You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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Yulia Lozhechko of Russia

It’s time for the 198th 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 deal with Yulia Lozhechko? I think I read that she disobeyed the Russian coaches’ orders and threw her double arabian dismount to get into finals at worlds in 2007, but that sounds crazy to me.

That’s actually what happened! And it’s why they were like “aaaand you’re not going to Beijing.” So in qualifications, they told Yulia to dismount beam with a double tuck, but she didn’t think she’d make the final without the arabian double front, so she decided to go for it, fell, and was a reserve for the final. The Rodionenkos actually suspended her for three months for disobeying them, and then shortly before they named the Beijing team, they said she would not be in contention because even though she got an invite to the selection camp, when she showed up they said she had “mental issues” (yikes) and it wouldn’t matter if she finished well, they considered her too much of a wildcard and someone whose personality clashed with the goals of the team. She actually returned to the sport for a hot second in 2010 and looked great on beam but that’s that last I remember seeing of her.

If a gymnast has a false start, or their steps are off on the vault run but they don’t touch the table, how many times can that happen before they won’t get another chance to vault?

I believe they get one other shot if they balk the first attempt without touching the table.

Could a gymnast compete NCAA for four years and then go pro?

Yup! A few have done this, or at least have tried to do this…and back when there were professional gymnastics meets/shows, a few retired NCAA gymnasts would try to get involved in these so they could earn a little bit of money after they no longer needed to maintain their eligibility. 

What is the official name of McKayla Maroney’s second vault? Some call it the Mustafina, but she never got it named for her. If McKayla didn’t fall in finals, would the vault be called the Maroney?

It’s not officially named, and it won’t be. I never remember the ridiculousness that went into why Aliya didn’t get the vault named, because she hit it and had it credited in 2010 but there was some nonsense that went down where she wasn’t able to actually get it named, but because she (and Tatiana Nabieva, IIRC) submitted and competed (or attempted, in Tatiana’s case) it, it’s now no longer eligible to be a named skill. If it WAS eligible to be named, McKayla would’ve gotten it named for her when she hit it in qualifications — it doesn’t matter if you hit it in qualifications or finals, a skill can be named in any part of worlds or the Olympics (and now, world cups as well!).

Why did the gymnast have a mat in one of the corners in some floor routines at the U.S. Classic?

The sting mats aren’t allowed at major international meets, but many gymnasts will use them at domestic meets because it helps protect against injuries. If they’re dealing with pain, they prefer to have a softer landing so if a meet doesn’t forbid sting mats, coaches and gymnasts will opt for them if they’re trying to protect gymnasts and prevent further injuries.

Do you have a complete list of transfers to look out for in all the NCAA programs this year?

Not an official list or anything but off the top of my head, Ashley Hiller (she went to Florida and transferred to Oklahoma), Lacy Dagen (from Florida to Oregon State), Kaitlyn Szafranski (from LSU to Arizona State, where her sister competes and where she’ll definitely be a big help in the lineup, compared to LSU where she didn’t make any lineups), and Skyler Sheppard (from Arizona to Auburn…Arizona lost head coach Tabitha Yim to Stanford this season, so that could explain why Skyler and Shannon Farrell, who is transferring to Rutgers, are both transferring). Rutgers is also getting a former Mizzou gymnast, Rachel Ley, and Catie Conrad is moving to Pitt from Eastern Michigan. I think that’s it.

Who is Erika Briscoe? Did she qualify for elite?

Erika quit gymnastics when she was a level 7, and didn’t do anything in the sport for something like five years before her coach encouraged her to return. She ended up competing D3 gymnastics for Hamline, I believe for one season, and this year tried going elite but didn’t really have great scores and missed the three-event qualification scores by 5 points at Brestyan’s and 3 points at Parkettes, so she didn’t qualify to classics. I believe she’s going back to D3 this year, at Whitewater though, not Hamline.

How do elite gymnasts pay for all of their expenses? Does USA Gymnastics cover anything?

National team gymnasts get stipends of about $2000 a month that they use to cover training costs, but elite gymnasts who aren’t on the national team are responsible for covering everything themselves.

Can college gymnasts submit new skills to be named after them? Would that be part of the J.O. code?

I’m not sure how it would work. Since they use a revised version of the J.O. code I’d guess they have the same named skills section…but I’m not sure. I haven’t seen a separate NCAA list of named skills, anyway…and my brain is mush today but I can’t remember the last time I saw a legitimate new skill in NCAA…even Danusia Francis’ unique connection was two connected skills.

Do you think Ashton Locklear can get through this quad with her old bars routine without any upgrades?

Yeah, it’s definitely a strong enough routine, difficulty-wise. I just wish they’d change up some of the order of the skills because she has a few unnecessary connections. But either way, her 2016 routine will still be at a high enough value to give her a medal shot at major international meets.

When there is a walk-on, does that mean they were recruited but not good enough for a scholarship? Or did they turn up at the school and ask to be on the gymnastics team without being recruited?

Kind of both? Most walk-ons have an early connection to the school, either by knowing someone there or by attending camps for their entire childhoods and careers. I can think of many UCLA, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida walk-ons in particular who grew up in those states going to meets as kids and going to all of the summer camps, and then they get to level 10 and while they wouldn’t necessarily be a scholarship option, since these schools take the best of the best, they generally will reach out to the school and express their interest, like “I’m being recruited by all of these other D1 schools but I’d rather be a walk-on here” and coaches are familiar enough with them to recruit them as walk-ons.

So they’re technically recruited in that sense, no one just knocks on the door and is like “hey, let me compete!” and there are standards they have to meet if they want walk-on spots. But generally if a school is actively calling gymnasts with the intention to recruit them, it’s for scholarships. It would be very rare/odd for a coach to approach a gymnast and be like “hey, I don’t want to give you a scholarship, but I do want you to be a walk-on.” I think for the most part that contact is initiated by the interested gymnast.

On Ragan Smith’s Instagram, she has a lot of posts promoting Ozone leos. Is that a violation for NCAA eligibility rules? Is Texas Dreams getting paid instead of Ragan?

It’s not a violation. Many gymnasts hock various leo brands and even model in some leo ads without getting paid. Usually the gym gets money, and in the case of Texas Dreams, since Kim Zmeskal Burdette has a deal with Ozone, it’s more about her and the gym getting paid, but her athletes probably get a good amount of free gear and want to post about it. It’s not like Ozone is reaching out and saying “hey, we’ll give you these leos but you have to post about them.” It’s more like they get them as gifts and they want to post about them, which is a different thing.

What is a harder skill on beam…a standing full or an Arabian?

It would depend on the gymnast and what she finds more difficult. Some might find doing an entire full twist really hard, especially if they don’t have a lot of power and can’t really reach the height they need to get it fully around, but others who can easily do a standing full might struggle with the blind landing aspect of the arabian. I personally would find an arabian harder, but it’s definitely one of those things where it differs based on the person.

Do you think the wolf turn should be devalued?

Yes. I do. Especially in relation to other turns. But since it wasn’t devalued between 2016 and 2017, I doubt it’ll be devalued in the future if it didn’t happen at the end of last quad.

Are juniors scored more leniently than seniors? Is that why they score higher than seniors?

Not really. Some might have bonus aspects to their scores, so in that case, yeah, it’s more lenient to compete at the junior level, but in countries that don’t use bonuses juniors and seniors are often scored with the same level of strictness or leniency, though because judging can be lenient in one session and strict the next, it could be a coincidence that some junior divisions are scored more leniently than a senior session that follows. But that works the other way as well. In the U.S. sometimes I’m surprised to see some really tight scoring for juniors, and then the senior session starts and it’s a judging free-for-all haha.

What are the Hopes Championships?

Hopes is a level in gymnastics in the U.S. that’s kind of between level 10 and elite. Some gymnasts can go right from J.O. to elite without batting an eyelash, but others like to test the waters first with their routines and the whole experience in general, so rather than just starting out with elite qualifiers straight away, they qualify Hopes instead because it gives them a chance to get the experience without committing to elite.

Gymnasts can go straight to junior elite starting from age 10, and Hopes is meant for girls aged 10-13, so a gymnast who is ready for elite can just qualify for junior elite when she’s 10, or she can try a year or two in Hopes first. There are two Hopes divisions, age 10-11 and then age 12-13. To give Hopes gymnasts the chance to compete on a podium, USA Gymnastics developed the Hopes Championships that they can qualify to from the Hopes Classic at the ranch. Hopes Championships are held the day before the U.S. Classic, and it’s the final big meet of the season for girls who are at that pre-elite level.

This year, Love Birt from First State — an 11-year-old who competed Hopes in 2016 — was originally planning on qualifying Hopes again since she’s so young, and she got her score at the KPAC qualifier. But then she decided she might as well try to qualify junior elite, so she got her qualifying score for junior elite and competed that instead, and even made nationals at age 11, which is kind of awesome. She would’ve been fine doing another year of Hopes, but this definitely got her name out there as one to watch!

If Ellie Downie got a skill named for her on bars would it be the Downie II or just another Downie?

Since named skills are technically in the code with the first and last name attached, it would be another Downie…but I’d guess for differentiation in the gym vernacular we’d probably call it an E. Downie and a B. Downie or something? A Downie II would be a second skill from Becky, not a first skill from Ellie.

What music would you use for your own floor routine if you could pick?

I’m majorly into big band routines, so I would do something like “Mr. Pinstripe Suit” or “Jumping Jack” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and I also love “Jailhouse Rock” as floor music, but like, the arrangement that was in All Shook Up, not the old school Elvis Presley arrangements. The All Shook Up arrangement has a much fuller and richer sound. I’d also love a combo of “Who Run the World” and “Confident.” Actually this is what I would want for sure, someone do it NOW.

Who do you think would win a team competition between Texas and the rest of the United States?

I actually did the numbers once a couple of years ago, maybe last year? It was super close, thanks to Simone Biles repping for Texas, so right now I think the U.S. would be the clear winners, especially because most of the top elites, aside from about two at the moment, are from outside of Texas.

Let’s do an updated competition based on the top scores from nationals, shall we? I’m just going with nationals because it’s easier, I’m using juniors and seniors, just going with the top AAers based on nationals results, and doing three-up three-count with five team members like a regular team final at worlds this quad.

TEAM USA: Maile O’Keefe, Jordan Chiles, Riley McCusker, Trinity Thomas, Kara Eaker TEAM TEXAS: Ragan Smith, Emma Malabuyo, Audrey Davis, Deanne Soza, Annie Beard

VT USA: Maile 14.7, Jordan 15.15, Kara 13.7 = 43.55
VT TX: Emma 14.7, Audrey 14.5, Deanne 14.4 = 43.6

UB USA: Maile 14.2, Riley 14.55, Trinity 14.35 = 43.1
UB TX: Ragan 14.3, Emma 14.1, Audrey 13.5 = 41.9

BB USA: Maile 14.5, Riley 14.5, Kara 15.15 = 44.15
BB TX: Ragan 15.05, Emma 14.2, Annie 13.7 = 42.95

FX USA: Maile 14.05, Riley 13.9, Trinity 14.2 = 42.15
FX TX: Ragan 14.35, Emma 14.25, Annie 13.45 = 42.05

This Texas team is actually great, considering three of its members are juniors, but the U.S. beats them 172.95 to 170.5. Still super duper close, though! And once they get Simone back, they’d easily make up those two points. 🙂

What do current elites have to do to remain elite from season to season? Do they need qualifying scores or do they just need to not petition back to level 10?

They just need to qualify to classics each season. Most gymnasts take care of this at the previous year’s nationals, getting their classics scores then and not having to worry about requalifying in the new year. But for those who don’t qualify at nationals or who don’t compete at nationals due to injury, they just have to requalify to classics (and thus to elite, as qualifying to classics and qualifying to elite are interchangeable) either at an elite qualifier or, more commonly, at verification at the ranch.

To use a real-life example, Brenna Dowell could’ve competed at classics this year because she got the required score at nationals in 2016. But she didn’t compete this year, so if she decided to come back in 2018, she would have to get a qualification score for classics next year. She could go to any elite qualifier in the spring, or she could just let the national team staff know that she’s interested in coming back, and they’d probably invite her to camp where she could verify and get her classics scores. But Leah Clapper this year didn’t get the score at nationals that will qualify her to classics next year, and since she doesn’t have a national team connection and has never been to camp, she’d more than likely have to get her classics scores through a qualifier next year if she wants to come back.

A gymnast who has already qualified elite would have to petition back to level 10 if she wanted to no longer be at the elite level. So if Leah ends up not qualifying to classics next year, she couldn’t just start competing level 10; she’d have to petition back down to that level.

Are there any rhythmic gymnasts you enjoy watching?

I don’t watch a ton of rhythmic outside of worlds but I do have to say that the Averina twins KILL me, they’re fabulous and terrifying, I’m pretty sure they’re robot clones, and I also really like Katsiaryna Halkina, and I enjoyed the styles of several of the Ukrainians and Belarusians as well but just being a casual fan watching worlds, Halkina was the one I paid the most attention to.

Why do gymnasts only do saltos in a straddle position on bars? Why can’t they do a straddle position on floor?

I think it’s very awkward to tumble in a straddle. On bars it works because it’s a single salto, but a double salto in a straddle would be aerodynamically awkward (that body position slows the rotation tremendously) and hard to pull off. On vault, it’s actually a rule that gymnasts aren’t allowed to do straddled flight off the table.

What would’ve happened if either Biles’ or Hernandez’s score on beam was lower than Douglas and Raisman’s tied score? Who would’ve advanced to the final? What would the tie-breaking procedure be?

Since they tied on both the D and E score, at that point it would come down to Martha Karolyi having to choose which of the two would get to compete in the final.

Does Chow’s have any up-and-coming juniors or gymnasts that will be elite in a year or two?

No one who has really started on the elite path yet…he has some really great level 10s, but all of them are on the older end, and at this point probably wouldn’t go elite (or they’ve already tried elite but decided not to go further with it). Actually, I don’t think any of his level 9s are super competitive…Olivia Heckman, maybe? She just moved up to level 9 and she’s 12 so there’s still time, but yeah, there’s really no one who is likely to go elite in the next couple of years.

Is there a chance of Spencer or Uncle Tim having a picture of their faces on their blogs?

Haha, I don’t think so? I think they like maintaining some kind of anonymity. I think Spencer appeared in a few of our Instagram photos and stories at worlds? But yeah, they’re very mysterious humans.

Did Diana Bulimar retire?

Yes, she did. After roughly 73 billion injuries last quad, she finally decided to call it quits shortly after the Olympic test event.

If the three-up three-count rule had existed in 1996, who would you have had in team finals on each event in Atlanta?

Hmmmm…a tough one. For vault I’d definitely have Dominique Dawes, and then maybe Amy Chow and Shannon Miller? Or Kerri Strug, I can’t decide. For bars, definitely Dawes, Chow…and it would be a toss-up for the third one for me. Miller probably? But Dominique Moceanu had some great bars sets in Atlanta so she’s another option even though I wouldn’t normally think of her as a bars gymnast. Beam, obviously Miller, Moceanu, and the last spot…maybe Amanda Borden? Just to give her something to do, and as the team captain, her giving a solid lead-off on beam would be cool. And for floor, Dawes, Moceanu, and Strug. I’m going back and forth on a few of these but this is probably what I’d do!

Why do gymnasts practice in sleeveless leos but compete in long-sleeved leos? Do they ever practice with long sleeves to get a feel for the skills?

It’s more comfortable to train in sleeveless leos. Long-sleeved leos are fine for competition but wearing them for an eight-hour day at the gym would be a little much, so they stick to tank leos, or in NCAA and some club gyms (especially international gyms), they just go with sports bras and shorts. You don’t REALLY need to practice in a long-sleeved leo because especially at the high-level international meets, pretty much every gymnast there has competed in long-sleeved leos plenty of times…but many countries like to use podium training as a kind of dress rehearsal, so they’ll get a long-sleeved podium training leo just to make sure all of the little variables on that day are as close to what they’ll be in the actual competition.

Do you think the U.S. could produce and maintain an older gymnast like Catalina Ponor? It seems like they’re all done by 21.

Alicia Sacramone was basically the U.S. version of Ponor…same age, competed everything but bars, competed until an age that was older than usual…the difference in the U.S. is that they don’t really need gymnasts to stick around for multiple decades because the depth from the young kids coming up through the developmental program makes it so that it becomes super competitive and the veterans have to contend against kids who can do what they can do, which is why Alicia didn’t make it in 2012 — because McKayla Maroney, eight years her junior, beat her out for that spot. In Romania, Catalina stuck around until age 30 because there was literally no one who could challenge her with none of the rising juniors coming even close to her level. If the U.S. didn’t have depth, girls like Alicia and others who competed at an older age may have stuck around, but Alicia basically knew if she didn’t make it in 2012, she probably wasn’t going to make it in 2016 either. It’ll be interesting if Aly Raisman continues competing, since she’d be 26 going into Tokyo, similar to Alicia going into 2012…Alicia couldn’t win out against the depth from younger kids, so it’d be cool to see if Aly could make that happen, challenging 16-year-olds when she’s a decade older.

Aly Raisman and Alicia Sacramone are at their ultimate peaks in an Olympic year. You can only take one. Who is it?

Well, this fits nicely after the previous question. But Aly Raisman. Hands down.

I heard that the U.S. designed the compulsories bars routine for the 1992 quad. What were the countries that designed each compulsories routines for Barcelona and Atlanta?

These are the ones I was able to compile…

1992 – United States (UB), Czechoslovakia (BB), Romania (FX)
1996 – Ukraine (BB), Bulgaria (FX)

I even reached out on Twitter to see if anyone else could help fill in the gaps but unfortunately was not successful beyond this.

What is Maria Kharenkova’s current status?

She made her comeback at the Russian Cup in August, her first meet in over a year, and what a comeback it was. She was fabulous on beam and floor, and though she put up a valiant fight to make the worlds team (and probably should’ve competed instead of Angelina Melnikova), she wasn’t selected. She competed at the VTB Cup a couple months later, winning beam and getting the silver medals in the all-around and on floor, and then she won the silver on floor and the bronze on beam at Cottbus. She looks fabulous, and seems happy and relaxed in competition, compared to when she was a bit younger and always looked a bit nervous and fragile. I hope she continues kicking butt and makes some teams in the coming years.

Is Jade Carey the first woman to compete a kaz full? Could she get it named for her at worlds?

She’s the first woman to CALL it a kaz full but not the first to do it (in fact, several other gymnasts in the vault final with her also competed it). Everyone else who competes it just call it a tsuk double, even though pretty much every woman who competes a handspring half-on with two twists off is actually doing a kasamatsu entry, but the terms kaz and tsuk are used kind of interchangeably since the difference between the two is just the direction of the twist. I generally use tsuk because with kaz, a full twist is implied in the name kasamatsu…by saying a “kaz full” you mean a handspring half-on with two twists, which is confusing for some people who are like “wait, why is it a full if she’s twisting twice?” So I just say tsuk double to make it clear that there are two twists.

Who do you feel was the cleanest, with the best form, basics, and lines, from the United States?

I think Simone Biles pretty much exemplifies this…and yes, even though her body type is more muscular, she did have a really nice line. Her extension was always fab. She’s kind of everything you want in a gymnast. There have been others over time who fit most of these but she’s kind of everything all rolled into one.

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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25 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Just because I’ve been wondering this for a while… between Aly and Gabby, who do you think Martha would have picked for the beam final? I’m leaning toward Aly because she made a pretty big mistake (more room for improvement in the final) and was the reigning beam bronze medalist, but you never know!

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  2. “If the three-up three-count rule had existed in 1996, who would you have had in team finals on each event in Atlanta?”

    Romania could have very likely done all 12 routines with just 3 gymnasts – Amanar, Gogean, and Milosovici – and eked out a win. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it would have been better to put Marinescu up on bars over Gogean but yes those 3 were amazing and probably would have won in 3 up 3 count

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  3. If I could pick musics for floor routines, I’d go for contemporary / pop music. I liked that Catalina Ponor used “Powerful” by Ellie Goulding in 2016/2017 and Ksenia included some techno / upbeat track by Bajofondo in 2012. I miss more modern instrumental tracks of recent pop songs with drums, synths, etc… Maybe famous pop songs are not well considered and I find it strange that there are not more daring choices in competitions. During qualifications, I occasionally hear 1 or 2 musics like this but it seems that playing safe is more the norm.

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      • At least two gymnasts used a Lindsey Stirling song at Worlds this year! One was from the Azerbaijan I think? They didn’t make finals but you could hear the song playing in the background during qualifications.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh, ASU has so many great gymnasts coming in this year! As a Sun Devil fan, after a couple rough seasons, I’m so excited for this year!! Kaitlyn is definitely going to be a big thing for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Courtney Mccool had way better lines, forms and basics then Simone. COME AT ME! lol. Yes Simone had more power and success, but lines, toe point, no criss cross twists, She was the cleanest American I have ever seen produced by the USA. 🙂 COME AT ME. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • What about Shannon Miller??? Also, Ivana Hong.

      I really like McCool, in retrospect. At the time, I couldn’t get into her because of the hype surrounding her, people saying she was going to sweep the Olympics. But now when I look back – her gymnastics was amazing! Yes, certainly one of the best regarding form and lines. I would have thought *everyone* would have loved her gymnastics, though obviously that was not the case. I wish she had been around for longer in elite.

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      • Nope. Shannon was very clean. Just simply compare Shannons double layout off of bars, to Courtneys which was pencil textbook clean as hell, straight. Court’s shoulder lines etc exquisite. Ivana Hong is up there indeed, plus she said Courtney -which I believe she trained with at Gage- was one of her idols form wise… 🙂

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  6. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, ack! | The Gymternet

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