You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 201st 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 were the deductions Nastia Liukin received for her balance beam routine at Pac Rims in 2008?

I don’t know them exactly because we don’t have access to the E score breakdowns from the judges, but if I had to guess I’d say a tenth for the slight adjustment on the Onodi landing, and then a tenth for her twisted ankles on her dismount. If not the Onodi adjustment, maybe the positioning on the wolf jump, or the turn not being exact, but the dismount legs was definitely one of those tenths. God, that was a dream routine.

When was Amelia Hundley born?

God bless you for waiting at least five months for me to answer (that’s how backed up I am!) this when you could’ve just typed Amelia Hundley into google and had the answer instantaneously. :-p She was born January 21, 1998. I know because it was the first google result that popped up.

What happened with Courtney McCool in Athens? I get that she didn’t have a top three score in qualifications, but do you think it was right to not use her in team finals?

I think that’s something Martha Karolyi chose to do often…basing the finals situation on what happened in qualifications. Just last quad, she opted to not use Brenna Dowell on bars in finals after she had her rough prelims routine, and in Rio Gabby Douglas was originally expected to vault in the team final, but when Laurie Hernandez weirdly got a higher score, she opted to use Laurie instead. In a way, it makes sense…gymnasts scored a certain way at home might not get the same reaction internationally so even if they have hit routines in qualifications, if the judges favor other routines, they’ll probably favor those other routines in finals as well, so it makes sense that Martha would want to use the ones who were best-received. I think it sucks for the athlete who gets screwed, but I do see why the decision is made in most cases.

Do you think Cheng Fei would have won her two EF medals had the 2008 Olympic Games not been held in Beijing?

Hmm…vault, definitely not. I’m not sure about beam. Maybe? I feel like vault was the most blatant “well, we’re in Beijing, so just give it to her”…but I go back and forth about beam. She and Anna Pavlova both had mistakes, and while Fei’s were a bit more obvious, I think Anna had a lot more little things going wrong. Fei got it in Beijing but if the setting was changed and the Games were in Moscow Anna would’ve gotten it for sure. And if it were on neutral ground? It’s hard to say who would’ve come out on top. So it’s just one of those things where like, it was so close it could’ve gone either way, unlike vault where she absolutely should not have medaled.

Svetlana Khorkina hit the low bar with her feet while doing a giant on bars in the Atlanta final. Do you think she was deducted for it? Do you think she still deserved the gold?

She probably was, unless the judges didn’t see it. That happens more than they probably care to admit, as sometimes it’s kind of ambiguous up close? I’ve completely missed feet hitting the bar when watching live from a similar point of view, and other times I think I see/hear feet hitting and they don’t…so it’s kind of one of those things where they may not have noticed. I just went back and watched in real time and didn’t see it, and even going back and watching in slo-mo, I only KIND of saw the bar reverberate. I’d think it’s definitely possible that it went under the radar, in which case, had they NOT seen it, she definitely should’ve won the gold. But had they seen it and deducted for it, she probably wouldn’t have, so my guess is that they missed it.

You have to turn 16 within the current year to compete at the senior level, right? So how did Shawn Johnson get to compete at worlds in 2007 when she was born in 1992?

The FIG decided to allow girls who turned 16 in the Olympic year to compete as seniors at 2007 worlds because this would be their only chance to get major international experience prior to the Olympic Games. 

What is the format for worlds in 2018 and 2019? How many up, how many count?

There are five per team, four up and three count in qualifications (5-4-3), and team finals is three up three count (5-3-3).

Which country has your favorite program?

I love a lot of smaller programs where gymnasts are able to kind of shine based on what they can do as individuals rather than being forced to fit some kind of mold? As good as the U.S. is there’s very little about it stylistically that makes you like “now THIS is a U.S. routine” unlike Belgium or the Netherlands. In a way it becomes almost like a factory, churning out kids who can all do similar skills and like, yeah, they do them amazingly well and that factory aspect is why they’re number one, but stylistically they don’t really have the freedom to make their gymnastics truly individualistic for the most part, a few standouts aside (mostly thanks to their club gyms, not the national program). That’s the trade-off I think, but that’s why I can enjoy the U.S. program and other top programs for being so good while also enjoying other programs for standing out in other aspects. Belgium is definitely a favorite, and I also love the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Norway, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Slovenia, all of which stand out to me as programs that know how to really individualize their programs for the gymnasts rather than finding gymnasts who fit a certain mold.

Has anyone ever connected a Pak immediately into an inbar skill on the low bar?

Not that I can think of…there are quite a few who do a Pak to stalder or Pak to toe-on, so a Pak to inbar is definitely possible, but it’s definitely a lot harder to pull off which is probably why gymnasts do an easier skill out of the Pak even though it doesn’t get connection bonus whereas an inbar out of a Pak would get a tenth.

Do you think any gymnast has the physical stamina to do two floor or bar routines back to back?

Maybe if they had really low-level tumbling. Nica Hults’ little sister Sofia did her level 6 routine twice in a row last season because the judges loved it and wanted an encore (which is adorable), but obviously level 6 tumbling isn’t close to elite tumbling. I can’t imagine someone doing high-level tumbling could pull it off safely, but I could see someone getting through an NCAA-level routine twice without dying.

Can you compare what the final five’s routines would score now under the new code to the scores of the top gymnasts at this year’s nationals?

It’s hard to say because while it’s easy enough to take away the difficulty they’d no longer be getting (which would cut their total scores down by about two points each, or about five tenths per routine), many execution scores were vastly different this year at worlds so it’s hard to say how someone who got high beam E scores at the Olympics last year would’ve been received at worlds this year, just as an example. I do think the majority of the Final Five would’ve outscored this year’s top seniors if they had to go head to head, though. With the highest realistic international scores being in the 55-56 range, I could see Simone Biles somewhere around a 59 in comparison, and then Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez, and Gabby Douglas somewhere around a 57-58  if they were competing at last year’s strength.

Why are event finals at worlds and the Olympics the top eight? It seems a little random. Why not top ten?

I always wonder how they got to that number, and why finals tended to be multiples of eight (36 in the all-around final back in the day, 24 in the final now). I guess it makes sense for all-around and team competitions because with four events, they can split everyone up evenly that way, but for an event final it’s like…they could really have however many they wanted. It actually used to be six in event finals, which was really funny back in the Soviet domination days before two-per-country because literally entire finals would basically only have a full team of Soviet gymnasts. I’m guessing they added two more to increase diversity in the finals, so that’s probably why they made it eight, to make it consistent with team finals? But if that’s not the reasoning, I don’t know why they went to eight and not to a nice even ten.

Larisa Iordache got a 56.7 at Universiade with a fall on beam. Is the code the same? Is she on track for a high 57 at worlds if she hits?

The code at Universiade is the same as the code in every other elite competition this quad, but the scores at Universiade in general were a bit high everywhere, at least compared to worlds (small-program gymnasts with good days at Universiade got around a 51-52 and with similar days at worlds, they got around a 49-50). Based on how Larisa actually looked and based on how judges were scoring routines, I’d say a 56 would have been a good score for her on a good day at worlds, which would’ve put her at the top of the pack, somewhere in the neighborhood of what Ragan Smith and Mai Murakami would’ve scored on a good day.

We know Simone Biles is back in the gym, but who’s coaching her?

She’s being coached by Laurent Landi! Laurent and his wife/coaching partner Cecile left WOGA early this summer and happened to be on the hunt for new jobs at the same time that Simone was looking for a coach. Simone really loved working with Laurent in Glasgow and then again in Rio, and since their needs happened to align at the exact same time, it was basically kismet.

My friend is 13, has never competed before, and is roughly a level 3. She takes class once a week and is working on a back handspring. She says her goal is to do NCAA gymnastics at UCLA. Do you think it’s possible considering NCAA gymnasts are usually level 8 to elite by the time they’re 13?

I would say for 99.9999% of the gymnast population it’s probably not possible to go from a level 3 skill level at 13 to level 10 by 16-17, but there are always those freaks of nature who rise up super quickly in the sport. I can name several gymnasts who started gymnastics at age eight and were elite by age 12, but even that is quite different from starting at 13, since at eight you’re generally still young and pliable and ‘coachable’ enough. Never say never, but realistically she probably won’t reach a competitive enough level in time to be recruited for NCAA, let alone into a top program.

How do deductions for repeated skills work?

I believe if they made a mistake or balked the skill the first time around, they’d get those deductions for the issues with the skill as it happened the first time around, but if the skill is later repeated, it’s treated as a different skill and wouldn’t be judged based on what happened with the old skill. Say someone has a front aerial on beam, but they miss their footing going into it, stumble forward, and balk it, they’d get deducted for that slip and for that balk, but then they repeat the skill later and it’s literally perfect, they wouldn’t get any deductions for that attempt even though they’d still have the deductions from the first attempt. 

What is the difference between level 10 and J.O. gymnastics?

Level 10 is part of J.O. gymnastics. J.O., or Junior Olympic, is the club program in the U.S. that includes the pre-team levels 1-3, the compulsory levels 4-5, and the optional levels 6-10, with level 10 being the highest J.O. level (most NCAA gymnasts tend to be level 10s, though a few smaller D1-D2 programs as well as a good number of those in D3 programs tend to include level 9 as well).

If the U.S. had sent a team to Universiade, how do you think it would’ve stacked up against the international competition?

They definitely would’ve done very well and challenged for gold, especially if they sent a team of mostly former elites like Maggie Nichols, MyKayla Skinner, Kyla Ross, Madison Kocian, and so on. Most level 10 and NCAA gymnasts are competing at a similar skill level to middling elite programs. I’ve seen club gyms send a bunch of level 10s to international elite invitationals with their girls having zero elite experience, and they win these competitions pretty easily (e.g. the Turnkunst International competition in Germany last year, where the gold and silver team medals went to two different Region 7 All-Star teams from the U.S., these teams beating out a Dutch elite club team featuring gymnasts with years of international elite experience).

What is an aerial sequence on beam? Can a front tuck or pike be considered an aerial, or only a bhs + loso sequence, or when a gymnast connects two or more skills?

Are you thinking of a sequence of connected aerials? Or do you mean an acro series? The word ‘aerial’ refers to specific skills, the front aerial (also known as a hands-free front walkover or an aerial walkover) and the side aerial (also known as a hands-free cartwheel or an aerial cartwheel). You can connect two aerial skills (like Sanne Wevers with her side aerial to side aerial) and in that sense you’d be doing an ‘aerial sequence’ but I think what you’re thinking about is an acro series, which is when two or more acro skills (any tumbling element on beam) are connected. Acro skills include aerial skills, and they also include salto skills like tucks, pikes, and layouts, as well as roundoff and back handspring skills. Sometimes people refer to an acro series as a ‘flight series’ because the point of an acro series is to show flight in connecting the two skills, so you probably saw some term like that and assumed it was ‘aerial sequence’…that’s my guess!

Why does almost every U.S. gymnast do a wolf turn? Is it easier than other turns with the same value? Should they be devalued? What deductions do they get?

It’s one of those skills that has very few deductions, and so it’s like a top-down command from the national team staff to get clubs training wolf turns because it’s the easiest way to count high-valued dance elements that are practically deduction-free. There is no deduction in a wolf turn for how squatted the tuckstand must be, which is generally the biggest ‘fault’ for most of the wolf turns you see — those who do them and look like they’re practically standing. It’s okay to do that even though it shouldn’t be. The deductions are the same for other turns of the same value, but wolf turns are inherently easier because when you’re lower to the ground (or beam) it’s easier in terms of your center of gravity being lower.

So when you have a triple wolf turn worth an E and a triple pirouette worth an E, it makes so much more sense to go with the wolf turn because you’re WAY less likely to be wobbly and off-balance compared to a triple pirouette, which basically no one can do consistently enough to add to a routine. But the U.S. loves going after high-value skills, and since three dance elements are required to count into your eight skills on beam, you kind of need to figure out high-valued dance elements that work so you’re not counting E+ acro skills and then basic C dance skills. But since many struggle with the majority of the D and E dance elements, the wolf turns are the happy medium, getting big difficulty without as much of a risk.

Do you know why rhythmic gymnasts can use music with lyrics while artistic gymnasts can’t?

I think since rhythmic is really supposed to be more dance-oriented and focused on performance value, lyrics can definitely add to that, and they’re allowed to keep them in because it enhances the performance. Lyrics would add to the performance in artistic as well, but with artistic, there would be a problem with gymnasts using the lyrics as cues for certain skills, which would make routines more robotic and structured and end up taking away from the artistry, the opposite of what lyrics do in rhythmic, where routines are naturally more fluid and wouldn’t end up broken up by lyrical phrases because they don’t have to think about stopping to do a tumbling pass. I hope I’m explaining this in a way that makes sense? But yeah, lyrics definitely add to the emotion and artistry of a song, but in artistic gymnastics where floor routines have tumbling requirements that break up the dance and performance, lyrics would just exaggerate that awkwardness.

Would Jordan Chiles be in a better position to make it to worlds during a team competition year over someone like Jade Carey since she can contribute on every event?

It depends. On a four-person team like 2020, yeah, Jordan would make more sense than Jade, but if this year was a team year and they had the option of bringing five, Jade still would’ve made more sense than Jordan for that particular spot because they still have room for a specialist or two on a five-person team (three all-arounders and two specialists is ideal) and Jade would’ve added more value than Jordan because her routines were stronger. Had this been a five-person team year, I think the same four who went to Montreal still would’ve been on the team, and then someone like Jordan or Trinity Thomas would’ve been the fifth option, as another solid all-arounder to round out the two all-arounders and two specialists already involved.

Could you recommend five or so of your posts that make up a good jumping-off point for those of us who are new to gymnastics and are trying to figure it out through your YAGA columns?

I would say these are probably the best to help you out…

The Four-Year Fan Guide

Intro
Gymternet Glossary
Getting Technical
Vault
Bars
Beam

I can’t find the floor guide, but this should give you a good start! I also have some articles that deal with changes since I wrote the Four-Year Fan Guide, including Deconstructing the New Code of Points, which talks about all of the changes the code of points underwent between 2016 and 2017, and then Clearing Up the 2020 Confusion, which goes into the new qualification process for the Olympic Games beginning this quad as we go toward Tokyo.

I heard that Marvin Kimble was told he was not a good fit at the Olympic Training Center which is why he went back to Salto? Is that true, and why would that be?

I hadn’t heard that…but I do know of a few guys who weren’t good fits at the Olympic Training Center so that could be the case. I’ve heard that the OTC has a bit of an NCAA program feel, and so the guys who do NCAA end up loving the environment there, whereas the guys who weren’t part of NCAA teams are used to a more individual training environment and do better in clubs than at the OTC. It doesn’t mean they’re not ‘team players’ if they don’t fit in, but just that they’re more used to an individualized training situation and that’s the environment in which they thrive.

I’ve heard robot judging is going to be used in 2020. Do you think it’ll actually happen? When do you think it will be tested?

It’s definitely on the way, though judging won’t be entirely robotic. It’s basically a catch-all system that will help get rid of some human errors on things like handstand alignment on bars, distance on vault, and technical things like that which human eyes can sometimes misjudge. It’s pretty easy for a judge to see a slightly angled handstand as a 0.3 deduction one day and a 0.1 deduction the next because their eyes are just making guesstimates on the actual degree of the handstand. Having robots and lasers there to say “this handstand was exactly 35 degrees off” is great because it quantifies the mistake in a much more accurate way. Actual human judges will still be there to pick up on things robots can’t, like artistry and performance value, but I actually can’t wait to see how robots will fix SO many errors in judgment on the more technical aspects of competition.

I noticed Sydney Johnson-Scharpf had two floor routines for the different days of competition at U.S. nationals. How does that work out? Don’t the D scores differ a bit? Why is it allowed? Why would she do it?

She did pretty much nearly identical routines in terms of acro and dance elements, simply changing her choreography and music between the two performances to show off both sides of her personality with the fun and energetic kind of routine and then the dramatic and fierce one. But even if she had done entirely different acro and dance elements, it’s still okay because gymnasts don’t go to judges with their routines all planned out. Sometimes routines change (just ask Sanne Wevers and Aliya Mustafina if they’ve ever done an identical beam routine from one day to the next!) and it’s the judges’ jobs to watch the routine they’re seeing in the moment and rate the D score accordingly.

Often gymnasts will do easier routines in prelims and then bring their hard skills in finals, so you may see someone with a 5.0 one day and a 5.8 the next because there’s no rule that says gymnasts have to do the same routines. The same goes on floor, where there’s no rule that says the music and choreography has to be the same, and so Sydney opted to do two routines because she enjoys the performance aspect of gymnastics more than anything, and since she was limited in her skills training due to illnesses and injuries, she put her focus into creating new routines instead of training difficult skills. I think it was awesome and love that her being limited in one way didn’t stop her from still doing something cool at nationals.

Do walk-on members of NCAA teams have to buy their own leos/gear and pay for hotel rooms and travel? How does this get paid for, especially for a large team where only 12 are on scholarship? Is there a budget for the other members?

No, walk-ons are part of the team and get the same gear, and if they’re invited to travel as competing members or as alternates/exhibition gymnasts, they have their travel covered as well. Top-ranked programs have large budgets that cover far more than just the 12 scholarship gymnasts, which is why some gymnastics teams will have 20-something gymnasts, half of whom aren’t even competing, on the road with them on top of multiple coaches, volunteers, team managers, media teams, and so on. Other programs can barely afford to pay for the travel for the competitors, though, and in those cases, non-competing gymnasts usually end up staying home unless there’s extra room on the bus or whatever.

Do alternates for worlds always travel with the team? When can it be decided to substitute them or use them due to an injury?

It’s up to the federation. In the individual year, federations can bring an alternate along with them if they want, though I believe they’d have to work out training concerns on their own because the alternates wouldn’t be allowed to train in the arena or in the training gyms. Most countries don’t find it necessary to fund the travel and training for an alternate in an individual year because even if they end up losing someone, the alternate probably won’t be able to replicate what that gymnast was going to do. Like if Jade Carey got injured this year, Jordan Chiles wouldn’t have gone in and won two silver medals; based on nationals, she wouldn’t have made either final. Had Ragan Smith been injured before qualifications they maybe would’ve flown her in to compete all-around but really, in a non-team year most countries don’t find that having an alternate is worth it because unless she’s someone with a finals or medal ability, it’s hard to justify bringing them. In a team year, the alternate can sub in to help the team in finals, though, so it’s absolutely vital to have someone around in that case.

At the start of the year, it seemed like the field was pretty wide open for anyone with a halfway decent Amanar and a second vault to lock up a spot on the worlds team. Why didn’t more coaches go this route with their gymnasts?

Most gymnasts can’t suddenly become masters of an Amanar in addition to a really difficult second vault just because the team needs someone to do that. Many probably try, and I know Jordan Chiles was working on trying to add a difficult second vault, but based on the difficulty internationally this year, the gymnast definitely would’ve needed an Amanar and then at least a Lopez, tsuk double, or handspring full for her second vault if they wanted to legitimately challenge for a medal, and neither of these is exactly easy to learn and perfect. A lot of people say “all they need is a second vault!” as if it’s easy but let me tell you, it’s not, hahaha. Valeri Liukin was really smart to scout Jade Carey at J.O. nationals. He noticed her talent and potential, and asked her to work on higher-level vaults because he knew he needed someone to fill that role, and with no one on the elite team looking like they were going to get close, he reached into the endless pool of J.O. depth and found exactly what he needed — someone who had experience doing both difficult Yurchenko vaults and non-Yurchenko family vaults. It was a shot in the dark, and when it worked out, it was proof of how great he could be at his job.

Aside from the U.S., China, Russia, and Great Britain, which countries are in the running for team medals this quad?

Japan for sure. They’re on a fast rise and will hopefully be a medal threat in the coming years if they stay healthy. I also love Germany right now, and while I think they’re on the outskirts and aren’t quite at the level of Japan or Great Britain, they could get close…though their overall lack of depth could take them from a top five team one year to a “will they make team finals?” team the next if anyone’s out with an injury.

Any idea where U.S. nationals will be next year?

I’ve heard lots of Boston rumors, which would make sense, as national congress is in Providence, which is close and would make sense for people who want to go to both back to back or however that’s going to work. As a Boston girl, I’m super into this.

How do gymnasts maintain their diets when they travel to national and international meets? Do they bring a chef or make arrangements with the hotel to have specific food prepared?

Most large-scale international competitions like worlds and the Olympics (and actually many smaller-scale competitions as well!) have food options for the athletes that follow the basic guidelines they’d be following at home. They definitely don’t bring a chef with them, though some might research the hotels and restaurants in advance for competitions that don’t serve food to the athletes. I know when meets are in really foreign places, like the U.S. girls traveling to Asia and vice versa, it can be hard to figure out how to stick to what they’re used to eating, though usually they find substitutes pretty easily and it’s never really a major issue. The only time I’ve heard of anything going wrong was when Commonwealth Games were in India one year and many of the English athletes — including some of the gymnasts — were struck with “Delhi belly” when eating foods their digestive systems weren’t used to, so it’s definitely a concern at times.

I noticed some gymnasts pike their hips before a Pak. Is this a deduction?

Yeah, usually about a tenth or so from the examples of this I’ve seen.

Would every punch front somersault out of a pass on floor count to fulfill the front tumbling requirement? Would a triple full to punch front count, or does it only count if a gymnast comes in with a forward landing?

Yes, simple front skills punched out of backward tumbling elements do fulfill the front tumbling requirement. A punch front out of a triple would count just as a punch front out of a 2½ would count.

Is there any info yet for Pan Am Championships in 2018?

Not publicly, no, but I believe they’re somewhere in South America next year from what I’ve heard? I forgot the details but basically PAGU is the worst organization in the gymnastics world and finding out information/following Pan Ams this year was almost impossible, so I’m sure next year everything will be a mystery until some federation finally posts the information.

What is Alexei Bondarenko doing now?

I haven’t heard anything about him since he attempted to make a comeback about…eight or so years ago? I think he is around 40 now, or close to it, but I’m not sure if he’s coaching or what…I don’t know if he’s on social media and I haven’t heard anything about him at all after he stopped training.

Is Peng Peng Lee still going to be competing for UCLA this season? From her Instagram, it doesn’t look like she has been training at UCLA though the rest of the team is all back.

That’s the plan! She’s been training this semester, is on the roster, is in all of the press photos, and she was at the intrasquad in a leo (though didn’t exhibition there because she’s trying to save her knee), so if she’s healthy, she’ll definitely be out on the floor in the 2018 season.

How many things that young gymnasts do today that could affect their NCAA eligibility?

They’re all walking a fine line when they accept free products to advertise on Instagram, or take money from advertisers for YouTube videos, but there are some loopholes now within NCAA that will allow for gymnasts (and athletes in other sports) to have popular social media channels without ruining their eligibility. Most coaches would tell their kids to err on the side of caution, though, because the line between what’s okay and what isn’t is VERY thin and they could be breaking eligibility rules without even knowing it by accepting some of the things they receive through these endeavors.

How are rooms and roommates decided at national team camps?

It’s determined by the national team staff, and while some of it is personality-based (I know Aly Raisman always liked rooming with people with similar nap schedules, or at least those who would be quiet enough to let her sleep), a lot of it is just random. I think they try to stick older gymnasts with each other so you don’t have a 22-year-old rooming with a 13-year-old, but beyond that I’d say the majority is just random, though those who have been doing it a little longer and who have certain preferences might get put in situations that are worked out in advance.

What happened to Heaven Latimer of Canada?

God, her story is so sad. After an awesome and super promising start to her junior career, Heaven was injured in her final year at that level, changed gyms, and had to delay her senior debut by a year, returning on two events at Elite Canada in 2015 but not competing at a high enough level to make finals. During that time, her mom was battling cancer, so on top of injuries Heaven had a lot going on personally and she was no longer able to continue training. Last year, her mom passed away, leaving Heaven on her own at 18. I believe Heaven was coaching at Gemini last time I checked.

Why are floor scores so much lower this quad, aside from the new COP?

With most of last quad’s top floor gymnasts either not back in the sport yet or competing downgraded routines for the time being (likely to save their ankles and knees for the upcoming years), the difficulty levels on floor are much lower simply because gymnasts just aren’t doing skills that are as difficult. It’s the same thing we see in every first year of a quad, because with so many gymnasts looking toward the Olympics three years down the line, no one wants to be doing full floor difficulty and potentially risking injury. We still had a few pretty difficult routines, like Mai Murakami’s, Sae Miyakawa’s, Jade Carey’s, and a few others, but yeah, most gymnasts are like hi, see you in 2019 or 2020, I’m not going to destroy my body for 2017 worlds.

Will there still only be a two-per-country rule this quad? Or will it be one-per-country since it’s smaller teams?

Yes, there is still a two-per-country rule this quad.

Has Andrea Li expressed that she doesn’t want to do elite?

Yeah. Elite isn’t for everyone, and so while she definitely has the talent, there’s a lot more than that going into the decision to not do elite gymnastics. Having seen her sister go through it twice, and training at a gym that has produced and trained several elites over the past couple of quads, she’s probably seen enough to realize that she’d be happier in level 10.

Are there two individual spots in addition to the four team spots for worlds or is that just for the Olympics?

That’s just for the Olympics. Worlds actually has five team spots, not four, but no individual spots.

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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27 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Has anyone ever connected a Pak immediately into an inbar skill on the low bar?

    – yes, anyone who has done a Pak + Komova l/ll transition 🙂

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  2. It’s nuts that with all their dominance the final five would top most the competition at 2017 nationals. I guess with the exception of Ragan? depending on how everyone performed I think she would have been closer to that top group than she was last year (mainly Gabby and Laurie I guess). But obvi no one would be close to Simone.

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    • Yeah, I was thinking about how Ragan improved slightly from 2016 in some aspects, but still wouldn’t be at the same level as like, Aly or Laurie or obviously Simone as they were in 2016, so if those three were competing at full strength this year, they’d still be dominating the AA with Ragan around fourth-best instead of first. None of the young seniors who competed this year are really at full strength, though, and even Simone in 2013 was way different from the Simone we saw in 2015 and later, so I think we can expect several of this year’s seniors grow a bit stronger and maybe by 2020 they’ll challenge the girls who dominated in 2016. I always think of MyKayla Skinner at 16 (hot mess disaster city) vs MyKayla Skinner at 20 (literally scoring 5+ points higher), Aly at 15 vs Aly at 18, Asac at 16 vs Asac at 20…some girls just get better with age, so some of the 16-year-olds this year will definitely surprise us with what they can do down the line!

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      • Yeah with ragan I don’t really think she would have moved up in ranking from last but just closer to take advanatage of a misstake. And Oh yeah I want to see who makes a big move because when you look back and look at who was at the top one year to the next is often very different! I’m sure that in 2019 we will have worlds contenders we haven’t really even heard of yet and 2020 well who knows.

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  3. I heard a commenter on a rhythmic event I was watching (maybe 2015 worlds?) say that they started allowing them to use lyrics in the hopes that the use of poppier songs in routines would attract more fans. Since the sport isn’t too popular outside of Eastern Europe.

    As for the US being a factory and that’s why there isn’t a distinctive style, I think that’s part of it. Yet, people talk about Russian bars, Chinese bars, Romanian beam and they’ve all had their years of being top programs with lots of depth that could churn out gymnast after gymnast. I think there isn’t as much of a US style of gymnastics because the program started to ascend not by building from within but from poaching coaches and choreographers from Russia and Romania. In particular, the Karolyi influence is all over everything. It’s kind of a microcosm of the country in general in that it’s more of a melting pot than a single distinct culture.

    If that makes sense?

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      • If I remember correctly, you didn’t post it? I remember visiting the website and seeing the posts about VT, UB, and BB, but floor never came up. I wondered why, but didn’t want to bother you with that. Since the Olympics started basically when you posted the beam guide, I thought you had dropped the floor one. Anyways, those were fantastic!

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        • Hmmm, I think it was a scheduled post so maybe it never posted? I must have a draft of it somewhere. I’ll have to search for it, I know I wrote it!

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  4. The Netherlands program??? Really? One day I will write to you about it, full of cruelty, nepotism … just terrible. Some gymnasts wrote a book about some dutch coaches and you have to have stomach to read it. And that abusive methodes are not gone, they are still around in gyms pver there.
    Belgium heritaded abusive coaches from Holland and France… honestly, they are not good programs. Technically, it doesn’t respect maturity of gymnasts. It is just awful. Have a look here: https://www.google.nl/amp/s/gymnasticscoaching.com/2013/07/13/new-book-dutch-gymnastics-abuse/amp/
    It is a pitty that there is no translation for the book.

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    • …I think it’s pretty clear that I’m talking about liking programs for their stylistic aspects, not for their training aspects or how they’re run?? Pretty much every program I mentioned is problematic in some way, as is the U.S. program. But I’m not listing programs based on how good or unproblematic the system is, I’m talking about my favorite programs in terms of the quality of how well routines fit gymnasts. There’s no program I can think of that hasn’t had either abusive methods or has covered up abuse or employs coaches who shouldn’t be coaching, and so on. If I had to pick from the unproblematic training programs in the world there would be almost none to choose from, which is why I chose to talk about the stylistic aspects of programs.

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      • Yeah, I was about to say exactly the same thing. Abusive coaching just goes with the territory in gymnastics, sadly. I think any gymnast from any country would have a few horror stories for their autobiography.

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  5. For the 13 year old who just started, once a week isn’t going to come close to cutting it. If she really wants to be on a collegiate team she would need to start training right now, for at least 6-7 hours a day, 6-7 days a week, and even then she would need to be one of those super fast learners. And after all that I would only expect her to really challenge for a division 2 or 3 School, but definitely not a big division 1 School like UCLA, regardless on a scholarship if that’s what she’s looking for.

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    • Scholarships are very limited in DII and nonexistent in DIII from my understanding. So while it is possible for her to reach the level that would get her recruited or considered as a walk-on, it seems like a very risky gamble. I think that they look for competition experience as well since the collegiate level competes nearly every week. It could be a worry since she’s a late start and only training once a week it doesn’t seem that she is going to be competing. But that’s just my take.

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    • I know…who trains once a week? I was training 10+ hours a week as a 9-year-old without any ambitions of really doing anything big in gymnastics. While I was put into the development squad and doing heavy conditioning, I felt like I’d gone into the sport too late to have a realistic chance of competing with my peers, and I felt like that at 9. A 13-year-old level 3 training once a week? No chance of it being anything more than a hobby.

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      • Hell, I was a Level 4/5 at 13 training once a week (well, and I also had a tumbling class) and I was very aware that even JO competition was probably out of reach for me, let alone anything else. Fortunately, I wasn’t interested in competition and just wanted to do rec gym. I wound up dropping it a couple years later when I got run over by the puberty truck, and started doing horseback riding more seriously instead.

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        • I think a lot of people seriously underestimate how much work and dedication goes into gymnastics. My coach’s
          teenage daughter was training 30+ hours a week for years, never had time for homework or a social life and she still never really got further than regional competitions. It’s hilarious that a 13-year-old Level 3 training once a week thinks they can make UCLA. I mean, I’m all for dreaming big but at a minimum you need to put the work in!

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  6. Btw, thank you Lauren for this series. I know you must get a million questions, including a bunch that could be answered with a simple google search so thanks for taking the time to answer them all anyway.

    On the topic of lyrics in routine music, I could see how it might get repetitive to have 4 routines without any words in RG and why they definitely should be able to switch it up. I remember reading somewhere that part of the reason they don’t allow words in AG is because of some copyright issue during broadcasting? Does anyone know why that could be or if it even would be an issue?

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    • Even with non-lyrical music there’s still an issue with copyright, and the SEC network actually tells its broadcasters to talk through floor routines so they won’t get in trouble if they air something! I just read in the comments that in RG they wanted to use more popular music with lyrics to get more fans interested, so that makes sense to me. I do think music with lyrics is more appropriate for RG than AG either way, though, because with AG the sequence of a routine has to be so exact, I could see how some of the musical phrasing in a song with lyrics can break that up. I’m sure some gymnasts would do great things with it, but for the most part it wouldn’t be all that beneficial.

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    • Hahahaha I’m dying. I have someone who inputs my questions into a spreadsheet for me so I can answer them in batches and when I finally got to that one literally half a year after it was asked, I was like oh god bless this soul, it took longer to physically type out and send that question than it would have to just type her name into google, and then to wait another six months on top of that for the answer?! My LORD, to have that patience.

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  7. If Yulia Lozhecko had landed her Patterson in the 2007 world prelims, is it likely that she replaces grebenkova on the Beijing team as she wouldnt have according to valentina “mental issues)” and Russia wins bronze over the Romanians as she probably would have hit beam in the TF?

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  8. What about Italy? If the current group of talented juniors manage to stay healthy, don’t you think they could also be a medal threat in 2019 or 2020?

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    • A medal threat, I don’t know…they will be able to help the team considerably, but I don’t know if I’d put them as a medal threat based on what I’ve seen already. But they obviously still have years to get even better and by 2019 or 2020 they could be medal threats! Just not based on what I’ve seen so far.

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