It’s time for the 192nd 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.
What is the difference between a Markelov and a Khorkina on bars? How does naming a skill work? Does it mean if a skill has been done in MAG but not in WAG can get named again for women? Why do some skills, like the Shirai-Kim for the triple Yurchenko, have two names?
A Markelov and a Khorkina are the same skill. It was named a Markelov in MAG and a Khorkina in WAG, but this is just one of those skills where the two names are used interchangeably. I generally use Markelov because most people who know skills get what that is, whereas there are other Khorkina skills (like the clear hip shaposh) so this way it’s kind of easier to differentiate.
To get a skill named, for women it has to be submitted at worlds or the Olympics, and for men, it can be submitted at any FIG world cup as well. A skill already competed by a man is eligible to be named for women. Earlier in the sport’s history, some common skills kept the MAG name (like Tkachev), but as women began debuting more and more skills that men had already competed by men, and since the codes are entirely different, the rule became that skills would be named for both men and women.
As for two-name skills, in MAG it’s generally been the rule that if two people successfully compete the same skill, it’s named for both. In WAG, this wasn’t the case, and so that’s why skills like the inbar piked Tkachev — performed by both Kelly Simm and Sophie Scheder in 2015 — didn’t get named at all. Thankfully that changed this quad, and so the Ricna half performed by Nina Derwael and Georgia-Mae Fenton at worlds this year will be called the Derwael-Fenton.
Let’s say a standout specialist could help a team’s score and competes as one of the four team members in 2020. However, a solid all-arounder for the country gets bumped out from the team. Can she qualify as a specialist and not compete for the team?
By the time a team is picked, aka within weeks prior to the Games, all individual spots will have already been claimed either nominatively or by countries. If a country has qualified a non-nominative individual spot alongside their team spot, they can put the three all-arounders and the specialist on the team and use the individual spot for the fourth all-arounder.
What are the deductions on the double Y turn?
For the most part it’s pretty much the same as every turn…the body alignment, whether it’s completed, if the heel drops, etc. The one thing that differentiates this from other turns is that the leg must be held in the split position, so judges look for things like a 180 split, bent knees, pointed toes, extension, and things like that.
Why did Catalina Ponor tape up her tattoo at the 2012 Olympic Games?
There was at one point a rule about tattoos…I remember Alicia Sacramone had to cover hers. Now it seems this rule has disappeared? Otherwise Irina Sazonova with her gigantic leg tattoo would be screwed, haha. With Alicia covering hers, I assumed it was a Martha Karolyi rule, but I think there was actually something in the code that said tattoos had to be covered.
What are Vanessa Ferrari and Carlotta Ferlito up to?
I got this question before worlds and if I was answering prior to worlds I was going to be like “they’re chillin!” because they were taking time off after the Olympics. Despite wanting that break, both ended up making last-ditch efforts to try and get on the worlds team this year. Vanessa showed up at the final Serie A of the season, two weeks before worlds, with decent routines on beam and floor. She was added to the team, made the floor final at worlds, and then ruptured her Achilles in the floor final, which you probably know unless you live in a cave. Carlotta went to nationals a month before worlds, where she also competed beam and floor, but she was “not allowed” to compete at the Serie A meet due to reasons that she considers politically motivated on the part of Enrico Casella, and since the Serie A meet was considered the final test before the worlds camp, she didn’t get a spot at camp and wasn’t considered for the worlds team.
If you were the head coach in Romania, what would you do about bars?
I would bring in a developmental coach to start working with kids who start to show promise at age eight or nine to make sure they’re getting the proper building blocks that will lead to an ability to perform at a higher elite level as they get older.
After her father’s passing, did Kristina Pravdina continue training?
Yes, she continued training and competing for the rest of 2015, but then retired after the Voronin Cup that December and she is now a category four judge.
Could Stefania Stanila have made beam finals if she didn’t fall in qualifications in 2014?
It’s possible but would’ve been close. But if Andreea Munteanu didn’t have a mistake in qualifications either, she definitely would’ve qualified as a top contender. They were really hoping to see both Andreea and Larisa Iordache in that final and on that podium.
How competitive are spots on NCAA teams, especially for Division I?
I don’t know how to quantify it but…pretty competitive? Not as competitive as other sports, because the pool of those at the top ranks in gymnastics is much smaller than the pool of competitive football or baseball players, but there are only about 50 D1 programs which means on average about 200 available scholarship spots open up each year, give or take. Since there are about 2000 level 10s and elites at any given time, and about 250 of those are graduating high school seniors, it almost works out that pretty much everyone can get a spot, but it’s definitely really competitive at the top.
What would happen if a gymnast got a new skill named at worlds or the Olympics but was later disqualified from the competition?
There isn’t a hard and fast rule about this so unless they decided after the gymnast got disqualified that they couldn’t keep the named skill, the gymnast would get to have the skill named.
Do you know how Lisa Skinner is doing after her fall during a Cirque du Soleil routine last autumn?
She fully recovered from her fractured vertebrae and I believe she returned to performing, but I’m not sure if she’s still with Cirque…according to Facebook she is!
Are Vanessa Ferrari and Aliya Mustafina the last non-American gymnasts to be world or Olympic all-around champions? Could we see a non-U.S. gymnast get the title this year?
Yes they are! And yes, we very well could have seen a non-U.S. gymnast get the title this year. Morgan Hurd ended up having the best day among the competitors in the final, but I really thought Mai Murakami was going to take the gold until she fell on beam. That would’ve been HUGE for Japan.
Why doesn’t USA Gymnastics post videos from camp anymore?
They do. They’re just not always able to be at camp with a production team so it doesn’t happen at every camp, but it still happens when they can make it happen.
Who is the best gymnast in the world right now?
The awesome thing about gymnastics right now is that there is no current “best gymnast in the world.” There are a bunch of different gymnasts with different abilities and that’s super exciting because at major international competitions, titles are anyone’s game.
Do you think the code changes are having a leveling effect, which is why the current U.S. seniors aren’t as good as they have been in other post-Olympic years?
Not really. I think the current U.S. seniors are far stronger now than the majority were in 2009, and the only reason 2013 looked so great is because we had two returning Olympians and the anomaly that is Simone Biles, who is so in her own class that she’s not representative of anything. The remainder of the girls in 2013 were all at or lower than the level of the current crop of young seniors. You definitely can’t judge the success of the current U.S. seniors (most of whom are either new seniors or new to elite) based on the 2013 team that included two returning Olympic gold medalists and arguably the greatest gymnast of all time.
What happens if a gymnast can’t properly land her dismount but punches out of it? Would she get a deduction? Has this ever happened?
It happens often that gymnasts who land dismounts awkwardly will “punch” out of them as to not get injured but it’s not considered a “punch” — it’s considered a safety roll. Yes, it’s a deduction.
Which code of points do you personally prefer? Which one is best for the gymnasts?
I don’t really have a favorite code of points, aside from favoring the open-ended code to the 10.0 code. I don’t think there’s any code that’s “best” for gymnasts because all gymnasts have different talents and abilities, and a code that’s perfect for some will be awful for others, and vice versa.
Do you know of any gymnasts with the same exact tumbling passes in their routines?
Not off the top of my head, and not really like, those you would see in a major international floor final, but go to any elite qualifier or junior elite competition in the U.S. and you’ll see a billion kids with like…a 2½, front full, double pike, and double tuck.
Where does the ‘counter’ come from in ‘counter Kim?’ Why isn’t it just the Kim?
I think technically you could just call it the Kim, but since there are so many other Kims in the code (#ThanksNellie) they probably just added counter to differentiate it from other Kim elements. It has the word “counter” because the skill involves counter rotation. The Tkachev is supposed to go up and backwards over the bar, but as the gymnast is going up and backwards in a Counter-Kim, she then reverses her rotation to forward, doing a front flip before catching the bar. I personally think counter rotational skills on bars are THE COOLEST because you basically have momentum going one way and you just physically change the direction of the momentum mid-air which is insane and breaks physics.
Is there anything special I can do if attending worlds? Are there autograph sessions or signings?
Sorry, this is a little late, they don’t really do autograph sessions or signings for the athletes currently competing at worlds, but the organizing committees at many meets will almost always set something up for athletes famous in the sport to come in and sit at a booth for a few hours to sign things and talk to fans. They did that at worlds with Nadia Comaneci as well as a few others, and at U.S. nationals they always host quite a few signings prior to meets.
Is it a deduction to pike your hips going into a Pak?
Yes, a Pak can be arched, but that doesn’t involve an actual hip pike, and so while they might forgive a slight piking down in the swing into the Pak, piked hips throughout would definintely be a deduction.
Do you have to pay judges for an inquiry over the D score? Why is such a discriminatory system in place? It could prevent smaller programs from fighting for their D scores which could cause them to lose medals.
Yes, there is a fee for D-score inquiries. It’s mostly there because it kind of makes federations think twice about like, do I REALLY need to question this score? Without a monetary fee (I think the fee is $300) coaches would be questioning every single lost tenth, which would make competitions last literally nine billion years. Fortunately, most federations that have someone in the mix for a medal or even for making a final can afford $300, though there are a few I can think of that could conceivably get close and would consider that a struggle.
Why did Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas successfully return while Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson couldn’t?
Timing and smart coaching plans. Nastia frankly waited way too long to get back in the gym. I remember her low key bragging about not doing bars until a few weeks before nationals and I was like…why is this something you’re proud of when your bars aren’t cute right now??? But I guess that was an excuse as to why they weren’t looking so hot, which makes sense. Had she started her comeback a year earlier and actively planned for it, going to camps and getting insight from national team coaches, she could’ve been HUGE in 2012. Shawn came back at a good time, but then was dealing with injury problems and wasn’t really as invested as she had been in the past which made it hard for her to get back all of her skills as quickly. Gabby actually faced that in a sense, though she was able to get back more than Shawn could because even though she had a growth spurt after London, she generally stayed in really good shape which made gaining her gymnastics skills a bit easier, and with a little more investment/fewer problems with coaching changes, she probably could’ve come back even better than she actually ended up making happen.
Who do you think would win between Norah Flatley and Elena Eremina?
Well, we haven’t seen Norah do anything in elite in two and a half years, so Elena. Norah at her best was probably comparable to how Elena looks now, with Elena winning on bars and vault but Norah winning on beam and floor.
If a gymnast qualifies as an individual to Tokyo, is she allowed to do the all-around or can she only compete the events she qualified for? Can individuals get in the all-around final?
Gymnasts who qualify as individuals can compete whatever events they want in qualifications, whether that’s just the event on which they qualified, or all four. And yes, individuals can make any final. There is zero difference between ‘team gymnasts’ and ‘individual gymnasts’ in terms of making individual finals, just as there has never been any difference between the two.
Any thoughts on the HP novices at Canadian nationals that are heading into next season as juniors?
It’s hard to say who will be the biggest standouts because the scoring system they use is so strange with the bonuses, so someone who gets incredible scores due to difficulty bonus might not actually end up being the best in junior elite. I did really love watching Kyra Cato! She’s one of the only ones I can remember much about…I only kind of saw bits and pieces from nationals, not everyone, but she seemed to have a really good mix in terms of both difficulty and execution.
Did Catalina Ponor’s return last quad, which caused several young gymnasts to lose motivation, actually end up hurting Romania?
Yes. I thought it would happen, and wrote an article about how consistently calling on retired gymnasts to come back causes the current generations to lose faith and prematurely retire, which is exactly what ended up happening. Romania had over two dozen girls at the elite level become new seniors last quad, many of whom were very promising, and almost every single one of them retired before the quad ended, including almost everyone on the 2014 worlds team that was SO young and promising, but so discouraged when they were repeatedly told that they weren’t good enough and that Catalina was coming back to replace them. Andreea Munteanu could’ve been an Olympic medal contender in any other country and instead, she was done before she even turned 17. Such a waste and so bad for that program. It’s literally no wonder it disintegrated into dust in the span of only a couple of years.
Who do you think had the better 1996 compulsory floor routine between Lilia Podkopayeva and Mo Huilan?
My favorite will always be Lilia Podkopayeva, and that goes back to me as a wee child loving her doing that routine so freaking much. Going back and watching them just now as an impartial adult lady, I’m still SCREECHING about how amazing Lilia is, she’s just so crisp and gorgeous and I actually feel like I’m watching a ballet. It’s all in her presence and the exactness and purpose of each movement. Now time for Huilan…yeah, she’s fabulous, but I’m still all about Lilia. Just watching that full L turn that goes into an immediate arabesque, Lilia’s looked like it was one motion whereas Huilan’s just wasn’t as exact though I do love Huilan’s jetés en manège. They’re both fabulous so it comes down to preference, and I think I’ll always just prefer Lilia’s regal flair.
I understand the financial aspect and opportunities of turning pro, but do you think Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, and Laurie Hernandez will ever consider college?
I’m sure at some point down the line they’ll confront the decision to get a college education. Aly has taken college classes, and many other gymnasts who have gone pro — like Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson — got college educations later on down the line when it wouldn’t conflict with their career aspirations.
Where the heck did Japan come from in the Olympic team final? Did they have their best day ever?
It was definitely the best collective day I’ve ever seen from the team, which in previous team finals always ended up counting falls or mistakes and not living up to their true potential. I think they showed in Rio that they’ve always been a secret threat but just never able to make it all come together, but then in Rio they were just absolutely tremendous. They also definitely took advantage of mistakes from Great Britain, but yeah, that was such a fan-freaking-tastic day for Japan. I was SO rooting for them to get a medal but even fourth was magical.
Does Peng Peng Lee still have to take classes? And is she still getting a scholarship in her sixth year?
Yes, gymnasts on scholarship still have to take classes so I’d imagine she’ll enroll in a graduate program of some sort. And yes, she’ll still be getting a scholarship.
What do you think a Yurchenko double back with a full twist would be worth? Judging from that time McKayla Maroney did a Yurchenko double back in podium training, do you think she could have added a full twist to it?
McKayla never did a Yurchenko double back in podium training — that gif is just a timer, and she’s only doing one flip. When gymnasts come off the table on vault, because they’re pushing with their hands, they have to do a half flip before the full flip, so all flips off of vault are technically a 1.5 or 2.5 even though we call them a single or double. In that gif, she’s doing a single back flip, plus the half flip that is implied for any vault. If she added a full twist to what she’s doing there, she’d literally be doing a Yurchenko full. She tried double backs into the pit at times but never tried landing them, but if someone were to someday try a Yurchenko double back with a full twist, it would probably be worth somewhere around a 7.0, assuming a Yurchenko double back for women would be around a 6.2-6.4.
Everybody is excited to see who will do the Yurchenko triple, but what about the Yurchenko half-on front layout double full? Do you know if anyone has been training it? What would it be worth?
As far as I know, no one has been seriously training it. It would likely be a 6.4 if someone were to submit it.
Ioana Crisan was warming up for the all-around before Ragan Smith got injured. How many reserves warm up just in case? Do athletes who were two-per-country’ed out of a final warm up too?
There are four official reserves and all four would warm up right before the final in case they were needed to compete. I would imagine most countries would also opt to have their two-per-country’ed athlete warming up too, just in case they have an injury and need a last-minute replacement, since they’d rather have one of their own athletes come in and replace the injured girl rather than a reserve.
The only country that had to worry about that this year was Belgium — Maellyse Brassart didn’t get two-per-country’ed out of a finals spot but she did miss out on a reserve spot due to the rule, so I would imagine she was training in case either Nina Derwael or Rune Hermans got injured. I’ve seen that happen at other meets, but it’s hard to know exactly who’s doing this and who isn’t.
I can pretty much guarantee that if top countries like the U.S. or Russia had girls two-per-country’ed out, they’d almost certainly have their third gymnast in the gym prior to the meet just in case. There’s no way they’d risk only having one gymnast in the final while a perfectly healthy girl sat on the sidelines and watched just because she wasn’t warming up, especially if you look at years like 2016 where your two-per-country’ed gymnast placed third in qualifications and had a legitimate medal shot. I would hope Gabby Douglas was in the warm-up gym just in case prior to the Olympic all-around final…if not, the U.S. would kind of screw themselves out of a second finals spot (and likely also a second medal) if someone was to get injured just prior to the meet.
Why at worlds with more men competing did they have fewer subdivisions than the women?
Because there are six events on which the men compete, they are able to fit more men into a single subdivision — about 36-42 per subdivision compared to the women, who generally have around 24-28 max due to only competing and rotating on four events.
At the Commonwealth Games in 2014, all three gymnasts on the all-around podium were from England. Is there no two-per-country rule? But people were knocked out of event finals due to that rule?
Not every meet uses the two-per-country rule. Many non-FIG meets choose to follow the FIG rules, but it’s really a meet-by-meet basis. For Commonwealth Games, they don’t employ the two-per-country rule for the all-around final, but do use it for event finals, which is actually similar to how the FIG rules used to be for worlds and the Olympics…up until the 80s, IIRC, they had no per-country rules at all, but then created a rule for only two-per-country in event finals at worlds and the Olympics because the Soviets would qualify like five gymnasts into an event final sometimes. The rule was created to inspire a bit more diversity in the finals, but they decided to allow three-per-country in all-around finals. From the 80s until the 2000 Games, the rule was two-per-country for events and three-per-country for the all-around, which is basically what Commonwealth Games continues to do now, but the FIG limited the all-around to two-per-country after 2000. Again, not every meet format will follow the FIG’s rules, and Commonwealth Games at one point allowed for older juniors to compete.
What would happen if two girls from one country qualified to an event final, and a third got ninth so they ended up being first reserve. If a girl from a different country withdrew, would the third girl go even with the two-per-country rule?
No. It would still count as two-per-country, so she wouldn’t even get the first reserve spot to begin with — the girl who qualified 10th would, assuming two girls from her country weren’t already in the final. Using a real world example, had Morgan qualified ninth this year and Ellie Black qualified tenth, Morgan would still get two-per-country’ed out of the whole situation and Ellie would be named first reserve. Had, say, Vanessa Ferrari withdrawn, Ellie would take over. But had Ragan Smith been the one to withdraw, two-per-country no longer matters for the U.S., Morgan gets bumped to first reserve and takes over for Ragan, and Ellie gets moved to second reserve.
I know Romania has had some good bar workers over the years. Who would you say are their top five of all time?
In the new code, my favorite was Ana Porgras, and I would go as far as saying she was probably Romania’s best of all time in terms of her combination of difficulty and execution…it’s hard to compare her with some of the earlier bar workers because they couldn’t possibly do Ana’s skills even if they tried based on the type of routines and apparatus that existed back then, but she really exemplifies everything that should be good in a bars set and whoever let her go before she really hit her prime should be in prison.
I actually also really enjoy Larisa Iordache even though she struggles with some form issues on several skills. I think like Aly Raisman, she created a difficult routine that worked for the type of gymnast she is, and while she might not be a “bar worker” in the traditional sense, she did a great job putting together a routine that allowed her to fake it and I’d include her in this list even if aesthetically she isn’t as strong as some of the old-time greats. I also really loved Daniela Silivas and Lavinia Milosovici, and then I think I kind of have to go with Nadia Comaneci for my last pick, though her teammate and BFF Teodora Ungureanu gets a close sixth (and I may have actually preferred Teodora but it’s almost sacrilegious to leave Nadia off the list).
Do you know what the contract dispute was that prevented Jade Barbosa from going to the 2012 Olympic Games?
Yes, she had a personal sponsor paying her that conflicted with the team sponsor. She basically had to wear her sponsor’s logo on her leos but the team sponsor wouldn’t allow her to because if she wanted to be on the Brazilian team, she had to wear the Brazilian sponsor even though it wasn’t her sponsor. It was a lot of this back and forth, and in the end they had to leave her behind because she and her sponsor couldn’t come to an agreement with the team and their sponsor. I’m sure she personally really wanted to go, but if she’s under contract to endorse a brand, she can’t very well be like “sorry, I’m gonna go endorse this other brand for a few weeks.” Definitely something everyone should’ve thought about far in advance of the Games.
Why don’t gymnasts do whips in every tumbling pass to increase connection value?
Physically it would be hard because you get less momentum from whips into a skill than you do from running straight into a roundoff back handspring, so while most could do it for a pass or two, by the middle of the routine when you’re lacking endurance, you’re not going to be able to do more difficult tumbling indirectly out of two whips. I also think the judges would put in some compositional deduction for lack of variety in terms of where you’re getting your connection value.
Why did Justin Laury leave WCC?
An opportunity opened up at Metroplex, and so he decided to take it. Metroplex has a really developed J.O. program and is one of the top level 10 gyms in the country, whereas WCC is still just starting out, so even though he could’ve basically been in charge of the women’s program at WCC (and probably also coached Simone) it probably just made more sense for his career at that point to move to Metroplex where he’d get experience coaching a larger group of gymnasts. Both jobs are clearly great and I mean, who wouldn’t want the chance to coach Simone?! But while coaching a couple of elites is the dream job for some, being part of a huge, thriving L10 program is the dream for others.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins
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