You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

It’s time for the 197th 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 big deal about Elena Eremina?

For me it’s that she’s Russia’s first solid all-arounder since Aliya Mustafina, and it’s also her ability to put up a great routine on any event while still ALSO having a speciality event with her bars. She’s not the most exciting gymnast on vault, beam, or floor, but can pretty much always make finals on these events if she competes well in qualifications, because while she won’t be one of the best on beam or floor, her routines are generally good enough to still get through. And then with bars, she has a great combination of unique combos, big skills, and strong execution…her leg form isn’t always perfect, but that aside, she’s fab on the event and never looks like she’s doing anything that’s too hard for her even though she’s doing some of the most difficult skills and combinations on the planet.

She also has a fantastic attitude and is a good friend to everyone on the competition floor with her, always the first to congratulate everyone or give a hug to those who need it. She’s just a great kid, and if she can keep it up with her insane consistency at big events, she will be huge on future Russian teams, especially because right now she’s just starting out, and still has so much time to keep improving. She’s not the thrilling future superstar that Aliya and Viktoria Komova were when they first came up, but in her own way she’s just as exciting as this solid, strong, consistent kid who can tackle any event the team needs her to hit.

On your gymnast database, how do you decide whether they’re on the list or not? Last I remembered, Huang Huidan and Yao Jinnan were going to retire and aren’t active anymore.

I generally just choose the gymnasts who are on their national teams or have high-level international experience. There are currently about 560 names on the list, some of whom are retired — including Huidan and Jinnan, which is why they’re italicized on the list.

If a gymnast performs a weiler kip with a straddle (like Shawn Johnson at Pan Ams in 2011) is the skill downgraded?

No, they’d just get a deduction for the leg separation. Shawn’s straddling on that skill was unintentional and there’s no such thing as a straddled weiler kip, because while an Endo is a front straddle swing it doesn’t look the same as an accidentally straddled weiler kip.

Before her bars, Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos does a weird jump with one leg bent and going backward. Is it a deduction?

Do you mean like as she jumps to mount the bars? I haven’t noticed it. But no, it wouldn’t have a deduction.

Why don’t any U.S. elites compete Korbuts? Are they not difficult enough or do they not learn them?

On beam? Or on bars? It’s a banned skill on bars, but on beam they’re mostly just not difficult enough. Most elites can do them pretty easily and you do see them in connections in some routines, which is especially nice when they can fluidly take the Korbut into their low beam choreo…but yeah, I think most of the top elites just have higher-level skills and wouldn’t find it worth it to connect a Korbut out of something when they can do skills with more value.

Can you explain how the team will work in 2020 with four gymnasts? I heard something about a specialist spot but I’m confused.

Just go here to see an explanation of how everything will work in 2020, in detail:

https://thegymter.net/2016/10/22/clearing-up-the-2020-confusion/

To quickly answer what you’re asking, yes, there is the possibility of each full team qualifying two INDIVIDUAL spots (INDIVIDUAL, not specialist, because countries can send all-arounders in these spots, not just specialists). The team itself that will compete together in qualifications and team finals will only have four gymnasts, but any country that qualifies a full team to Tokyo also has the opportunity to qualify two individual spots as well, through world cups and continental meets held in 2019 and 2020.

So the United States in 2020 could conceivably take a full team of four, an additional all-arounder to compete just as an individual, and a vault specialist, or they can take a team of four and two all-arounders, or a team of four and two specialists, or if they opt to not qualify any individual spots, they can also just focus on having that team of four with zero individual spots. Some teams with depth, like the United States, will definitely qualify two individuals on top of their full teams, but some of the teams with weak depth might struggle to qualify additional individual competitors.

How many gymnasts were allowed on the worlds team this year? Is there a requirement for numbers of all-arounders and specialists? Can you explain how worlds will work with no final?

For the women, all countries were allowed to bring up to four gymnasts. Some countries brought all four, and others just came with one. Generally countries that don’t have huge budgets will send only those they think will be strong shots for medals or they won’t bother sending anyone at all in individual years, because for them, if they don’t have a shot at finals, it’s not worth it to send a gymnast who will just compete in qualifications and nothing else (compared to the team years where they have to attend because it’s how Olympic qualifications begin).

As an aside, many countries find the world cups and other smaller international meets more worthwhile because world cups have weaker fields so a gymnast who wouldn’t make it past individual qualifications at worlds could medal and earn money at world cups, so these competitions are more valuable for gymnasts in terms of getting experience in finals in addition to having the added benefit of cash prizes.

Back to worlds, there is no requirement for all-arounders and specialists at worlds in an individual year. The only restriction is that only three gymnasts per country can go up on each event, so a country bringing four gymnasts wouldn’t be able to use four all-arounders. If they take four girls, they can use one all-arounder and three specialists or two all-arounders and two specialists, or they can just take 1-3 gymnasts and use all of them as all-arounders, or all as specialists. That’s up to them. This year, most of the bigger countries took four girls and used a mix of all-arounders and specialists, but many of the smaller programs took three gymnasts and had them all do the all-around, since it’s easier to qualify into the all-around final than it is to make it into an event final.

No doubt the answer is some form of “because the code doesn’t value it,” but maybe you can expand. Why don’t we see hop fulls on bars anymore? I love and miss them!

I think you’re on the right path with your own answer, but I also think it’s one of those “is the risk worth the cost?” kind of things. They’re not even super hard skills or anything, but when gymnasts can do similar skills that are worth the same (or more) but fit better into their routines or are easier, that’s what they tend to go with. I think one problem with hop fulls is that with so many routines building difficulty based on connection, if a hop full ends up being off slightly, it’s harder to connect that into something than it might be to connect a toe full or some other swinging element where the gymnast’s hands don’t leave the bars. That, and sometimes skills that are popular at one time just end up fading out in their popularity as other skills take over.

Who would you say has the best Patterson?

I absolutely have to go with Aly Raisman. I’m always in awe of how she never struggled with it, and sometimes even looked like she could over-rotate it. If you watch comparisons, most others who compete it land it in a position that looks like they’re sitting in a chair, whereas Aly is almost fully upright, like, no big deal. It has also been really clean in comparison, and this is what you got from her literally every time she competed it. Power, consistency, and precision…it’s all about Aly.

Are all leotards made of the same fabric worldwide? Is the fabric similar to swimsuit fabric? Is it comfortable? Does it breathe?

Most are made of similar fabrics with a spandex base, with nylon also a big ‘ingredient’ and then some decorative fabrics are woven in as well (like hologram fabrics). They’re sturdier and thicker than swimsuit fabrics, yet are lighter-weight than the old velvet-style leos so they’re more comfortable though not always super breathable (though I think a lot of leo companies are starting to use the dry tech kind of fabrics). They’re also pretty stretchy, and don’t limit movements at all.

Do you think any rhythmic jumps or turns could make their way into the artistic code of points?

Yeah, definitely! Some have in the past, and there are always elites who might not be the strongest tumblers so they try to spice it up with more unique dance elements, so I could see some of these gymnasts trying to bring more rhythmic skills ins.

Are walk-ons able to redshirt?

Yes, they can!

Why isn’t Sloane Blakely competing this year?

She had an injury early in the season that ended up taking her out. She had pre-qualified to classics and was hoping to be back in time to compete during the summer but it just wasn’t worth risking it.

Since the NCAA granted Peng Peng Lee’s request for a sixth year, will she still be on scholarship?

Yes. She has definitely graduated undergrad at this point (I think she graduated this summer), so since she has to be a student enrolled in classes in order to compete, she is probably enrolled in grad school?

What is the point of doing a triple series on beam if the gymnast consistently has bent legs on her layout stepouts? It only has a tenth series bonus, and bent legs is also a tenth…

Every skill is going to have deductions. Whether she does a triple series or just two connected acro skills, she’s going to get deducted on her skills, so if you can do a triple series well enough, it’s worth it to do the extra difficulty. You never know if a judge is going to miss a deduction on a certain skill, and so that extra tenth in difficulty might not end up mattering, but it also improves the overall strength of the routine, which can positively benefit. You might end up just breaking even, but you might get away with it and build on your score.

You mentioned previously that actively training gymnasts get funding. How does this work? Does USA Gymnastics just write gymnasts checks for gym dues?

They get a monthly stipend of about $2000 that they can use however they see fit, though most of it tends to go to training costs and the dozens of other costs that go into being an elite gymnast.

What are continental championships and has the U.S. sent gymnasts to them in the past?

Continental championships are European Championships, Asian Championships, African Championships, and for the U.S., Pan American Championships. The U.S. generally always sends gymnasts to this competition in team years, though they tend to skip individual years because the competition isn’t usually that strong and in many years, Pan Ams conflicts with classics and/or nationals.

Do you think Vanessa Ferrari could make it to Tokyo as a specialist?

Correction: individual, not specialist. Yeah, I think she could definitely qualify as an all-arounder separately from the team and then use that spot to just compete beam and floor in Tokyo, though I don’t know if she’d be able to get a legit specialist spot, because that would involve her either getting a medal on one of her speciality events at worlds the year prior (which is possible but not super likely or something to bet on), or winning the world cup series on one of her speciality events (also possible but really hard to bet on).

What makes the FIG want to sanction a meet like the American Cup?

In general when something like this happens, it’s because they’re looking for a new city to host an annual world cup either because another city that used to host it backed out or something similar, and so countries will apply to host and since the U.S. had been hosting the American Cup annually, it was easier for them to name it a world cup rather than having a country not used to hosting large-scale meets have to figure out what to do. The American Cups were also wildly popular in the U.S. so they’d have huge audiences, also an obvious plus as opposed to hosting in a smaller country without that visibility. I’m sure there were a few cities that wanted to host a world cup, but the American Cup had tons of pros and it was really worth it for the FIG to jump in.

Why didn’t Kalyany Steele compete on the second day of nationals last year?

She had an injury during training on the day between the two days of competition so she unfortunately had to withdraw.

What age did Aly Raisman qualify elite?

She qualified the year before she entered senior competition…I believe she was 14 when she qualified, and then turned 15 shortly after (and was 15 at her first classics and nationals).

Is it possible to have your elite status rescinded? Do athletes ever have to re-qualify?

I mean, if you do something that breaks the rules and get banned from elite competition, it’s possible to have it taken away. Otherwise, once a gymnast gets her compulsory elite score, she never has to re-qualify at the compulsory level, though a gymnast who doesn’t pre-qualify to classics at nationals the year before has to once again go to an elite qualifier or a verification camp at the ranch to get her elite optional scores again.

What would the D score be for this routine in the current code of points? https://youtu.be/tVMUk0tXrAg

It would be a 5.0. Her tumbling is good but she lacks difficulty in her dance elements, with mostly A skills aside from the Popa and the switch leaps, and even those are only C and B elements. She counts two B skills and an A skill in there, so if someone wanted to do this routine today she could get rid of those and replace them with three D dance elements, which would put her at a 5.7 just from those changes, one of the better D scores out there.

Do you think Shawn Johnson would’ve gotten credit for her layout on beam?

I think so…at least when she did it at her best. It looked like a layout should look.

Do you think any of the coral girls have a shot at elite?

I don’t follow them slash don’t think they’re a thing anymore now that their main coach is no longer at their gym and a few of them who were more serious about elite have moved to different gyms. The only one I really know is Sydney Morris, who competed Hopes this summer and is now at First State. I actually thought her floor at Hopes was really fun and she definitely showed promise, but at 13, she was one of the oldest Hopes girls and only placed 17th with a 47.150. To compare, there were girls competing elite this summer who were 11 and scoring four points higher than that, so she definitely needs some work if she wants to get her elite qualifying scores next year. I’m sure the move to First State will be a beneficial one, though! So we’ll see how she does next year.

Has there been a married WAG competitor more recently than Kelly Garrison in the 80s?

In the U.S., not that I can think of, aside from Dominique Moceanu when she tried to attempt a comeback in 2006. Oh, and Annia Hatch, her marriage was the reason she was able to compete for the U.S. so that’s a big one! Is Jenny Hansen married? She tried to go elite in 2012 when she was in her late 30s so it’s possible she was married at that time.

Outside of the U.S. there are many married competitors, like Angelina Radivilova of Ukraine and Agnes Suto-Tuuha of Iceland, both of whom also have husbands competing simultaneously at many events (including worlds this year), Oksana Chusovitina is an obvious one, Goksu Uctas Sanli of Turkey is married with a kid…and if Aliya Mustafina comes back to international competition, as she’s expected to, she’ll join that list as well.

What was the reason you originally started following gymnastics? I need a way to explain to my friends that I’m a gym nerd, but I don’t want to sound creepy.

I was a terrible gymnast when I was a kid, mostly doomed to be stuck at level 4, though I competed a few level 5 meets eventually before retiring when I was about 12 or 13 so I could focus on other things. But I always loved watching the sport and found that I could explain the sport better than I could actually execute any skills, so I enjoyed watching it with an analytical kind of eye. I guess some people would find it a weird sport to follow regularly so I get the whole trying to explain it without sounding creepy aspect, but I mean, even though it gets a reputation as being a sport for “little girls” gymnastics is actually one of the most physically and mentally challenging sports on the planet so just be like “uh, I obviously follow it because I’m in awe of the ridiculous talent, strength, and energy it takes to do this stuff.” If people could appreciate it more from that level rather than seeing it on the surface as that Olympic sport with little girls wearing sparkly leos and ponytails, I think more people would become interested. That’s what fascinates me, honestly…as someone who physically couldn’t do most of the skills, I was and still am totally in awe of people who can not only do them, but make them look easy.

What’s the difference between an uprise and an empty swing on bars? An empty swing is supposed to incur a deduction, but tons of releases have an empty swing, like after shaposh skills. What am I missing here?

An empty swing is a swing forward or backward without the execution of an element before the swing reverses to the opposite direction. It’s ‘bad’ because bars is supposed to be about fluidity. Obviously it’s almost physically impossible to construct an elite routine without any little breaks along the way, which is why gymnasts will kip cast to handstand between some skills instead of directly linking two more difficult skills, and actually doing two kip casts to handstand in a row would be penalized as well, though one is okay.

An uprise out of a skill like a shaposh has been acceptable in the past, but now gymnasts can’t actually compete shaposh skills caught backwards (so any shaposh or shaposh with a full twist) without connecting them to a subsequent element, which is why we’re starting to see more shaposh + Gienger, shaposh + Tkachev, and Maloney + stalder/clear hip/toe-on type of connections, in addition to the Maloney + Pak. The Maloney + Pak still has that element of the uprise out of the shaposh because the swing has to change direction, but because a Pak comes right out of that uprise it’s okay and isn’t ‘empty’ because it’s a swing that has a purpose.

I’ve heard the term ‘inbar Gienger’ used when the gymnast faces the opposite direction than normal. Is the term ‘inbar’ used this way for other skills? Like, if someone did a Galante facing outward, would that be an inbar inbar Tkachev?

I think people just mistake the term ‘inbar’ as meaning ‘between the bars’ and that miscommunication or whatever became common in gym fan vernacular? I always say ‘Gienger between the bars’ if I’m explaining it like that because an inbar is a kind of swing, not a word meant to describe if a skill is done between the bars as some people think. So a Galante between the bars wouldn’t be an inbar inbar Tkachev, it would just be an inbar Tkachev between the bars. I very rarely will be like “Maloney to Gienger between the bars” if I’m live blogging because if you’re reading quick hits, you have some knowledge of the sport and would know that if someone does a Gienger directly from a Maloney, it HAS to be between the bars because you can’t do an inward-facing Gienger out of a Maloney. But if I’m just casually talking about skills while watching training or something I might say “oh cool, she does a Tkachev between the bars!”

Does the vault runway have much padding? Would it be hard on the feet if a non-gymnast tried to run barefoot on it?

It has a slight give to it, but not really any padding or anything. It’s just slightly cushioned to provide support and protection against the hard ground underneath. A non-gymnast might not find it comfortable to run on regularly, but it’s better than nothing and I guess almost kind of mimics the feel of running shoes? Or not the FEEL of running shoes, but the thickness of the support, if that makes sense.

If you had to pick an NCAA dream team based on those who competed this past season, who would you pick and why?

McKayla Skinner and Maggie Nichols would be no-brainers. I love all-arounders who can perform at a high level on every single event, so girls like them would also make my team, like Mollie Korth, Chayse Capps, Kiana Winston, Maddie Gardiner…they’d all lead my team. I’d probably also want a few specialists just in case, but I’d really be all about the all-arounders. I’d honestly go around to every school and grab their best all-arounder. That’s my team.

What’s the highest score a gymnast ever got on an apparatus? What is the highest apparatus score of each quad?

The highest score is probably a 17.3 on bars from He Kexin in the 2008 quad (but that quad had a different code that had scores an average of 0.8 higher than subsequent quads, and this current quad is on average 0.5 lower than previous ones so you can’t compare bar routines from this quad against that 17.3 from Kexin).

I don’t know the highest apparatus scores of previous quads for all events because there were dozens and dozens of meets and I’d have to comb through literally tens of thousands of results. Actually, hundreds of thousands given that just this year alone, there have been about 30,000 elite scores. I’d guess that last quad, Simone had the highest scores on vault and floor while Aliya Mustafina and Madison Kocian had the best on bars.

I track all scores now, and have data from 170 meets this year alone. So far this year (and quad), the high scores belong to Rebeca Andrade and Jordan Chiles for a single vault (15.15), Maria Paseka for a two-vault average (14.933), Anastasia Iliankova on bars (15.275), Larisa Iordache on beam (15.566), and Mai Murakami on floor (14.8).

What happened to Jamie Dantzscher’s twin sisters?

They both were expected to compete at UCLA, but Jalynne retired as a sophomore due to a chronic back/rib injury and Janelle retired shortly after. I think she wanted to transfer, because she wasn’t making lineups at UCLA, but they wouldn’t release her or something? So she ended up medically retiring after the 2007 season, and I remember there was a big fight to allow her to medically retire, and the whole Dantzscher family had to go in and fight to get her off the team, basically.

What do you think of the practice of swapping gymnasts qualified to finals to get around the two-per-country rule?

I don’t love it. But sometimes I get it. Like, at EYOF this summer, Alice D’Amato qualified to the bars final over Elisa Iorio because Elisa had a bad routine in qualifications. Alice could’ve maybe medaled if others didn’t compete well, but Elisa was a threat for gold. The Italian team decided to swap Elisa in, and she ended up winning gold. Sometimes when fluke qualifications happen like that, where the gymnast who makes it just ‘lucks out’ and the gymnast who misses just has her worst performance in that moment, I’m like okay, I get it. It makes sense.

But other times I just get annoyed if the swap is made not because the girl who missed out is a gold medal threat, but because she’s the more ‘popular’ of the two or something. That’s more rare, but I’ve seen it happen before and yeah, it’s just annoying and unfair. It’s unfair in any sense, but sometimes even the gymnasts get it. Like, Alice at EYOF was more than happy to give up the spot, and Elisa told her after that the gold was partly hers because without Alice stepping aside, Elisa wouldn’t have been able to win it. So yeah, I basically have conflicting feelings about it but I do see why it benefits the program and I fully understand why some of these decisions are made.

Is it possible for a gymnast who wants a skill named after her to actually have it named for someone else? Like if she wanted to honor her coach or something?

No, it’s only named for the person who actually competes it.

If you woke up and suddenly had the authority to add five new rules to WAG while also abolishing five rules, what would they be and why?

1. Abolish restrictions in qualifications that take gymnasts out of individual contention and change the rule to make it that in a four-up, three-count qualification scenario, the team can have the fifth team member compete after the other four with the score only eligible for individual consideration, not team consideration.

2. Abolish two-per-country and 24-person all-around final fields and make it a 36-person field with the best of the best represented.

3. Lower the senior age requirement from 16 to 15.

4. Double the deductions on vault.

5. Change the all-around tie breaker from ‘lowest score dropped and remaining three count’ to ‘highest score dropped and remaining three count’ because by dropping the lowest score, they’re allowing the gymnast who had the worst day to rank higher.

In international meets with qualification rounds for the all-around final, why is it that two gymnasts who have the same score can’t be given equal standing in the rankings? Why is it that if the two tied gymnasts are of the same nationality, their country can’t pick the gymnast with the higher D?

The objective is to limit the finals to only 24 for the all-around and eight for each event final, so while they now allow for ties within the finals themselves, they don’t allow qualification ties because it could mess with the finals situation (these events often run on strict timing schedules, so even though an extra beam routine doesn’t seem like much, between the routine itself and the scoring, it can add up to five minutes to that event in finals, which messes up the whole schedule).

Technically, even though one gymnast would rank higher than the other gymnast from her country, the federation could always decide to swap them, since the gymnast who just missed out would be first in line to take the spot. So officially, the gymnast with the best three-event score with the lowest score dropped would win out, but the federation could be like “oh whoops, she’s injured, our other gymnast with the higher D is going in!”

Where in the arena would you recommend sitting for a competition?

I think sitting at one end so that you have a view of the entire arena at once is best. At nationals, I always sit in the press zone at the end of the arena where bars is, so I can just look out and see all four events at once, and thankfully that’s how worlds was set up this year as well for the media. At many international meets, the press zone is along the longer sides, so if you’re dead center you have a great view of vault and floor, so you have to whip your head in one direction to see beam, and then back in the other direction to watch bars, making it impossible to see what’s going on with those events at the same time. That’s how the set up was for Rio and for Euros this year, and I practically got whiplash trying to see everything on both…and I missed a lot of beam if I was trying to pay attention to a certain bars set, and vice versa. The ends do have cons as well, as you’re really close to one event, like bars for me generally, and you have a decent view of vault and floor, but beam all the way on the other end is impossible to see in detail. But hey, you can still actually see everything at once even if it’s not up close!

Do you like the combination a lot of gymnasts seem to be picking up on, where they do a triple wolf turn then a double wolf turn on beam?

No! I hate it! I get why coaches do it and why they’d want to take advantage of the loophole in the code that allows it, because it’s a great way to build a big D score with skills that are relatively simple compared to other D and E elements, but it’s lazy routine construction and I don’t care how big your D is — it’s boring as heck. But coaches aren’t like “what skills will please Lauren and the fans the most?!” when creating routines. They’re like “what skills will have the highest difficulty and the lowest possible deductions?” and wolf turns are literally the definition of that. I hate it, but I get it.

Who are all of the elites from Texas Dreams in 2013 to present?

The ones who competed at the national level during this period were/are Kennedy Baker, Sydney Barros, Annie Beard, Peyton Ernst, Colbi Flory, Arianna Guerra, Nica Hults, Kiya Johnson, Bailie Key, Emma Malabuyo, Grace Quinn, Ragan Smith, Deanne Soza, Macy Toronjo, and Abigail Walker.

How many people will be on the worlds team in 2018?

A total of five gymnasts will be on full worlds teams in 2018 and 2019.

Why do some gymnasts wear bands around their knees, like Alyona Shchennikova had at the U.S. Classic?

They’re basically stabilization bands that help with things like hard landings. They’re especially helpful for athletes who deal with patella-femoral pain, where the underside of the knee cap is constantly coming in contact with the femur. The straps are worn just under the knee cap to provide support so that the knee cap isn’t constantly banging against the femur. It decreases pain and prevents the cartilage from degenerating.

Why wear one of those half ballet shoes on beam if you’re not going to do more than a full turn?

Two words — sweaty feet. Even just a full turn can be difficult for gymnasts whose feet get so sweaty that chalk on its own doesn’t do much to help.

In Anya Pilgrim’s bars from the U.S. Classic, I thought her first skill was a forward sole circle half, but her feet don’t touch the bar, so was it an inbar forward stalder? Is she the first person to compete that skill?

It was a forward inbar half, and yes, she is the first person to compete it! Only a few gymnasts do forward toe-ons, so those are unique on their own, but a forward inbar is definitely something I’ve never seen in competition before.

What is ‘flamingoing?’

I was reading this as like flaming? Going flaming? Flame-going? and was thinking this had something to do with the Olympic flame. It took me a solid two minutes to see it as what I THINK you mean, which is flamingo-ing! Hahaha. When the code of points changed for the start of the 2016 quad and said a gymnast couldn’t stand on two feet in the corner for more than one floor pass (or whatever the rule was exactly, this is just my remembering of what it was), gymnasts who needed to stand in the corner to catch their breath before a pass — which was almost everyone — would just stand in the corner on one leg with the other one bent in a retiré with the knee forward…making them look like they were standing like a flamingo. It’s not as bad this quad, but it definitely still happens.

Why didn’t Alicia Sacramone ever do bars?

She used to do bars way back in the day but it wasn’t only a bad event for her, it also legitimately scared her. So she preferred to drop it and focus on her good events, partly because it helped her get better on the events she was great at, but it also made her a more confident competitor because she was no longer struggling through one really messy event and getting super low scores, which can be disheartening and affect your other events.

Are the entries for a Kasamatsu and Tsukahara different?

Yes, they’re both handspring half-on (or quarter-on) vaults, but the way the gymnast twists off is where the differentiation comes in. A kasamatsu twists in the direction of the approach (a left-handed approach twists left and a right-handed approach twists right) and a tsukahara twists in the opposite direction of the approach (a left-handed approach twists right and a right-handed approach twists left).

Most gymnasts are doing kasamatsu vaults, but the names are used interchangeably almost because it really doesn’t matter. The other difference you need to know is that with a kasamatsu, a full twist is implied, whereas in a tsukahara, it’s not. So if someone says “a kas full,” which is what Jade Carey calls her vault, it’s actually a handspring half-on with two twists off, but if Jade twisted in the opposite direction of her approach and you wanted to call her vault a tsuk, you’d call it a tsuk double.

I personally just call everything a tsuk because people will sometimes find the number of twists confusing, seeing “kas full” and assuming it’s only one twist…so I’ll just say tsuk double or tsuk triple because then you can see right there that they did two twists or three, and you don’t have to remind yourself to add a twist, which definitely boggles the minds of some people!

Has John Roethlisberger finally replaced Al Trautwig at NBC for gym coverage?

I think it’s in the works if it hasn’t been a full takeover yet? I know he’s been doing more with them, so I’m assuming they’re basically phasing Al out and bringing John in, but I don’t know if Al is fully done yet. We’ll see! Definitely a positive change for coverage.

What are the best gymnastics books in your opinion? Who do you think would have the most interesting autobiography out of the U.S. gymnasts who don’t yet have books out?

ALY RAISMAN! I generally find most gym bios, at least for the Americans, kind of bland and boring because they all get ghostwriters who know nothing about the sport and so what you end up reading is a Wikipedia page with a few anecdotes and misidentified skills thrown in. I think in Gabby Douglas’ book, she talks about doing a double layout on the beam. I’m like oh REALLY now. Please perform this for me.

But Aly’s book is written by Blythe Lawrence, a former gymnast and gymnastics journalist who worked with the FIG and is a great writer on top of all of that. AND SHE KNOWS HER STUFF. Not only is Aly’s book a bit more personal and in-depth than the others, because she’s a bit older and knows herself a bit better and is pretty insightful about who she is as a gymnast and human, but Blythe brings it to a whole other level with how she talks about the sport and Aly’s role in the sport. I wouldn’t recommend any other U.S. autobiography to be honest, and I stopped reading them after Gabby’s book, but Aly’s is WELL WORTH IT.

As for those who don’t have books yet, I’m really wanting legitimate in-depth tell-alls from Rebecca Bross, Alicia Sacramone, Jamie Dantzscher…I think all three have more than just a run-of-the-mill experience with the sport and they all seem like they’d be pretty honest about their experiences and the depictions of how things were for them and their teammates. And in 20 years, I want a REAL memoir from Gabby.

Have you been satisfied with the Olympic teams from the past couple of years for the U.S.? Would you change anything?

The one thing that got to me was MyKayla Skinner not making it in 2016 when she could’ve been a legitimate threat for a vault medal, and based on the field would have easily won bronze, but I knew she wasn’t going to get a spot over Gabby Douglas even though she was clearly the better option of the two at trials. She could’ve gotten a 63 all-around and stuck a Yurchenko triple at that meet and Gabby still would’ve been on the team. Sucks, but I knew it was coming and wasn’t surprised. Otherwise I’ve been satisfied and found the teams to be as I expected in the months leading up to trials, with the exception of wondering who would go for bars in 2012…though by the time we got to nationals it was pretty clear it would be Kyla Ross, so even though I was still hoping for a last-minute killer comeback from Nastia Liukin, no one stepped it up like Kyla did at that meet and by the time we got to trials we basically knew and were happy with the situation.

Out of Stefania Stanila, Paula Tudorache, and Anamaria Ocolisan, who were the second and third best bar workers in Romania last quad, after Larisa Iordache?

Of those three, the second-best was definitely Stefania. Her consistency in 2014 was mind-blowing. Anamaria had a lot of potential there, but struggled a bit more I think, though I do think she had more potential than Stefania, and if I had to pick someone as the weakest link in this bunch, I’d go with Paula.

Did Anna Huber qualify elite this year? Why wasn’t she at the U.S. Classic?

She qualified elite at Brestyan’s early in the year, and she looked great there, but then by the time the American Classic came along she was injured so she was only able to do bars and beam. She was hoping to get all-around back by the U.S. Classic, but since juniors have to compete all four events to qualify to nationals, when she couldn’t get her all-around back in time, she decided to skip the rest of the season to keep healing.

Since the Mo salto has been done, do you think a gymnast could hypothetically do a Kovacs on bars?

I do think it’s possible, though the low bar being in the way makes it super dangerous if they don’t catch. I’m sure there are a few gymnasts who could learn it and compete it, but they probably don’t because it’s too much of a risk.

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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35 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. So is making the Worlds team in 2018-2019 kind of a gamble if you hope to go to the Olympics? Because to me it seems strange that you can help your country qualify to compete in Tokyo but not actually go since there are only 4 spots and you wouldn’t be eligible for an individual slot, right? Does this mean that any alternates chosen for Tokyo would have to be girls who weren’t on the 2018 or 2019 teams either?

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  2. Gabby won the American Cup + Jesolo in 2016, and placed in the top 5 at National’s and after National’s, gym fans everywhere pretty much agreed the top 5 girls at Nationals were the locks for Rio. Skinner had a great trials, but do you think that the decision at that point had already been made, and that Skinner brought IT too late? I agree that either Gabby or Skinner would have been great choices for the 5th spot, but sometimes I ponder if Trials was just a fluke great meet for Skinner and a fluke bad meet for Gabby.

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    • I think Gabby showed the best of what she had to offer earlier in the season, whereas MyKayla worked to peak more where she needed to. Either way, they both would’ve been a good option, but it was clear Gabby wouldn’t be used for anything but bars in Rio. I don’t think Gabby made the team for what she did in 2012, she clearly stepped up and had a mostly great comeback, but I think if anyone else looked the way she did at trials compared to how MyKayla looked, that spot would’ve gone to MyKayla. It would’ve created a better balance, too, with Simone, Laurie, and Aly doing the all-around, Madison doing bars and beam, and MyKayla doing vault and floor, and instead the team ended up being bars-heavy and only able to qualify one vaulter, but either way it doesn’t really matter because they were going to win gold no matter what they did. Gabby was an acceptable choice and MyKayla would have been an acceptable choice. And Gabby performed GREAT in Rio and without two-per-country, would’ve easily won an AA medal. But I like balance and scenarios that create the most possible medalists, so I was def team MyKayla. But I was never ANTI team Gabby.

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        • I do, but it wasn’t like they added her on the team for her vault — even though she was the stronger of the two, it was by a tenth at most. No decision was made to add Gabby to the team based on what she could do on vault over Laurie. I’m still confused about how Laurie outscored her on vault, but they could’ve put the weakest vaulter up from trials and been fine so it really wasn’t a concern for them.

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    • The issue is that Gabby had a bad trials meet, while Mykayla had the.best.meet.of.her.life. I think Mykayla should have been rewarded for winning when it counted while Gabby sucked there, lol. I do think it was possible (or even likely) that Gabby could have gotten bars bronze without her mistake, but if Mykayla simply stood her vaults up, she unquestionably had a bronze or possibly a silver medal there. She also would have been a better third floor worker than Laurie too, in terms of difficulty and showing off our difficult tumbling. And come on, you know you wanted three Amanars in our vault lineup #UnitedStatesofAmanar

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      • It’s interesting, because I think Mykayla totally should have gone. I know Martha wanted a good bars team and there’s something to be said for bringing the reigning Olympic AA camp back, but it’s been said time and again that the US’s goals are team gold, AA medals and then individual medals. And everyone knows Mykayla was more of a lock for a vault medal than Gabby was for a bars medal.

        Gabby is a great gymnast. It was just a dick move for USAG/Martha to say “these are our goals, these are our goals” and then suddenly not use that to actually pick the team. Obviously, getting the most medals wasn’t their goal. They still would have got team gold whether they brought Mykayla or Gabby. They lost out on a guaranteed additional medal on vault (assuming she didn’t do what Maroney did) for the maybe medal on bars.

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        • I think it was all about the team
          Mykayla gave the team around 0.3-0.4 on vault over Gabby – whereas Gabby gave the team 0.8-0.9 on bars
          I also think that Mykayla’s inconsistency on beam at Nationals sealed her fate as well – only scoring 12 with multiple falls was a big problem with Martha – Martha always hated falls

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  3. Also, I think Eremina is gonna be HUGE for Russia! I fell in love with her at Euros and I was like “Ah, that’s the next big star for the Russian team”. She easily would have won the AA without her bars flub. Also, imagine a Musty, Komova, Melnikova, Eremina, Klimenko team! TOO MANY BAR WORKERS! Lend some to Romania lol.
    VT: Klimenko, Melnikova, Musty
    UB: Musty, Komova (?), Eremina alt: Melka
    BB: Eremina, Musty, Komova/Klimenko
    FX: Eremina, Melnikova, Musty/Klimenko
    This team would be a HUGE threat! I doubt they’ll hold together mentally, but talent wise, they rival the USA! Sorry, we’re still gonna win, we have superwoman in our lineup. Good luck! (Side note,Russia has so much depth right now that there’s no way China will be able to keep up and retain their #2 spot in the world).

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  4. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: I am not a victim. I am a survivor. | The Gymternet

  5. Just one question re: 2020 quals.
    Say a team qualifies in 2018. Is it only the gymnasts on that team that are ineligible for certain individual spots or is the 2019 team also ineligible? Could a country qualify in 2019 with a totally different team from their 2018 one and still use those 2018 gymnasts to qualify additional spots?
    I am so sorry to ask more 2020 questions- I know you are sick of them!

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  6. Sorry if I come off as a smart ass, but if Mykayla Skinner got a 63 in the AA at trials she would’ve won and been named to the team because the winner gets an automatic spot on the team. I do believe Gabby would’ve been named regardless, which means she would probably have kicked out Kocian or Hernandez.

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    • Actually, Trials is a two-day event, so a 63 on one day wouldn’t necessarily mean she would’ve beaten Simone’s two day score. But that’s just semantics and literally not the point. The point is that no matter what MyKayla did at trials, Gabby was always going to be the one who went.

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  7. Re: the Anya Pilgrim question – so if she made it to worlds or Olympice and competed that someday, would she get it named for her? Or is it just an inbar and isn’t different enough?

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    • You can support the blog Gymnovosti created by Liubov Baladzhaeva: when you support her via Patreon, you receive translations of the chapters of Khorkina’s first memoirs (and Larissa Latynina‘s too). It’s probably the only fast way to read it.

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  8. I like the book “The End of the Perfect 10: The Making and Breaking of Gymnastics’ Top Score ―from Nadia to Now”; I haven’t finished it yet but it has lots of information about competitions and how the sport has evolved since the early 70s. I don’t know if I state the obvious or if I advert a book that is not considered as relevant as I think but I find it very informative.
    Regarding Eremina, she’s such a sweet and nice girl. And definitely shows strong camaraderie during competitions.

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    • Yeah, I’ve read that…it’s great. Not a biography though, so that’s what I was talking about here. I did forget another autobiography that was great, though, which was Jen Sey’s book!

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