It’s time for the 190th 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.
Do you know of any CoP videos or breakdowns for MAG skills?
I don’t really know of any. Their code of points is a bit more straightforward than the women’s code, so I generally just turn there if I don’t know something, or I’ll just youtube a skill by its name because chances are, you’ll find a million training videos of people training JUST that skill (like a Kovacs on high bar).
What is wrong with Eythora Thorsdottir’s leaps? They look nice to me but I keep seeing people criticize them.
I haven’t seen anyone getting super mad about them but if I had to guess, people are probably talking about her ring leap on beam…it just kind of doesn’t happen the way it’s supposed to, like she throws her front leg out first, then kicks her back leg up, and then throws her head back in three very distinct steps rather than all three happening fluidly and simultaneously. In a split ring leap, the gymnast should have her legs at 180, the back leg in a ring, and her head back all at the same time before landing, but this is how Eythora’s looks:
You can see that at no point is she doing all three things at once and I’d be shocked if she got credit for…anything, honestly. That’s not even something you can legitimately downgrade to a split leap because it’s not even the ring that’s wrong, it’s the fluidity and sequence in general. Her ring jump later in the routine does a better job of getting everything at once and she almost has the correct ring shape, so it really is just the leap action that seems to throw her.
In 2012 and in 2016, there were a lot of U.S. gymnasts who could’ve made the team had they been at full strength. Who, in your opinion, would have made the strongest possible teams in each year?
I think if Nastia Liukin had started training a year earlier, she could’ve made a huge impact, and I think Alicia Sacramone without an injury also could’ve done big things in 2012. Of course, it would’ve meant displacing Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney, so part of me is like DO NOT WANT, and I do think McKayla was the better vaulter compared to Alicia, but I think Alicia was more well-rounded and could’ve contributed in areas that helped the team overall. In 2016…I think the strongest ended up going? Of those who ended up kind of not making it to the end, I don’t think anyone could’ve stepped up at that point in time, if that makes sense? Like most who looked like they could be in the mix kind of faded out a year or more prior to the Games so I can’t really be like “oh Lexie Priessman could’ve changed that team!” You could be like “Kyla with her 2013 ability and bars upgrades would’ve been amazing!” but then you could say that about literally anyone, like “Brenna Dowell with that one really amazing bar routine she hit in 2015 and her Amanar from early 2014” or whatever so I didn’t want to just go down the road of naming absolutely everyone who could’ve had a shot.
Do all countries have the same elite qualification scores? Do all countries have compulsories to become elite, like the U.S. does?
No, every country has its own way of determining who can compete at the elite level and not all have compulsories but many do have certain requirements for various levels. A majority of countries — e.g. those that don’t send full teams to the Olympics — only have a handful of athletes at any given time who are considered ‘elite’ so while the U.S., Russia, and China have about ten or more they’d put on the national team or send to international competitions with another 100 or so competing at the elite level domestically, many countries have ten max who would be considered ‘elite’ and these girls are sometimes at or far below the level of those who only compete domestically in the top countries.
The top gymnasts who got their training in Thailand or Georgia, for example, would barely be level 9s in the U.S. But even though they’re far below the standards of the strongest elites, they’re the best in that country, so they end up being elite in that country. I think the U.S. is rare in that it has a specific qualification score to elite and to nationals and that’s because there’s SO much depth. Most other countries are just more rankings-based, mostly because I think there’s such a lack of depth, if they did set a quantitative standard, they’d be cutting themselves off from a majority of the talent, which could ultimately hurt them. Japan will invite some 80-100 girls to nationals based on how they do at other smaller domestic meets, some of whom will score around a 50 or higher, but some of whom will score in the low 40s. But to separate the best from the rest, they let all gymnasts do the qualification day at nationals, and then like at worlds, the top 24 will make it into the final. So other countries do have a variety of ways of bringing gymnasts into national team camps and to the national-level competitions, but they for the most part don’t limit the talent pool by enforcing specific scores.
What do teams do with their team finals leotards if they don’t make finals?
They generally save them for other competitions as part of their ‘kit.’ Like if the U.S. women didn’t make team finals in 2016, we’d probably see those leos pop up throughout the year at other competitions until they switch to the next kit the following year. Many countries keep their same kit for a quad or longer, so it’s possible the leos the Italian team had for the final in Rio ended up being worn at other meets throughout the year.
Under what circumstances does a non-traveling alternate get to compete at worlds? Does someone have to pull out before the team travels to Montreal or can the alternate be flown in if there’s an injury?
It depends on the country. As long as it’s prior to qualifications, they can bring in the replacement athlete, so if they have time to fly someone in due to a last-minute injury, most countries would definitely jump at the chance just to have that extra representation. Had Ragan Smith been injured a day or two before qualifications, they definitely would’ve flown Jordan Chiles in, because with only three athletes, the U.S. wouldn’t make as many finals as they possibly could, and thus wouldn’t win as many medals. This year, Georgia-Mae Fenton got injured in training prior to Euros, and Great Britain flew in Alice Kinsella to compete in her spot, and for the Olympic test event last year, two gymnasts — Jasmin Mader and Marisa Dick — were flown in super last-minute. I think both arrived within 24 hours of having to compete, which is crazy…Jasmin I remember arrived the morning of.
Why do some people compete a piked full-in when they could do a tucked full for the same value? Why is a piked full not an F like a piked double arabian is?
Many gymnasts find flipping in a pike shape easier than flipping in a tuck shape because it’s easier to open up and land. That’s also why many gymnasts will finish their floor routines with a double pike instead of a double tuck. Even though a tuck is the easier body shape and is generally an easier skill, when your body is piked, your legs are straight and when you open up for the landing after two flips, you barely have to do anything, whereas for a tuck, you have to unbend your legs, if that makes sense to help you kind of visualize. So even though you’d think a piked full-in is harder, and in many elements a pike is considered harder than a tuck, on floor many actually will find double pikes easier than double tucks, and that includes the full-in version.
Shawn Johnson’s 2006 beam still seems to hold up. What would it score today?
It’s an awesome routine but it’s actually a lot of lower-valued skills and several connections that wouldn’t be worth anything today. She’d get 3.1 for elements, 2.0 for her CR, and 0.6 for CV, giving her a total of 5.7 max. That would end up being one of the better D scores on beam at worlds this year, but many of the girls there were going for 6.0 or higher. Of her connections that are worth anything in this code, I think Shawn would get credited with all since they’re mostly acro or series-based, but some of her non-valuable connections would definitely get heavily deducted. I’d say for a total score it could go high 13 on a good day? Low 14 on her best day?
Do you know where I could find the judging or deductions for the skills in each apparatus?
You can read the code of points, which is available here. There are several YouTube videos that exist with this information but if you want it all in one place, the code is where to go.
What are ‘busted wrists’ and why do most people seem to hate them?
Busted wrists are when a gymnast flexes her wrists in her choreography on beam or floor. In gymnastics and other aesthetic sports, it’s very important to maintain a line, and flexing your wrists completely breaks that line. It’s preferable to see wrists that continue the extension through the arm and then into the fingers maintaining one long line from shoulder to the tips of your fingers, but the busted wrists basically breaks that line right at the end and it’s just not aesthetically pleasing (you would NEVER in a million years see wrists like that in ballet, for example).
If you had to pick, which would be the best all-around, vault, bars, beam, and floor finals?
I’m gonna go with the Olympics because there’s too much going on at all of the various world championships…and I haven’t seen prior to 1984 aside from bits and pieces from various Games. SO. Also, these are going to be very heavily influenced by my personal favorites, just FYI. “Best” is subjective, and while I’m trying to consider the talent level and thrill factor, I think it’s hard to compare across different codes and generations, so my own personal thoughts are going to come into play for sure.
All-around final, God, 2012 was really crazy, was it not? I also personally loved 2004…and 1992 was a nail-biter. Vault…the earlier Games don’t even compare to the Games using the new code for this event in particular, and I think 2008 was the most fun for me? It was the closest and had tons of controversy. For bars, 2004 all the way. This final was crazy and so unexpected. Beam…2008 was excellent in every sense, and I also loved the aesthetic of 1992 beam so I personally liked that final. And then floor…2012 will always kill me because of #AlyRaismanFeels but I don’t necessarily think it was the best in terms of strength/talent for this event. 2016 got closer in terms of the field, but I think my favorite was probably 1988.
On beam, there is a 0.1 connection bonus if a gymnast connects three acro elements, correct? And 0.2 if she connects five? Is there something similar on bars?
There is a series bonus of 0.1 on beam if a gymnast connects three acro (or mixed) elements, and then various connected elements also have their own connection values (so you could get a 0.1 series bonus for a triple acro series and then additional 0.1 or 0.2 bonuses if the skills themselves are worth anything when connected). On bars, there are no series bonuses since in a sense, everything on bars is connected, but like beam, individual skills of a certain value receive connection value, like D+D skills get 0.1 and D+E flight elements get 0.2.
What happened to Noel van Klaveren and Julie Croket? Why didn’t they make their respective Rio teams?
Noel injured her ankle at Euros in 2016, and though she tried to come back in time to get a spot on the Olympic team and was on the roster for nationals, she ended up being too injured to continue, which is what opened up the vault spot for Vera van Pol, who definitely wouldn’t have gone to Rio had Noel been healthy. As for Julie, she wasn’t really one of the strongest contenders once it came down to the final Olympic selection due to a minor injury. She competed bars and beam at Dutch Championships, which the Belgian team used as its final trial meet, but she wasn’t in the top on either, and she decided to withdraw from selection because she knew even if she made it, she wouldn’t be in top form. Truly heartbreaking for both after they put so much time and effort into it, and both got so close — especially Julie in 2012, as she earned Belgium’s spot but then had to withdraw due to injury — but never made it.
What value do judges give to skills performed in local competitions that aren’t yet in the code? For example, Nina Derwael’s Ricna half, or Marisa Dick’s entries on beam, before they were competed at worlds or the Olympics.
Even though they’re not officially in the code, gymnasts submit these skills beforehand so the judges can confer and rate them at an element level prior to the competition. I remember this happening with Ragan Smith’s pike full on beam last quad, which she had to have rated for domestic meets.
Why don’t gym judges publish full protocols after each event like figure skating does, with a list of all credited elements and deductions?
I don’t know but I wish they would. I’ve seen a few judging sheets with more of a breakdown (like which deductions came from artistry and which came from technical errors on beam and floor) and it’s so eye-opening…and I think it would help put an end to how subjective everything in this sport can be. People go crazy when they see E scores that are “too low” or “too high” even though most people who complain about these things don’t have the slightest clue as to why judges are deducting. Like, people went nuts about the beam judging at worlds this year but like…the judges actually were taking legitimate deductions based on fluidity and adjustments, and I think if they released some kind of breakdown to show where each deduction came in, people would have a better understanding and wouldn’t flip out. It also can be helpful to gymnasts who want to know what judges are looking for at the international level of competition.
Why is forward tumbling so much harder than backward tumbling? Is there something specific about gymnasts like Lilia Podkopayeva and Brenna Dowell that makes them better at front tumbling?
Forward tumbling is harder both physically and mentally, physically because it’s harder to generate power and the body shape is more difficult to hold and maintain (this is hard to explain but watch literally any front handspring layout vault and see how hard it is for gymnasts to maintain a layout shape that isn’t either arched way back or piked way forward), and mentally because most front tumbling (without half-twist variations) has a blind landing.
What’s your opinion on tiny gymnasts doing huge skills on social media? How many of them will succeed in the elite world and how many will burn out?
Most gymnasts in general, not just the tiny ones, just do big skills for fun. Like, Sienna Robinson doing a quad-twisting double tuck into a pit one million percent isn’t planning on competing that. It’s just kind of like look at me showing off. Pretty much every gymnast plays around in the gym with skills way harder than they actually compete, and sometimes it’s fun to show off these skills or combos on Instagram, like Maile O’Keefe with her side aerial + loso + loso + layout full on beam or Simone Biles with her triple doubles. Maybe it’s a dream to someday be able to compete skills of this magnitude, but for most gymnasts who post crazy skills, they’re just doing it for fun. As for the tiny gymnasts doing huge skills, you see them doing crazy things on Instagram, but then their elite routines in real life are like…double pikes and double tucks on floor. Again, the big skills are just dream skills and for fun in the gym, and they have zero bearing on whether they’ll burn out at the elite level.
What is going on with Team Jamaica?
I don’t know? Is something going on with them? Hahaha, sorry, I have no idea what this could refer to without context!
Was Bridget Sloan able to accept the money awarded to fourth place finishes for her placement on bars at worlds in 2009 and still keep her eligibility?
I never know which money the gymnasts can keep and which they can’t…I think the money that comes with the ranking is able to go to the gymnast, but they can’t accept any medal bonuses or whatever from their country if they want to maintain eligibility? So Bridget could’ve collected the money for her rankings in 2009 like Simone Biles did before she went pro, and I think Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross were able to accept money for their rankings and still hold onto their NCAA eligibility. But I don’t know how this works or how the “prize money” is differentiated from like, “prize bonus money.” It’s such a gray area for everything related to eligibility and the NCAA just needs to chill with all of it.
What do you think the all-around medal order should have been at worlds?
I think it was exactly as it should have been. The four who were the clear strongest all-arounders were all basically at the same level and had the same scoring potential, but the order ended up being least harmful mistakes to largest mistakes, with Morgan Hurd having the strongest day in terms of how everything went for her, followed by Ellie Black with a slightly larger mistake on beam, Elena Eremina with her bars getting cut down nearly a point due to her mistake, and then Mai Murakami in fourth because of a fall. With everyone so super close, this order made sense and I think the ranking was fully accurate.
Is money awarded at continental meets considered prize money? For example, was Bridgey Caquatto able to receive money for her all-around win at Pan Ams in 2011?
It depends on the competition. Not all competitions have prize money and I’m not sure if Pan Ams is one of the competitions that offers it, or whether the “type” of prize money they offer is able to be accepted by those who want to maintain eligibility. Clearly if Bridgey did accept prize money, it was okay because it didn’t affect her eligibility.
What team do you think will make the biggest jump in the standings this quad? What team do you think will drop the furthest?
Japan. I’ve said it for years now that they were on the rise, and then with their fourth-place finish last year and the multiple individual successes this year, in addition to all of the depth they have, I think they will absolutely make a jump from a non-contender to a team that could medal at worlds or the Olympics. I don’t really see any major teams dropping much at all. For Japan to medal, they’ll need to beat China or Russia, but that would be on a competition basis, not a result of either China or Russia “dropping.” Some of the fringe teams like Brazil, Belgium, Switzerland, and so on have depth problems this quad but I don’t see the future of their programs dropping…but as for those that have a chance to climb, I’m really excited about Hungary.
Is it true that Cecile and Laurent Landi have left WOGA? What’s going on with them?
Yes, they left WOGA before the elite season, explored their options over the summer, and accepted jobs at World Champions Centre, where Laurent will run the women’s program and coach Simone Biles.
Where are the deductions coming from in Mai Murakami’s floor routine? She and Claudia Fragapane both had the same E score in the floor final and I thought Mai was much cleaner.
I think they’re generally pretty close in execution, though I think Mai should always be a little on top. Claudia did have that big mistake in her first pass at worlds, but Mai also had lots of landing deductions whereas that was pretty much Claudia’s cleanest routine EVER aside from the opening mistake so I guess that’s what it came down to for both of them and why their E scores were similar. But if Mai had better landings, her E score should definitely be several tenths ahead.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins
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