It’s time for the 200th 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.
Why is it that the Olympics are so much more important/more competitive than worlds when it’s the same gymnasts?
I honestly don’t know how to answer this aside from saying “…BECAUSE IT’S THE FRIGGIN OLYMPICS.” The Olympics have a nearly 3000-year history, with the modern Olympics going back 120 years. As the biggest multi-sport event on earth, combining some of the best athletes in the world in every given sport, there’s no contest between this event and an annual single-sport event. Worlds are the biggest meet of each non-Olympic year, and they’re awesome, but the Olympics are what kids in every sport dream about getting to one day. The Olympics are thus more competitive than worlds generally because almost everyone is training to peak there each quad, not training to peak at worlds. It’s like, if an athlete is ready for worlds, she might as well go for it and try to win medals, but she’s probably not going to fight through injury or get into 100% with her routines for worlds if her ultimate goal is the Olympics. I remember in 2014 everyone getting up in arms about Aliya Mustafina’s bars not being good, and blah blah blah, but Aliya wasn’t training for a mid-quad bars medal. She cared about getting a second Olympic gold, and that’s exactly what she prepared for and did. With all of the top athletes in a similar frame of mind, the best of the best show up at the Olympics looking better than they have all quad, and so competition there is tougher than it is at worlds in any given year.
From the new elites, who do you think has potential to perform a Biles on floor? Who has the most potential on floor in general?
I think it looks like Trinity Thomas can probably do one, and Jade Carey for sure. Of the current new elites, Jade absolutely has the best potential on floor. Her skills this year were already huge, and yet they already looked too easy for her, like she is definitely in the gym doing double double layouts and piked double arabians and everything. Oh, and Jay Jay Marshall! She has some cleaning up to do, but she’s crazy powerful. I love her.
What is the following line worth in the current code of points: roundoff + arabian stepout + roundoff + back handspring + double full + punch front + roundoff + back handspring + double full? I’m curious to see how cheer tumbling compares to gymnastics!
There wouldn’t be any CV for this pass…and most of the skills are A skills so if it’s in the context of a full routine assuming all of the other elements counting are C+, you’d only get the C value for one of the double fulls, so 0.3. But if someone did this pass in a routine with only other basic A skills or something, the skills in this pass would be 0.8 (since most of the skills are repeated and you only get credit for each skill once, you’d get credit for five — one double full, the arabian stepout, one roundoff, one back handspring, and the punch front). Basically it’s not worth anything, really, and it’s why gymnasts don’t do extended cheer passes — none of the elements are valuable enough either on their own or connected to other skills.
In a four-up three-count situation, if the first gymnasts hit with good scores, why doesn’t the last one scratch (like Maria Paseka on bars in London)? It seems like a good way to avoid injury when you don’t really need that gymnast’s score.
Some do use the strategy of having the best three go first and then the weakest up fourth, so she can compete if she needs to in the instance that someone else falls, but she doesn’t have to go up if the first three did well. But other teams like the strategy of putting everyone up, because you never know who could just blow it out of the water, and if you have four and can drop one, you might as well use all four. Also, as scoring might tend to build throughout the rotation, the last one up generally benefits from the highest E scores, so they want their best going up fourth most of the time in order to make sure she gets the best possible score.
If a gymnast doesn’t compete at 2019 worlds and misses the world cup series, is she completely out of contention for a specialist spot at the Olympics? Can she only try to contend for a team spot, assuming her country has a full team going?
Individual spot, not specialist spot. If she’s from a country without a full team, she can compete at her continental championships meet in 2020 and hope to qualify as an all-arounder there, and if she’s from a country with a full team that has qualified, she can contend internally for one of the four spots on her country’s team.
Is there any reason Romania didn’t want to send four gymnasts to worlds? Isn’t it a great way to gain experience for up-and-coming gymnasts?
It’s good experience, yes, but not always the best experience if your gymnasts don’t have a shot at any finals. Many countries would rather spend money sending gymnasts to world cups with fewer competitors so they have a shot to qualify to finals. Getting finals experience at a world cup is definitely preferable to competing a few events in the qualifications round at worlds.
Do you think Simone Biles deserved the bronze on beam in Rio?
It kills me, because she’s Simone, but with her mistake and with how good some of the others looked — MARINE BOYER, GAHHHH — I really really really wanted it to go to someone with a hit routine. The fact that Marine was only a tenth back with one of the best-executed sets of the meet continues to kill me. God, that would’ve been so huge for France. I do love that the medal allowed Simone to tie for the best Olympic medal record, but I really did want Marine to get it.
What would Aly Raisman’s difficulty be using the new code of points for her 2016 routines?
Vault would be 5.8 for her Amanar, bars would be 5.5, beam would be 6.0, and floor would be 6.2, assuming everything was credited for beam and floor though we know she had issues getting her layout credited on beam in the past.
Do you think Aliya Mustafina will come back?
Yes, I do! She’s well on her way and looking great in training, with the goal of coming back as an all-arounder at Russian Championships in March. We’ll see how she ends up looking in competition, but if she can physically get her skills back, I doubt the mental aspect of competition will be all that hard for her. But true to form, she probably won’t bring the best of what she can do until Tokyo. She’s great at peaking.
Has anyone else competed with the same ADHD medication that Simone Biles was taking while competing?
Yes, many athletes have! I don’t know about specific to gymnastics but she’s definitely not the only athlete taking ADHD medication.
When the FIG writes the code of points, do they look at which country dominated and then make changes with the goal of balancing things out? For example, in the 2000 quad, the Romanians dominated with routines constructed to have start values at 10.0, but they weren’t artistic, so in the 2004 quad, the code had a deduction for not showing artistry.
I think that can come into play at times, but they don’t necessarily look at who dominated but rather what gave them advantages maybe? Like the U.S. had a huuuuge advantage with their Amanars in 2012, and then the next quad they were devalued by 0.2 to kind of even the playing field both in the team and in all-around competitions. That definitely can be a reason behind FIG code changes, but I think they also more broadly look at things that are problematic in the sport. Like no one from the U.S. was abusing sheep jumps on beam, but in general there were lots of heinous sheep jumps from many competitors and I think their reasoning for devaluing them was to discourage gymnasts from using them.
How do MAG gymnasts manage to compete NCAA and elite at the same time AND still graduate? Do they have to take every fall off of school to compete elite?
The only ones who compete elite in the fall are those going to worlds, and usually most of those who make the team with a few exceptions have already graduated from college. Male elites who are in college train elite at college, and compete with/represent their college teams at national elite meets, which is why at U.S. nationals you’ll see Akash Modi, who used to train at Monmouth before going to college, now competes for Stanford…and then once they graduate they either go back to training in a club or they train at the USOTC. They are able to double-team elite and NCAA because the two are meant to work together, not separate from one another as it is in WAG.
In the 90s, gymnasts used to do a low to high transition that’s almost like a toe shoot, but they straddle up over the low bar before going to the high bar. What is this skill called, and why don’t we ever see it?
Are you thinking of maybe a clear hip hecht?
A couple of gymnasts still do this, usually weaker gymnasts who can’t yet do the shaposh style skills as well, but don’t want to have to count a toe shoot or a Ray, both of which are only a B. A couple of Canadians do the clear hip hecht, as does Thea Brogli of switzerland, I think Vasiliki Millousi had one at one point…definitely more of a middle-ground skill.
EDIT: The skill was actually this one seen at the 5 second mark in this video. This skill actually isn’t worth anything in elite and I believe would be penalized if a gymnast competed it, just like jumping to the high bar would be penalized because leg support transitions aren’t allowed in the current code. It would definitely be an option for NCAA, though! I guess jumping to the high bar is just easier, and if they’re going to do a shoot to high, they might as well just do a toe shoot or something and get actual value for a skill?
Could the tucked and piked versions of the Comaneci and counter Kim still get named after people as the originals were just straddles? Or is every body position known in the context of those original names (e.g. a piked Comaneci)?
It depends…the WTC has no rhyme or reason to what they decide to name, and often a lot of the more old-school skills just end up being the piked whatever, instead of getting a whole new name. I think technically the Comaneci is supposed to be done in a straddle, so maybe they’d decide that a tucked or piked (or layout!!! Shhh let’s not get greedy) could be eligible to be named? But who knows with them.
Would female gymnasts be able to do Yurchenko vaults with more than 2.5 twists if they did them in a tuck rather than in a layout?
I actually think a tuck is harder to twist in than a layout off vault in a way! You can do more with the height you get while in a tucked position, so it’s easier to do a double tuck than a double layout, but it’s not as friendly in terms of aerodynamics when twisting, and you actually end up twisting more slowly in the air so that extra “room” you have from tucking your body compared to laying it out wouldn’t even matter. I honestly can’t think of anyone that has done more than a 1½ in a tucked position…so someone would have to tackle a double before we start thinking about a triple.
How much does a gymnast get deducted for unpointed toes on inbar skills? What’s the point of doing inbars with flexed feet considering they’ll get deducted more for their feet than they would if they just did toe-ons?
Probably just a tenth at most, the same for all flexed feet on any bars skill/skill in general. Many gymnasts doing inbars with flexed feet probably don’t realize it. Flexed feet are a bad habit to break, especially in competition when you’re thinking about a million things. An inbar might look perfect and deduction-free in training, but then they get to the competition and they’re flexing. They just have to hope the judges don’t see them or are lenient and only take the deduction once instead of for every single inbar.
Why did Elfi Schlegel leave her job at NBC?
Her contract was up and they decided not to renew it. I think they just wanted someone with a fresher perspective on the sport who had competed somewhat recently and had more of an audience who would tune in and be like “oh yay!” which Nastia Liukin was perfect for.
With the new changes to the code, why do you think some people rely on punch fronts to get the CR instead of doing actual front tumbling?
If they don’t like front tumbling for whatever reason — some people are actually scared of front tumbling, others struggle with blind landings — they’d rather just punch or do a front through to a backwards pass so they don’t have to worry too much about the problems they’d have with legitimate front tumbling.
I’ve seen a few times where gymnasts are on the floor for finals they didn’t make. Why do they do this? Can’t the coaches handle everything?
I think they’re there as like the ‘assistant’ coaches or whatever? Like they’re allowed to have two people on the floor with them, so instead of having two coaches, they prefer to have a coach and a teammate. It could just be that their teammates are better at giving them a pep talk or whatever before they compete, so the coach is there to do coach stuff, but the teammate is there more for moral support. Russia is big on this, and I noticed Rune Hermans was on the floor with Nina Derwael during the bars final this year.
In prelims at 2014 worlds, both Stefania Stanila and Andreea Munteanu fell on beam, but why did Stanila have the higher E score? She also had a higher E score in team finals when she fell there as well.
Probably because she had a better-executed routine? That’s usually why one E score is higher than another, haha. If they both fall, there are still a bunch of other problems that have to be deducted and Stefania just had fewer issues than Andreea did.
Watching the qualifications video now to refresh my brain and Stefania came off on the tuck full, but otherwise it was a really good routine. The only real issue was her being slightly short on her switch half, but honestly, that routine was excellent otherwise. Andreea fell on her switch side but also had a wobble on her tuck full, another wobble on her punch front, a wobble on her full turn, and a step back on her dismount.
Stefania is a weaker beam worker in general, so if both had hit routines with no big mistakes, Andreea would’ve scored higher, but Stefania with her weaker skills but cleaner routine beat out Andreaa with her strong skills but wobblier routine.
How does turning senior work for men?
I believe the rule is that in the year they turn 18, they can start competing at the senior level, but they can basically begin the year still competing as a junior and then transition in the middle of the year if they want, or they can spend the whole year at the junior level and then wait until the following year to fully compete as a senior. It’s bizarre, but I guess it gives those transitioning to senior competition time to get their feet wet. It’d be cool to have a similar rule for women who are 15, which would also allow them the chance to compete at worlds in the year before the Olympics. That way it’s the best of both worlds, where 15-year-olds who are ready to handle major competition can compete as seniors, whereas those not quite ready can have another year to keep preparing.
Has any American gymnast ever returned to elite competition after having a child? What would happen if a national team member got pregnant?
Not recently…like maybe WAY back in the day but no one that has competed in the past 30 or so years. Outside the U.S. it has happened quite a few times, though. If a national team member got pregnant, she’d probably leave and have her child…and if she wanted to come back eventually she probably could; I doubt they’d punish her or anything.
What music is in Ragan Smith’s new floor routine? I only recognize the very opening, but I can’t figure out the main part with all of the horns, or the part with the surfer music.
It’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin” by Nancy Sinatra. She does a kind of Austin Powers mix with some other stuff thrown in but that’s the main theme. I always think of the Fembots when I see it and giggle and then am glad they didn’t give her actual Fembot choreography.
How do you put on a high-neck leotard? How long does it take to get in and out of a long-sleeved competition leotard?
Some of the high-neck ones have little zippers in the background, or hooks around the collar part. Leos don’t take that long to get in and out of…no longer than putting on a bathing suit or other tight clothes. A lot of the girls wear them only up to their waists with a t-shirt on when they’re waiting around before the competition, and then when it’s time to march out, they pull the other half up and put the sleeves on. I remember Alicia Sacramone always walking around with her leo half down and the arms tied around her waist, haha. It’s quick to pull the rest on though.
Do you think Aly Raisman speaking up about the sexual abuse and USA Gymnastics’ tepid response is a sign that she might not be planning a comeback?
No, I think she still really wants to come back and it would be fairly obvious if she wasn’t named to teams in the future not because of how she looks in competition but due to backlash for what she’s said in speaking out against USA Gymnastics. USAG has gone through enough crap…if they did something like that, I’m pretty sure Beauty and the Beast mobs would show up with pitchforks and fire and burn everything to the ground.
Why is the U.S. men’s team allowed to send four gymnasts who were not named to the national team to world championships? I thought you were automatically added to the national team if you received an international assignment.
They are on the national team. The U.S. men’s program names automatic national team members based on the all-around competition directly after nationals ends, and then they go off and meet to decide who the other national team members will be based on how they performed as specialists. The four who made the worlds team as specialists were all named following the naming of the initial national team.
What would Terin Humphrey’s 2004 EF bars and beam routines be worth in the code this quad?
I believe her bars would have a 5.3 (I’m just going to pretend she did a toe shoot for her second low-to-high transition instead of that soul circle + jump to high bar) and her beam would have about a 5.4.
Where is Trinity Thomas going to college?
I don’t think she has decided yet, but she went on a visit to UCLA this year…official visit, I think. I’m glad she’s waiting until she’s older than a fetus to decide.
How do you begin to get involved in NCAA gymnastics as a coach or volunteer?
You can start coaching at gyms for lower levels to get a feel for coaching, and then work your way up…for volunteer coach positions in NCAA they usually go with former gymnasts from the team who are now in grad school, or gymnasts who have experience in the sport and a connection to the school, as was the case with Jordyn Wieber. You can probably be a volunteer team manager at the NCAA level if you go to a school that has a gymnastics team…I’ve seen that happen often. And you never know, from there you might start taking on coaching duties and start working more on that side of things.
I love Larisa Iordache’s new floor choreo. Do you know who choreographed it?
I believe her choreographer is Corina Dorean, or at least that’s who choreographed her routines in the past. I loved her new routine…it’s a shame she didn’t get to compete it at worlds!
I am not a fan of the ‘do two different vaults to be in medal contention’ thing because almost no one does it. If there are so few gymnasts that do two vaults, that means there’s hardly any competition, so why don’t more do it?
Basically all of the strongest vaulters are doing two vaults, so if everyone was forced to do two vaults, the competition at the top really wouldn’t change much. I think gymnasts and their coaches realize what it takes to medal in a vault final, and so if they’re maxing out at a Yurchenko double for a single vault, adding a second vault wouldn’t really make them competitive for a medal unless that second vault happened to be a Cheng or a Rudi or something. And if their sole vault is a Yurchenko full, as most have? Forget it. So rather than train a second vault with no hope of getting in, the gymnasts who consider vault a strength can work on difficult vaults, whereas gymnasts who struggle on vault can focus on other things.
Which three teams do you think will be on the podium at worlds?
Next year I’m assuming? I think the U.S. and Russia should be on the podium pretty easily, though Russia with a mess of falls could struggle…and I feel like Japan will beat China, at least one year in the next few years, if not all of them. Though I always forget how tough the Chinese bars rotation will be, and that could save them even if they’re not quite as reliable on the other events as the Japanese are.
Given the crazy depth in the U.S. last quad, had they been able to send a second team to the Olympics, how well would they have done?
They would’ve been able to challenge for the silver or bronze. I did the math for it once and they would’ve scored somewhere in the neighborhood of where China and Russia scored, which is crazy to think about.
What is the maximum number of skills a gymnast can include in a routine?
Eight skills are counted into the D score, but a gymnast can perform basically as many skills as she can fit into the timing constraints of the routine. For gymnasts building beam difficulty based on a bunch of connections, they’re connecting tons of low-valued elements that come in with solid CV, and these routines have so many skills. Liu Tingting had 17 skills in some of her routines, many B skills that she’d just work into connections.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins
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