It’s time for the 193rd 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’s the difference between the developmental team camp and the developmental invite camp?
The developmental team camp is for gymnasts who are on the developmental ‘team’ which includes gymnasts who are more established and ready to compete at the Hopes and junior elite level, like Lilly Lippeatt and Ui Soma this summer. The invite camp is more for younger gymnasts directly from TOPs who might not be old enough for elite yet but want to start thinking about it, or those who are a little older who are looking to try hopes or elite but are brand new to the system. This summer, some invite camp attendees included Alicia Wendland, who is only nine years old and hasn’t yet started qualifying for elite but probably will in 2018 or 2019, and then also Sydney Morris, who is a bit older at 13, but was new to Hopes this year.
Why did Andreea Munteanu of Romania retire?
She felt kind of “pushed out” when Catalina Ponor returned because of what the national team staff said about her performance at worlds in 2014 (even though she had a 15.2 on beam in the team final), and got very frustrated because she felt her efforts were not really appreciated. With all of this going on she and a few others lost their passion and started doing other more teenager things instead of going to the gym, which was a real shame…Andreea was the European beam champion one minute with the potential to get a medal at the Olympics, and the next minute she was done with the sport.
Why did UCLA keep Madison Preston in the anchor position at NCAA Championships after her mishaps at previous meets? Why did they take Gracie Kramer out of the vault lineup?
A few mishaps don’t completely take someone out of the picture as the anchor. The anchor spot isn’t just used for “the best” or for the gymnast who will bring in the highest score. Often it’s used for a gymnast who is one of the leaders for the team, and other times it’s used for a gymnast who might benefit from the score boost that comes from being at the end of the rotation. If she was doing well and sticking, it made sense to put her in that spot as one of the best, but if she was struggling, it also made sense to put her there to boost her confidence and her score.
Does Courtney Kupets have enough experience to take over the head coach position at Georgia?
Yup! She has never coached at the college level, but she’s a very experienced coach and has tons of support in her assistant coaching staff as well as from her volunteer coach, aka former head coach Suzanne Yoculan, whom I’m sure will be super involved with trying to bring the team back up to speed. Most important is her love and passion for the sport, which at the college level when many gymnasts (especially former elites) are discouraged and ready to retire is exactly what gymnasts need to keep going.
Do you have a least favorite routine on each event?
Not really. I do find many beam and floor routines boring because they can feel endless if nothing interesting is going on, but that’s usually because there are four events going on at once so I’ve kind of trained myself to tune out the ‘boring’ parts so I can watch other events simultaneously, and then I tune back in to beam and floor for the bigger tumbling moments in slower routines. But then when I have to watch a more “boring” beam or floor when there’s nothing else going on and it gets to a part that’s just the moving around and not the skill elements, I get antsy because I’m like “WHY IS NOTHING HAPPENING.” But that’s most routines for me, to be honest, since very few gymnasts have really engaging beam work or floor performances.
What would happen if a senior gymnast on scholarship was injured and eligible for a fifth year but the school had already committed all of the scholarship spots for the next year during the NLI early signing period?
I think if it’s a fifth-year situation they end up getting an “extra” spot for that person basically. I’ve never heard of a situation where it was like “oh you qualify for a fifth year but we don’t have enough scholarship spots.” I’m not totally sure how that works though, and can’t find any rules about it…but I’d imagine that there has to be some sort of exception to the 16-scholarship-spots-only rule if pretty much everyone who has used a fifth year has been able to seamlessly stay on the team without the team having to take away someone else’s scholarship.
What do you think about the hype Rebecca Bross got in 2009-2010? Do you think it contributed to an unnecessary amount of added pressure? Could she really have contended for an all-around spot among the top all-arounders in 2012?
I think the “WOGA threepeat” stuff was definitely a ton of pressure and I’m sure the last thing she wanted any time she did anything was people coming in and being like “YOU’RE GONNA BE THE NEXT OLYMPIC CHAMPION, RIGHT?!” Like, that sucks for her and I know she was really frustrated with the sport after worlds in 2010, so it’s definitely possible that the added pressure from the media and fans led to her frustration, especially when she would make mistakes at meets and miss out on higher rankings. I don’t think she was at a strength that would’ve allowed her to challenge for the Olympic podium, not with how girls like Gabby Douglas and Viktoria Komova ended up looking…but she could’ve definitely made a great addition to the team and filled some holes on bars and beam. But either way, it’s a shame she just had the perfect storm of injuries and drama and everything that held her back.
Why does Ragan Smith close and open her legs in the middle of her Ricna instead of straddling during the whole skill?
It’s probably just how she learned it when doing drills and it’s a habit that has stuck with her. Everyone learns skills in different ways and some of the girls who use more bizarre techniques will eventually try to get rid of them, but occasionally you see gymnasts who still hold onto them even as they get more advanced.
Is UCLA in contention for a national title in the next couple of years?
Yup, and they’ve been in contention for a national title in the past couple of years. They have the talent, but with injuries and consistency issues, they’ve just never managed to put together a winning season. Every year always seems super promising but then they end up not having the season they were capable of.
What are your favorite moments in each of Morgan Hurd’s events?
Vault…no real favorite moment, I just like when she hits it really well. On bars, I really like her stalder full to full-in dismount because while it’s becoming more common to see gymnasts connecting skills directly into a dismount, it’s still relatively rare and I always love seeing it. On beam, her standing full used to be her scariest skill but now it’s definitely my favorite. And on floor, I love her closing choreo sequence.
What would Sui Lu’s piked Grigoras be worth in the code?
I would rate it a G.
Who is doing a program today that’s the best combination of difficult and clean?
I really think Morgan Hurd fits that bill pretty well…she has lots of difficulty, and when she hits, her skills are for the most part really clean and well done, and Ragan Smith also fits that description pretty well. Others…Liu Tingting when she hits, vault aside, Maile O’Keefe and Emma Malabuyo for sure, Chen Yile, Mai Murakami, Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos, Ellie Downie…among those who have competed this year, these are probably the best.
Was Kyla Ross’ performance at the Olympics in 2012 considered a disappointment?
No? She did exactly what she was expected to do and everyone was thrilled with her performance. Not making any finals wasn’t her fault…she got two-per-country’ed out of beam, and she was never expected to make the bars final with her lower difficulty making it more of a long shot. Her only weakness in London was her difficulty.
How many Russians competed or trained an Amanar?
Ksenia Afanasyeva, Maria Paseka, Aliya Mustafina, Tatiana Nabieva, Viktoria Komova, and Elena Zamolodchikova have all competed it. A few others have trained it, I think with Seda Tutkhalyan the most recent…I can’t think of anyone else in the past year or so but I could be blanking.
Is Rebecca Bross still involved with gymnastics?
Yes, she’s a head coach of the girl’s program at Iarov Elite in Dallas where she has coached since 2013.
Why are there no side dismounts off the beam in elite?
All of the side dismounts that exist are just too easy, I believe…I don’t think there’s any rule about having to dismount off the end, and we used to see side dismounts in the past, but I think with the now-defunct dismount requirement in recent codes, the side dismounts and other similarly easy dismounts kind of disappeared for the most part.
Why didn’t Larisa Iordache’s all-around bronze in 2015 automatically qualify her for the Olympics?
The rule states that only event medalists could automatically qualify. It didn’t include all-around medalists which is bizarre, but I think the reasoning behind the event medalists rule was to have one way specialists could qualify. Since there are other ways for all-arounders to qualify, they just opened up the medalists for event specialists because specialists had no way in. It’s rare that a top all-arounder from worlds (a) wouldn’t be on a fully-qualified team, and (b) would miss qualifying as an individual all-arounder, but Romania’s situation was insane and proved to be an exception to that.
How did Tabea Alt get such a high score in Stuttgart when she had a form break on beam and fell on her dismount?
That competition had high scores in general, as did many competitions this year. Given that Tabea’s difficulty on beam is pretty high, it was easy for her to make up for her mistakes, and since the scores there were a little higher overall compared to a meet like worlds, she ended up getting a ridiculously high score. That same routine at worlds would’ve been about 1.5 points lower, but that can be said about many routines this year.
Could the U.S. team in 2008 have beaten China had they not fallen apart?
They definitely had a shot if they had everyone healthy and were hitting well, but it really was China’s meet to lose and if both teams had their best days, China definitely would’ve taken it.
Why didn’t Viktoria Komova compete at worlds in 2014?
She had surgery only about six months prior to worlds that year due to an ankle injury, and while Valentina Rodionenko thought she still might be able to get ready to compete in Nanning, she re-injured her ankle while training and ended up withdrawing from the selection process.
Why are flight series of three or more skills so rare now compared to the 90s when gymnasts could easily do four acro skills in a row?
Because there’s no series bonus that rewards them. There are definitely many gymnasts who could connect four acro skills on beam, but no one bothers with it because they won’t get any kind of bonus for doing it, so it’s not worth the additional effort and fall risk. At one point Maile O’Keefe was training a side aerial + layout stepout + layout stepout + layout full which would be awesome to see in competition, but I doubt she’d ever bring it to a meet like worlds or something because it just wouldn’t be worth the risk.
Has Catherine Lyons retired?
At this point I believe we can say yes, she has retired. She had a surgery about a year ago and said she was hoping it would be her last and that she really wanted to get back to the gym, but since there were problems with her coach and her gym, I’m guessing she never actually ended up returning and at this point having not competed in going on three years, it’s likely we won’t see her again.
Are there any promising tumblers this quad?
Yeah, there are many younger juniors who look like they could one day bust out huge passes. Jaymes Marshall has so much potential with her tumbling, and I’d also loooove to see what else Jade Carey can do because if her skills that she competes look as good as they do, you KNOW she has some secrets up her sleeves.
What happened to Martha and Bela Karolyi? There are no interviews with her post-retirement. Is she not interested in press?
With everything that came out about the culture of the ranch after Larry Nassar was exposed last year, I’m pretty sure they are keeping a low profile especially with all of the legal issues that they’re carrying at the moment. I have heard from a few coaches that they’re still living at the ranch and coaches will occasionally see them around during camps, but they’re not involved anymore and although I’m sure the press is dying to speak with them, I can see their lawyers making them turn down every request that comes in.
Would there be a penalty in a team final score for a worlds team with fewer than five people? What if gymnasts get injured after qualifications and they can only put up three all-arounders in team finals?
No, if a team ends up missing an athlete or two and has to use only three members, they are not penalized.
What happens when a named skill is taken out of the code of points? Is it no longer worth anything? Can gymnasts still perform it?
It depends…if it’s taken out because it’s banned (like the Korbut flip) or because it’s no longer considered a skill (like the Liukin) then no, gymnasts can’t perform it. I’m sure a gymnast who did a banned skill would receive some sort of penalty, and a gymnast who did the Liukin would only get the acro + dance bonus if it was worth anything, though I’m pretty sure those two skills combined in the current code aren’t worth a connection bonus. If it’s a skill that just kind of disappeared for some strange reason, it can still be performed…like I’m pretty sure the Grigoras on beam doesn’t exist as a skill in the code anymore, at least not that I can see, even though it’s still a skill.
Do you know how ‘gainer’ skills got their name?
Gainer skills actually go beyond gymnastics as they’re also used in diving, parkour, martial arts, and even in wrestling, and the name itself can probably be traced back to early acrobatics, kind of like the barani.
What happened to planches on beam?
As a mount? I think because they generally take up a lot of time when you only have a certain amount of time to pack in all of your required elements, it’s usually the mount that ends up getting kind of ignored. Some planche mounts take up a solid 15 seconds which is almost a fifth of the time you’re allotted on that event. When the objective is to build difficulty and you’re using up 15 seconds on a mount, it’s just a ‘waste’ in terms of what you’re actually trying to do to get a high score. But I personally wish we saw more slow and lovely mounts. I wish the WTC could make a rule that’s like, the mount doesn’t count for the routine length, or like, you get 15 seconds before your routine time starts to do a mount. It would definitely create more opportunity for gymnasts to do planches and more intricate press handstand kinda stuff.
Do you know the name of the music in Ekaterina Vandisheva’s 1993 European Cup floor? Why didn’t she get to the Olympics?
It’s “Le Tonnerre de Dieu” by Georges Gavarentz and was the theme in a popular French film in the 1960s by the same name. Yekaterina dislocated her elbow shortly before the European Cup, had surgery and plates put in, and was able to recover quickly and compete at that meet. But then while she was training bars going into worlds later that year, she fell on a transition and broke the same arm. She sadly was never able to mentally recover and ended up retiring in 1995. A shame…her beam and floor were always so fantastic.
I remember Aly Raisman talking about her vault run, something about not running faster and harder, but about running strong but not too aggressive. Any idea what she meant?
I’m not sure, I’d have to see it in context. I do think that a lot of people assume gymnasts need to reach their top possible speed for vault, but in reality they just need to run in a way that builds power, which doesn’t necessarily mean going as fast as possible so that could be what she meant but again it’s hard to know without seeing her exact words and what else she said around them.
Do you think the current format of top-seeded gymnasts traveling together during competition rotations leads to fairer scoring? It feels like judges may neglect to score those outside the top six correctly. Do you think Shang Chunsong would’ve won bronze if she was in the top-seeded group in Rio?
Yeah, that first group definitely has a major advantage when it comes to how they’re scored. Occasionally you do see someone in a lower group end up doing well and medaling, but it’s rare because I think there’s this stigma that anyone not in that first rotation group isn’t someone who can contend for a medal and that definitely subconsciously affects how the judges score routines. I get that Olympic order is the ‘reward’ for those who place in the top six but I do think the seeding into the all-around final should be random so that there’s not one group that gets special treatment.
Since the code changes, who has had the highest bars score of all time?
Well, the most recent code changes just happened this year, so we don’t have much data to look at since it started up in January. The highest bars score in the current code is Anastasia Iliankova’s 15.275. I didn’t keep track of scores last quad, but I would guess Aliya Mustafina and Madison Kocian’s 15.933s at the Olympics were the highest because I can’t remember anyone ever getting higher, and the same goes with London 2012…unless a score came in at like a Russian Cup or something that was higher, I’m pretty sure the Olympic scores that year were the highest I can remember from major international meets that quad. For the 2008 quad, both He Kexin and Nastia Liukin surpassed a 17, but in that quad the gymnasts could count two additional skills for a total of ten compared to a total of eight in more recent quads, so technically they had the highest scores since the end of the ten and unless the code changes again to increase scores, they’ll hold the record of only scores over 17.
It confuses me when gymnasts don’t hit 180 on leaps and people say they aren’t as flexible. Every elite can do a full split, so is Aly Raisman really less flexible than someone hitting 180 or an oversplit?
Generally the more muscular someone is, the less flexible they are, so even though Aly can easily do a full split on the floor, when it comes to reaching a full 180 degree split while performing a leap or jump, it’s much harder for gymnasts who are more muscular. Sometimes gymnasts like this actually end up relying on their strength to reach a split position in the air rather than their flexibility and I think that’s what Aly does to compensate.
If Romania had made team finals in 2015, in team finals, say Larisa Iordache did all-around, Laura Jurca did every event but beam, and if Anamaria Ocolisan did every event but bars, do you think they could have challenged for silver or bronze?
It’s possible…I don’t know if Laura or Anamaria’s scores would’ve been high enough but they could’ve gotten close.
California and possibly other states prohibit state funds from being used to travel to the eight states that have passed discriminatory ‘bathroom bills’ and explicitly mentions the University of California as an affected entity, which means that UCLA and Cal aren’t permitted to use school funds to travel to Texas, which is scheduled to host nationals in upcoming years. After pulling the basketball tournament out of North Carolina, do you think the NCAA would change the location of regionals/nationals for gymnastics? If not, what would this mean for teams that won’t receive funding to travel?
It could affect UCLA going to nationals but I’m sure they could work something out if the NCAA didn’t end up changing the location of various regional/national competitions. If it is an issue for UCLA I’m sure the NCAA would make something happen to ensure that a top team wouldn’t miss out on nationals.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins
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