It’s time for the 183rd 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 did the Merkova twins have to retire?
Vendula unfortunately had medical issues that forced her to miss a couple of months of training and it was sadly best for her to retire from the sport. Adela had injury issues and struggled to get back to full health, so she also ended up retiring this summer as well. I’d imagine not having her sister around to help her get through that injury was probably hard for her, honestly. Such a sad thing for the girls and for their country. They were so promising and had a lot of potential. It’s such a bummer that they’re no longer around, but in Vendy’s case especially, it was necessary, and I hope they’re both able to be happy and healthy in all other aspects of life.
What happened with Riley McCusker? What is her injury? Do you think she came back too soon?
She has a ‘minor’ stress fracture and they thought it was best to keep her out of worlds this year, as their goal is the long-term and they don’t want to push too hard to get her to Montreal and then see her not at her best there. In my opinion, the ‘pushing too hard’ already happened, first to get to classics and then to get to nationals, but hey. She did make nice progress between classics and nationals, so it’s clear a healthy Riley will be very successful.
In the draw for world qualifications, each country has three spots max for WAG. What about the fourth athlete?
Worlds this year is four per team, but only three up in qualifications. No more than three athletes from any country can compete on each event, so there’s no fourth spot because the fourth athlete has to sit that event out.
Is Bailie Key going to Alabama NOW? Can you tell us the full story about her injury and decision? How did she get injured and why couldn’t she recover?
Yes, Bailie is currently at Alabama and is going to begin competing in the 2018 season. The full story is basically that she had her growth spurt and multiple injuries (with the biggest being elbow and back, I believe) at the same time and was never able to fully recover or get back her complete level of difficulty that she once had as a junior.
Why don’t men do leaps and jumps on floor?
There’s probably something sexist about them being “too girly” or making the sport too similar to dance. I think that’s the reason why they only tumble and do strength elements on floor, whereas the women do full performances, choreography, and dance elements in addition to tumbling. Men are so against doing the kinds of routines the women do even though there are so many male dancers in the world and dance is literally not “a girl thing” but there is that stigma about male dancers and a stigma about male gymnasts, so many of the “macho” male gymnasts I’ve seen really feel attacked by the whole “girliness” aspect of the sport and are probably like, we get enough crap from people, imagine if we also had to dance? They want gymnastics to be more of an athletic thing, and so despite being athletic feats themselves, dance elements like leaps and jumps would add to that “girly” stigma. Sad but true.
Have we seen athletes from Jordan at the elite level?
We actually saw a gymnast from Jordan, Ruba Al-Daoud, at the Paris Challenge Cup this weekend. She has competed at other world/challenge cups in the past, including Varna last year, and she also competed at the 2015 Bosphorus Tournament in Turkey with teammates Lara Awward, Namaty Al-Hendi, and Tala Haddad, all of whom are registered with the FIG. I’m not sure why they don’t go to bigger competitions, like worlds…they don’t have the most difficult routines, but they’re not any worse off than some other weaker/smaller programs that attend, so it must be an issue of resources.
Is Shang Chunsong injured?
She injured herself on two different bar routines this year, but nothing major. It seems now she is going to retire, having not been selected to compete on this year’s worlds team.
Is there a machine that can combine Ioana Crisan and Olivia Cimpian? I think Crimpian would be an asset to Romania.
If only! There are many gymnasts like that where I’m like if only we could just turn you into one single person. Like, can you imagine Madison Kocian and Alyssa Baumann as a bars/beam specialist if they would just morph into one human being?! Unstoppable.
If the leos used at the Olympics are the national team leos for the whole year, why do they end up only using two?
Not everyone on the national team got every single Olympic leo. The kit is much smaller for those who continue on into the post-Olympic year.
Why did Elizabeth Price retire from elite in 2014?
She had to make the decision to either continue to try for worlds that year or enter Stanford that fall as a freshman. If she didn’t enter as a freshman that fall, she would’ve had to wait until the fall of 2015 because Stanford wouldn’t allow her to enter in the spring, so she couldn’t just skip her fall semester to go to worlds and then show up ready to start college in January. She could’ve pushed college back by a year, but by that point she was dealing with injuries and didn’t really see the worth in possibly getting even more injured continuing elite when making the worlds team wouldn’t have been a guarantee.
Is there anywhere to watch the 2014 Pacific Rim Championships online?
There are videos on the USA Gymnastics YouTube channel but I haven’t seen the full broadcast online.
Are there any vegan or vegetarian gymnasts out there?
Laney Madsen actually just became a vegan, and a former Canadian elite who will begin competing for Arkansas soon, Sydney Laird, is vegan. I’m not sure if there are others, or who the others might be, but these are two I know for sure!
Why do U.S. national judges lean towards overscoring if it gives athletes and coaches an inaccurate expectation for international scoring?’
U.S. national scoring should be the least of your concerns, lol. Literally every single country has scoring that would be out of whack with international scoring, which is why a hit routine at Euros this year was lower than any similar routines we saw at domestic meets in Russia, Italy, Germany, and literally any European country. I did a comparison between domestic and international scoring in 2015 and 2016, and generally the U.S. scores were almost identical to scores the gymnasts received at international meets, and in some cases — like Aly Raisman’s bars last year, and pretty much all of Aly’s scores in 2012 — scores were much higher internationally than they were at home.
The U.S. and China have some of the more consistent scores compared to what they get at the Olympics or worlds, whereas Russia, Romania, and many other countries have a wider difference between domestic and international scores…and even then it’s not SO bad that it should be a concern. Russia sometimes gets a little ridiculous, especially on beam, but even they’re pretty close to what they get internationally. The only time domestic scores were SO insane at home that it caused inaccurate expectations was Romania in 2012. Their scores at home were SO high, and for some reason, everyone had it in their heads that the judges at Romania’s domestic meets were the same exact judges that would be in London (I literally have no idea how this rumor started), so they were convinced that the Romanian women would win gold and Romanian stans were all over the internet talking about how the U.S. was gonna lose.
The U.S. got scored pretty much on par with how they scored at home that year, and Romania scored way lower than their domestic scores. Even now, Romanians are scoring at least two or three points higher in the all-around at home than they are internationally (so many juniors got a 14.7 on floor at home last year which was hilarious because then internationally those same routines got low 13s), so yeah, if you’re worried about inaccurate expectations, there are plenty of countries that should be the recipients of your concern but the U.S. isn’t really one of them. Occasionally a routine will get a way higher E score than you’d expect it to get internationally, but for the most part it doesn’t end up being more than a couple of tenths off.
How do you pronounce Kalyany Steele’s first name?
I believe it’s Kal-YAH-nee. At least that’s how I heard people saying it to her at the U.S. Classic!
Has anyone ever hurt their abdominal or pelvic structure doing full-twisting Rufolvas or any skill that involves landing into a clear hip circle from a back flip or leap?
Whenever I watch the Florida gymnasts do the Shushunova down to the beam into the clear hip I wince in pain because I can only imagine how that hurts, hahaha. I’m sure many, many people have felt that pain before!
Why do Morgan Hurd and Alyona Shchennikova wear loose bands around their knees?
These are patella bands, which press on the patellar tendon and tighten up the knee mechanism, providing support to the knee cap so that is it not constantly thumping against the femur. The effort not only helps to ease the discomfort of patella-femoral pain syndrome, but it keeps the cartilage that would normally prevent contact from degenerating any further. Basically, it’s a preventative measure for those who may already deal with knee pain or who just want to prevent wear-and-tear injuries.
Why didn’t Nica Hults end up going to UCLA?
She came back to level 10 in 2016, but then got injured again, I believe falling on her head during competition on floor, which kind of scared her out of competing. She was already having issues with conquering fear in the sport, so this was really rough on her and she was unable to keep training/competing, which meant no NCAA for her, sadly.
Is it possible for a non-U.S. gymnast to get an NCAA scholarship? Could Shang Chunsong compete NCAA if her TOEFL score was good enough?
Yup! Sometimes NCAA programs will give scholarships to international gymnasts if they have the room available. Other times, if they don’t have a scholarship spot open, they’ll instead look into grants or other ways to pay for college. I’ve also seen international gymnasts get academic scholarships, and compete more as walk-ons if for some reason they can’t get an international NCAA scholarship. So yes, if Chunsong got a good TOEFL score and passed whatever other admission requirements she’d have to reach, she could get an NCAA scholarship, but if she didn’t get an NCAA scholarship, there would be other funding options for international students as well.
What happens if a gymnast has a wobble on something that is neither acro or dance? Is there a deduction?
Yes. I’ve seen gymnasts trip on choreo before and wobble, so even though it’s not technically a skill, they still would get deducted for a wobble.
Was Aliya Mustafina overscored in the 2012 bars final?
I don’t think so. I think the people who complain about it are probably just biased and wanted others to win. I think the ranking was pretty accurate from what I remember, and when routines are as close as those routines were, there are always going to be people saying the winner didn’t deserve it.
Do you see the U.S. dominance ending anytime soon?
Not really. Not in the next decade or so, anyway. Even if the gymnasts aren’t as strong right this second as they were last quad, they have such an incredible foundation built that even with athletes at a slightly lower level, they’ll still have enough depth at that level to be able to maintain dominance over every other country, nearly all of which are dealing with depth issues right now. The U.S. will continue to dominate unless other programs figure out how to create a program as sustainable as the U.S. program.
If Brooklyn Moors performs a new skill on bars or floor, will it be named the Moors or the Moors II?
I’ve never seen something like this before, at least that I can remember, so I think they might just differentiate by doing like, the B. Moors and the V. Moors? Skills are actually given the gymnasts’ full names, so in the code you’ll see the two differentiated by having their first names in there as well as their last names, so I could see them officially becoming known as the Moors with whatever initial came in front of it, since the current Moors in the code is Victoria’s skill, so to have a Moors II would insinuate that it’s a second skill named for Victoria Moors.
Are judges more lenient with crediting connections like the required A+A leap series? I noticed Katelyn Ohashi had a split jump after her switch ring and sometimes there was a pause, even though her connection was credited to fill a requirement…but I don’t think that otherwise would’ve been credited like a D+A.
I don’t think I fully understand this question or the examples, since Katelyn’s leap series you bring up wasn’t an A+A. If connections are slow, they don’t get credited, and it doesn’t matter if they’re ‘simple’ connections or more difficult ones. Also, the requirement isn’t to connect an A+A leap series…the requirement is that gymnasts have to connect two dance elements, one of which must be 180 degrees. This could be two A+A leaps, but it could also be a switch leap to switch half or a split leap to full turn or something. Generally it’s easier to connect A+A skills, so you will see more A+A skills connected than a more difficult CV series, but there’s no leniency if something’s easier.
Do you think Ana Padurariu could potentially medal at worlds next year?
Yup! I think she’d be a huge contender for a beam medal.
Do you think Jenny Rowland is doing a good job as Florida’s head coach, or is she still living in Rhonda Faehn’s legacy? Do you think Rhonda regrets her decision to leave the Gators?
The only time I thought “ugh, bad timing, Rhonda” was when the Larry Nassar scandal started, which I’m sure made her job a whole lot crazier. I was like ugh, imagine getting a new dream job and this is the situation you walk into?! Poor gal. I think Jenny is doing fine. I don’t think Rhonda regrets leaving and I don’t think Jenny is doing a poor job. I think there’s a lot of competition for NCAA titles and while Florida is a top contender each year, so are like three other programs (notably LSU, Alabama, and Oklahoma) so it just comes down to who hits on that one day. Not every top team can win every single year, so at that point it’s less to do with coaching than it is about simple timing. Jenny is still recruiting some ridiculously talented girls, and even the 2021-2022 freshman class is currently full of some super talented junior elites (Sloane Blakely, Gabbie Gallentine, Anna Huber, and Ellie Lazzari), so I think it’s going to be a strong program for a long time coming. They’re attracting just as much talent as they were when Rhonda was there, and that’s even more important than how they’re currently looking in competition because it means the future will be as strong as the present is.
What would’ve happened in 2016 if Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas tied for the second U.S. spot in the beam final? How would they break that tie?
Since they were tied on both D and E scores, it would be down to the national team coordinator to choose who would be the best option for the final. They’d probably look at recent practice sessions and overall potential and choose that way. If they were like well this is just about as good as Gabby could be, but Aly made some mistakes and could score better, let’s put Aly in the final…or vice versa. But yes, it would be down to the NTC to choose in this scenario.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins
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