, and then they wanted Larisa Iordache in the all-around final, so the other qualifications spot didn’t really matter aside from just contributing to the overall team score. It was probably between the two Dianas, so it would make more sense to put Chelaru in if she looked better in training, and then maybe Bulimar looked better in training going into the team final, or perhaps there was some other reason that made them want to replace Chelaru. I don’t remember there being a big over-arching reason for this but sometimes it happens when a team has a lot of depth on one event.

Do gymnasts submit routines before they compete them? What if a gymnast planned a 6.0 SV routine but then suddenly changed/upgraded everything?

They don’t submit routines. They can go out and compete whatever routine they feel like competing, and it’s the job of the D panel to come up with the D score based on the skills that are presented. That’s why you sometimes see gymnasts doing simpler routines in qualifications and then put in all of their upgrades for finals, because the judges have to go off of what they see in the moment, not on what they ‘expect’ the routine to be or whatever. The only time something is submitted to judges is when there’s a new skill and they want it evaluated to get it named/in the code.

In 2000, Ekaterina Lobaznyuk’s second front aerial looked like a front layout stepout taking off of two feet. Would this still be considered a front aerial if submitted, or would it be its own skill?

It was just a second front aerial. I think because it was connected out of the first front aerial, it had to come off of two feet because that’s how she landed the first aerial, and she couldn’t have taken a step out of it before going into the second front aerial if she wanted them to be connected, but the skill itself is still a front aerial.

I see a lot of male coaches in WAG, but no female MAG coaches. Are there any?

There are a couple, and a couple of female MAG judges as well. It’s definitely more rare, but it’s not against any rules.

How does a neutral deduction work in relation to other deductions? If a gymnast takes a step out-of-bounds on her tumbling pass, does she get a regular deduction for the step AND a neutral deduction for the OOB?

Basically, yes. The step forward out of a pass is an execution deduction, so whether it happens inbounds or out-of-bounds, it’s a tenth no matter what. But if it happens out-of-bounds, it’s also subject to a neutral deduction, separate from the execution deduction. If a gymnast sticks a pass out-of-bounds, however, she wouldn’t get a landing deduction, but would still get the neutral deduction for going outside the lines.

Would you like to see the six gymnasts per team happen again?

Yeah, I love big teams because you can play more with strategy and it’s just more variety in general. Now with four person teams there’s literally no strategy. It’s like…okay, everyone does the all-around in qualifications, and that’s it, bam, done. It’s kind of boring and I don’t understand how the FIG doesn’t realize that. That said, there are aspects to a small team that I do like…especially in that it gives a greater number of teams internationally a chance to have a higher-performing team. But I personally will always prefer larger teams that allow for some strategy.

What do you think the future holds for Simone Biles? Will she try for a second Olympics?

It seems like she really wants to try for a second one, which will be awesome. I’m personally invested because it would be incredible if she could defend her title, and I’d also like her to smash all of the U.S. medal records.

What is that little piece of equipment that sits at the end of the vault runway where the gymnasts start?

It basically just points to where the beginning of the runway starts. It’s a deduction if they start their run before that spot, so it’s like a physical reminder of where they have to start the run.

What’s the most falls you’ve ever seen in a bars or beam routine at the elite level? What about NCAA? If you fell enough times, would you get a negative E score?

I recently saw someone fall six times from bars. Generally coaches see kids start to get mentally frustrated after two or three falls and so they’re like “okay just stop your routine,” but this kid wasn’t mentally flustered, she was just trying to get through all of her skills, so she kept going and kept falling. She was thankfully in good spirits after, and kind of was like yeah that was a disaster, but my goodness it was a rough routine, haha. Beam…probably four times? With shorter routines in NCAA, I don’t think I’ve seen more than one fall off of bars, though it’s possible I’ve seen two and just don’t recall. Beam…maybe three? You can’t really get a negative score…you’d have to fall like, eight times on top of two points of other deductions just to get to an E score of 0. The lowest E scores I’ve seen have been around a 4. I guess if a gymnast fell eight times on floor, had a D score of like a 2, got another few points in E score, AND stepped out-of-bounds every chance they got, the score would be negative, but usually in a case like that the judges would just hand out a courtesy score of 1.0.

Has anyone done a “Requiem for a Dream” floor routine at the Olympics  recently?

Maybe in 2012? I can’t remember anyone doing it in Rio. Catalina Ponor had that music in 2012, but got rid of it before London, and Ayelen Tarabini had it last quad, I think in 2015, but she didn’t make it to the Olympics.

What would happen if a gymnast was so far forward on a bars/beam dismount or vault that they did a front tuck and stuck the landing? Are there landing deductions? Could we see intended punch fronts out of dismounts or vaults in the future?

It would be considered a fall because the salto out of the forward landing would be their way of avoiding getting hurt. Even if they stuck the landing out of it (which would be almost physically impossible because if they’re so far forward on a landing that they have to salto out of it, that salto would maybe take them to their butt at best) it wouldn’t be worth anything because there’s no such thing as doing a salto out of a dismount. The whole point of doing a dismount is to show control on a difficult skill at the end of a routine, and so doing an easy supplementary skill out of the dismount to help control the landing kind of defeats the purpose. That’s why we also don’t see punch fronts out of vaults.

How many coaches did Dominique Moceanu train with between the Olympics and Luminita Miscenco?

I think two…whoever was at her parents’ gym right after the Olympics and then I think she went to train with Mihai and Silvia Brestyan for a bit. I’m not sure of the timing exactly but I’m pretty sure she was with the Brestyans in 1997 and then went to Miscenco in 1998.

Why did the open-ended code begin in 2006 instead of 2005?

I always wonder this myself. My understanding is that the FIG wasn’t planning on introducing the new code until years later, but the old code led to SO many problems at the 2004 Olympic Games, they were kind of pressured to bring it in sooner and while it wasn’t ready by 2005, they managed to push it out by 2006.

Is there somewhere I can read the rules about how to qualify to Tokyo 2020?

I wrote an article about it hereThe FIG also generally has the procedure up here, but for some reason only the Youth Olympic Games rules are available right now.

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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18 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Emma McLean had a disastrous bars routine in NCAA this year. I think she fell three or four times on the same skill before the coach put a stop to the routine.


  2. on Dominique Moceanu coaches Jeff LaFleur; Béla and Márta Károlyi; Luminița Miscenco; Mary Lee Tracy; Alexander Alexandrov, Béla and Márta Károlyi


  3. The question about the equipment failing reminds me of this Tourischeva bars routine, which remains one of my favourite things of all time!


  4. I would love to see six on a team again. It seemed like we got to see more talent and a greater variety of skills and styles with the six up five count. Also there was greater competition within the team to make finals


  5. There are some of female MAG judges:
    Kathi Sue Rupp, USA (World Cup 2016 and International Tournament GBR vs. ESP 2015)
    Amanda Stroud, USA (AT&T American Cup Individual All-Around and World Cup 2017)
    Nicola Hanley, GBR has a 1st Cathegory (AT&T American Cup Individual All-Around, World Cup 2017, 32nd European Championships 2016, International tournament ESP-GBR 2014, European Championships 2014, International Tournament FRA-GBR-GER-SUI 2014, 44th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships 2013, World Cup 2013)
    Janet Davies, GBR (Guimaraes International Tournament 2017, World Challenge Cup 2016, World Cup 2016, International Tournament GBR vs. ESP 2015, International Tournament FRA/GBR/GER/SUI 2015, XXth Commonwealth Games)
    Claire McAneny, GBR (XXth Commonwealth Games, World Cup 2013)
    Joanie Fortin, Canada (University of Calgary International Cup 2016)
    Melanie Jenkins, AUS (Australian Youth Olympic Festival 2013)
    Kathleen Elizabeth Graham, AUS (Australian Youth Olympic Festival 2013)
    Caroline James, AUS


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