You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


It’s time for the 203rd 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.

When did Elisabeth Seitz remove the ‘Seitz’ from her bars routine?

She was having trouble with it and I think nearly as soon as she got it named she was like “goodbyeeee!” I recall her saying something about how with it being worth an E but being so much more difficult than other E skills, she would rather just do something simpler and not have the risk (and the deductions) that came with the Seitz. The last time I remember seeing it was at worlds in 2011, though she kept the Def through 2012.

Why is it that so many gymnastics videos on YouTube come from that TV channel from Brazil? They seem to air every single world cup even when no Brazilians are competing.

Quite a few countries have deals with the FIG to broadcast all of the world cups, whether on television or through the federation. The Italian federation did this at one time, and now the USA Gymnastics YouTube channel live streams one of the television broadcasts even when there aren’t U.S. competitors. I think it’s cool!

The beam timing buzzer in Paris was terrifying. Could a gymnast have complained if that had caused her to fall?

It was so annoying! I think they do get used to it, though, and most barely even hear the actual bell that signals they have ten seconds left, so hopefully they just were able to drown it out…but I’d imagine if there was something like that causing a ton of problems they could just let the organizers know and have them make changes if enough people were struggling. At the world cup in Baku the lights were so dark, many gymnasts couldn’t see the bars, so by the second day of competition enough people had complained that they were able to get the lights turned on.

Could you explain the rules for having at least one female coach on the floor during team competition? Is this an FIG or USA Gym rule? Has the policy changed at all due to the Safe Sport initiative?

It’s an FIG rule, so unrelated to USA Gymnastics. I haven’t heard of really any FIG rules or anything from the international governing body that have changed as a result of everything happening with Larry Nassar, slash the FIG has actually stayed relatively quiet about it which is bizarre given that the U.S. is basically the star program of the sport. I’m assuming/hoping we’ll see more enforcement of local policies for the protection of kids, because the U.S. had Nassar but many other programs have terribly abusive training environments as well.

How do you think Jordan Chiles’ wolf turn on day two of nationals was scored as far as the D score?

She got credit for a single wolf turn into a triple turn. It is the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life.

Do you think Brenna Dowell was named to the 2015 worlds team over MyKayla Skinner because she had a skill on floor that would be named for her?

No, I think Brenna looked better in training and they were hoping she would contribute a big score on bars in addition to maybe making that final. MyKayla was struggling a little bit on vault at that point, and Brenna’s floor was looking cleaner in training, so she got the spot simply because she was looking a bit better in comparison.

Are there, or have there ever been, French-speaking Canadian elite gymnasts at the national or world level?

Yes! Many. The Woo sisters, Victoria and Rose, are both French Canadian members of world and Olympic teams, and there are plenty of gyms in Quebec with elite-level gymnasts competing at the national level.

I’ve heard that MG Elite athletes ‘burn out’ quickly. Is that true, and if so, why/how?

I haven’t seen anything up close and personal, but while I thought it was cool to see Laurie Hernandez go from basically last at nationals one year to second the next, and then the year after that seeing Jazzy Foberg go from not making nationals to winning the title within a year, I later was like why on earth are they getting that much difficulty all at once?! That’s REALLY hard to deal with mentally as well as physically, and while it might be okay for a little while, it’s not a good strategy for the long haul, and eventually the gymnasts get injured or just burn out mentally and/or physically.

When Riley McCusker showed up at American Cup with a million new skills this year I was like here we go again, but unlike Laurie and Jazzy, Riley was just so mentally unable to handle that big burst of new skills, and she really struggled with everything given to her at once. That was the first time I really thought about how crazy that whole system is, especially when you see girls like Simone Biles with the greatest difficulty in the world upgrading a few skills at a time so that they can kind of ease their way into their high difficulty. Simone probably could’ve added a Cheng a year or two before she ended up doing it, but why bother? She didn’t need a Cheng in 2014 or 2015. She added it when she needed it to win the Olympic gold, she ended up being incredible at it, and she didn’t destroy her body in the process. It’s a much safer way to train for the long haul, whereas MG Elite has girls for a couple of seasons at a high level, but not longer than that.

What exactly goes on at a worlds selection camp?

They basically just have a mini competition at the ranch, with everything the same as it would be in an actual competition, minus a crowd there watching. They have verification competitions before every team selection, like Jesolo and American Cup in addition to worlds, and generally the competitions require what the national team staff would expect to see in that international competition so they can choose the gymnasts who look best at that moment, which is why you sometimes see gymnasts who don’t look that great at nationals end up making teams.

Is there a tucked Tkachev or tucked Jaeger salto? Wouldn’t it be easier to transition to the pike through a tuck instead of the straddle?

I don’t believe there’s a tucked Tkachev in the code right now (or I can’t find it if there is), but the tucked Jaeger is in the code and is rated a C. I don’t think learning the straddle of either is because it’s meant to be a transition skill to a more difficult pike, but rather it’s simply a position the skill can be done in that’s harder than the tucked variations. As a D skill for both the Tkachev and Jaeger, gymnasts would rather do that than the lower-valued tucked Tkachev. Also, in going back and thinking about going from a tuck to a pike as a natural progression, I actually think a straddle to a pike might be easier given the leg shape/form. A straddle is basically a pike with legs apart, whereas a tuck to a pike sees the leg positioning change completely, going from bent legs to straight.

How was Sophina DeJesus allowed to compete in NCAA if she received compensation from being on TV shows as a child?

Her acting/dance career as a child had nothing to do with gymnastics. It was basically a job for her, just in the way working at McDonalds would be a job. Athletes who have jobs — whether in food service or entertainment or any other industry outside of their sport — as children or in high school don’t have their NCAA eligibility affected by their jobs because they have zero connection to their sport. A gymnast can be a professional actor and remain an amateur gymnast just like a football player can have an after school job at the mall and remain an amateur football player. The only thing that breaks eligibility is when athletes become professional athletes, e.g. using their name and what they’re doing as athletes to earn money, which Sophina didn’t do as a child on television.

If a gymnast is unable to accept prize money because of NCAA reasons, is the money given out at all, or does USAG accept it on the gymnast’s behalf?

I believe the federation can accept it on behalf of the gymnast and put it in a trust…or at least that’s what some federations have done when the gymnast was unable to accept.

Do you think MyKayla Skinner will make a move to return to elite?

I think she low-key wants to but also kind of feels burned by USA Gymnastics for not making a few past teams this quad, and doesn’t want to go through the whole process again just to get turned down for a team. I heard that after the NCAA season the women’s program asked MyKayla to come to two of the camps but she decided not to go, which I found interesting because I had originally heard that she really wanted to come back. I think experiencing college, though, especially when you have such a great experience in the way MyKayla did in her freshman year, really makes gymnasts realize how much fun the sport can be compared to elite, so I can see why she might have changed her mind about coming back. It’d be cool to see her make another run in the future though.

Have the girls that do a two-foot layout changed their skill based on the judging last quad?

Not really! Everyone I can think of is still doing one…which is so confusing to me. Do they just not realize they’re getting it downgraded and that it’s basically pointless to even bother?! Or are they really hoping that some judges won’t mind and will just give it to them? A mystery of the universe.

Is there a deduction for repeating skills? Would the judges just decide to count whichever is first?

If a skill is done twice, the first skill is counted into the D score, but the second time it’s done, it would still receive deductions. Some skills are done twice intentionally, like Sanne Wevers with her side aerial to side aerial, or anyone who does a bhs+loso+loso series, and while only the first is counted as a skill, both have to be done well because they’re both judged.

Why are Florida’s freshmen bios all given the same major, which then gets updated in their sophomore years?

I think they all just choose something like a ‘general studies’ major or whatever Florida calls it, which is basically the same as saying ‘undeclared’ and then it’s updated when they actually declare a major.

Is it normal for the developmental camps to be held at LSU? Or is this due to the recent backout of USA Gymnastics from the Karolyi Ranch? Are they investigating new sites?

I think it was actually related to the flooding from the hurricane…normally all of the developmental camps are held at the ranch, and they have been since then, but since the ranch is in the Houston area and could’ve been affected by the flooding, they opted to just have it at LSU.

Who has the current highest difficulty on each event?

This year, on vault, it was anyone with a Cheng (so Maria Paseka, Shallon Olsen, and Chinese junior Yu Linmin), Fan Yilin and Gabby Perea both have a 6.5 when they hit everything on bars, Larisa Iordache was credited with a 6.7 on beam at the Paris Challenge Cup, and on floor, it’s Sae Miyakawa with a 6.2.

Can you get deductions for your choreography on floor?

Yes, they would be considered artistry deductions, which cover both choreography (or what the gymnast is doing) as well as expression (or how the gymnast is doing it).

What’s the difference between the Healy and the Ling?

The Healy begins in reverse grip and finishes in L grip while the Ling begins in L grip, hops through to reverse grip, and finishes in L grip. The Ling and the Ono, which begins in L and finishes in reverse, are the same thing in the code of points and people use Ono and Ling interchangeably but there is that slight difference to them.

What happened to Anastasia Grishina? I saw some comments saying that her mom is a terrible person…what did she do?

I’m glad I’m just coming across this question now because there was just a recent development. Basically, Anastasia’s mother pretty much stole the money she earned from doing gymnastics as well as took over some of the properties/cars Anastasia was given as gifts for her service to the sport. Anastasia, her husband, and their infant son were homeless for some time, and then were living in a motel, but she sued her mother and got back two small pieces of property, though her mother got to keep one of the Moscow apartments as well as the country home and the car, and her mother didn’t have to pay back any of the money she stole, but Grishina didn’t care about any of that — she just wanted a place to live with her family.

What happened to women’s Ukrainian gymnastics? Do you think they will be competitive this quad?

They’ve actually been on the rise and now have quite the team coming up! They could definitely be competitive in terms of contending as a full team going to Tokyo, though being competitive as medalists probably won’t happen just yet. With Diana Varinska leading the way as well as Angelina Kysla sticking around on top of newcomers like Valeriia Iarmolenko, Valeriia Osipova, and a few current juniors (like Anastasiia Bachynska), they could really end up taking one of the full team spots in 2020.

Do J.O. gymnasts get national team leos as well? I noticed Lauren Navarro had one.

Lauren was on the elite national team at one point, so it could be part of her national team leo kit…normally J.O. gymnasts don’t get national team leos even if they’re on the J.O. national team, though I do believe they get some kind of leo recognizing their J.O. national team status (which is basically just an honor, not a legit team that goes around competing).

What’s your favorite routine on each apparatus?

I’ll just go with current routines because my brain doesn’t work in terms of going back multiple years and I’ll inevitably leave someone out and have someone sassy in the comments being like “you like HER over HER?” all smug. Trust, it always happens. So this year, vault…I have to go with Giulia Steingruber’s Rudi, specifically her Rudi from worlds qualifications, aka her first time doing it since Rio. It blew my mind. Bars is Nina Derwael. Beam is Liu Tingting, Li Qi, or Victoria Nguyen. Floor is Brooklyn Moors and Morgan Hurd.

How do judges tell if a skill is connected on bars?

Skills on bars are connected if they don’t have intermediate skills like kip cast handstands linking them.

Why do so many gymnasts fall out of their turns on floor? What is the deduction for that? Do they not practice them enough?

I think it’s just because they rush them and aren’t fully centered/balanced while attempting turns that are difficult for them…they also don’t spot turns, which is weird to me as someone who grew up dancing. Whenever I see a gymnast doing a pirouette it kind of just looks like she’s hoping for the best and going with the flow rather than actively spotting a turn to ensure that it finishes correctly, haha. They definitely practice them enough but yeah, it’s hard to have control and balance when you’re not spotting, at least to me. I would certainly fall over doing a turn without spotting because you just lose your sense of awareness.

If you could have Sydney Johnson-Scharpf compete internationally for another country, what country’s team do you think she would fit the best?

Hmmmm…for some reason Germany popped into my head? Mostly because they do some cool stuff on floor choreography-wise but don’t necessarily have solid tumblers, so she could help them out there, and she could also add a DTY on vault when she’s at full health (which she wasn’t this summer, thus sticking to the full, though she did her double at the Reykjavik meet early this year). Also Scharpf sounds kind of German now that I’m realizing it, which is probably why I thought of Germany first, lol. But it worked out!!

What type of injury was Riley McCusker dealing with that caused her to withdraw from the world selection camp?

All I heard officially was “injury” which is kind of ambiguous. On the downlow I’ve heard stress fracture from some and someone else said it was a serious hip injury, so I don’t know. She and her coach haven’t really gone into detail so I’m guessing it’s something they want to keep under the radar.

Why does the front handspring 1½ vault have two different names? People call it a Rudi and a Chusovitina.

The term Rudi refers to any front 1½ whether it’s the handspring 1½ on vault, a front 1½ off beam, or a front 1½ on floor. But officially, the vault is named for Oksana Chusovitina because she was the first woman to compete it at a meet where she could get it named. Most still refer to it as a Rudi because it’s the skill name that’s easier to recognize, but I believe she got it named at worlds in 2002 so it’s technically her skill. Though Oksana was the first to have it eligible to be named, I think Vanessa Atler was the first woman to actually compete it, back in 1999, though she never got the chance to get it named for her so our girl Oksana went for it and bam.

What do you think about the Italian juniors? Could they win medals at worlds in 2019 or the Olympics in 2020?

I’m obsessed with them. Based on how they look now, they still need a bit of work before they can start getting medals at worlds or the Olympics, though I could see Giorgia Villa stepping up as an all-around medalist. But they’re only 14 right now, and have a lot of time to get to a point where they’d be likely medal candidates. I love Elisa Iorio’s bars, and really want her to clean up a bit and add a little more to her difficulty so she can become a medal hopeful on that event.

Is there one or two meets that stands out to you as having the most charged/tense atmosphere from the crowd, being there in person?

Olympic Trials in 2012 (it was also good in 2016 but for some reason 2012 stands out to me a bit more as being literally crazy) and then Euros this year (which was in Romania and so whenever a Romanian gymnast went up the arena lost their freaking minds). I’m sure most international events are super crazy for the home kids, and Montreal definitely went nuts this year, especially for Ellie Black and Brooklyn Moors, but Romania was just intense because their fans are so insane, in a good healthy crazy way.

Can the roundoff and back handspring get deductions in a floor tumbling pass?

Yeah, most at the elite level are doing them in a way where they won’t get deducted and I feel like most judges would only half-pay attention to those skills, but I’ve definitely seen a few that were questionable that stood out to me as something I would’ve noticed and deducted for as a judge.

Why were Chen Yile and Liu Tingting competing against each other at Chinese nationals if Yile is still a junior?

China doesn’t separate its national championships between junior and senior divisions, probably because there is a team aspect and each province would be much weaker without help from both divisions of gymnasts. Pretty much any domestic meet in China will keep juniors and seniors together, which is kind of cool because you can see how everyone matches up without having to be like “did the junior division get scored more strict or more loose than the senior division?” like you do with other countries, which makes it easier to compare the levels of talent.

Why do the U.S. girls only have one coach on the floor with them at all-around or event finals?

They can only get one personal coach credentialed at worlds, so someone you usually see with two coaches (like the Texas Dreams girls with both Kim Zmeskal and Chris Burdette at nationals) will only bring their head coach to worlds (Kim is considered that person for Texas Dreams). Because that person is their personal coach, that’s who they want out on the floor with them at individual aspects of the competition, though in team competition they work with other coaches who are part of that year’s team, like anyone on bars in Rio having Laurent Landi spot them since he was assigned to bars during the team competition, and so on.

Just considering the U.S. championships, is Kim Zmeskal the first champion to coach a champion?

Yes, she is! Definitely cool to see it happen.

What’s the deal with not being allowed to do the same skill twice in a routine and get credit, but half the elites do the front aerial to front aerial or bhs loso loso on beam? Can you explain why the rule doesn’t apply here?

Even though you can’t get credit for the same skill twice, you can still use the same skill multiple times to get connection bonus. A front aerial to front aerial gets a 0.2 connection bonus, and bhs loso loso gets a series bonus of 0.1 on top of the 0.1 for the C+C for a total of 0.2. Even though only the top eight skills count for difficulty on beam, you will sometimes see 12+ skills in a beam routine because skills get repeated for the purpose of gaining connection value, which is also why lower-valued skills are used despite not being credited into the total difficulty of the routine.

Why do you think some skills are generally referred to by the gymnast and others go by their technical name?

Funny, I was just thinking about this. I generally try to use the gymnast’s name because when I live blog, they’re shorter than writing out and describing the full skill. Like, saying Tweddle on bars is so much easier than typing toe-on Tkachev with a half twist and saying Biles on floor is easier than typing double layout half-out. And then if a gymnast’s name tends to be longer than the skill, or if the skill is more recognizable by its description than by its name, I’ll say the skill, like Rudi instead of Chusovitina on vault because Rudi is quicker to type, or stalder full, because no one would know what I was talking about if I said Frederick (for some reason no one refers to pirouetting skills on bars by the name of the gymnasts who originated them). Often I go back and forth, especially if I’m trying to explain something and find it easier to just say what the skill is rather than use the gymnast’s name, but for me it’s literally mostly a time-saver when typing through routines that are happening live in front of me. I feel like if I had to type out “backwards swing with a half turn and straddle flight over the high bar” for a Khorkina, I’d miss about three skills after it from typing for so long!

Why didn’t Larisa Iordache get a nominative spot at the Olympics if she had won all-around bronze in 2015?

Only the event medalists at 2015 worlds were eligible for automatic Olympic spots, not all-around medalists. A silly rule, to be honest, but I think the assumption was that the all-around medalist at worlds one year would either be part of a full team going to the Olympics or would earn an individual all-around Olympic test event qualifications spot where she’d easily get in, whereas event specialists literally only have those automatic event medal spots to get in. But because Romania was in such a bizarre position with not qualifying a full team and then having options for the individual spot, Larisa kind of got screwed out of a spot.

If a gymnast is trying to perform a new element and she falls, but performs it again in the same routine and hits it, could she get her name in the code?

Yup! Mikhail Koudinov did that this year at worlds with his gaylord full, which he missed twice before finally catching it thanks to the crowd egging him on and getting him to keep trying. The FIG announced this month that it was one of seven new MAG skills added to the code of points, and that it would be named for Mikhail.

Why did you worry that Riley McCusker might be injury prone?

Just because she’s adding too many skills all at the same time when she’s not quite ready for some of them, and the way she trains in podium training can get a bit scary at times, which gets worrisome when you think about how she must train in the gym. I’ve seen more than my fair share of her scary falls, so I just worry that she’s going to get badly injured because of the way she trains and how much difficulty she’s training and competing. Given that she’s had at least three injuries this year alone, I don’t think my worries are all that off-base.

Why do gymnasts let their FIG licenses expire?

Honestly, most probably just forget to renew them. Some federations have great administrative employees who are on top of these things, but most have the gymnasts and their coaches in charge, and it sometimes slips their minds. Also, if a gymnast hasn’t competed internationally in a while, they probably just let them expire without renewing because they probably aren’t competing anytime soon, and if they do need to compete internationally, it’s easy and quick enough to request a license.

I always notice that gymnasts often do a stag jump out of an arabian. Why a stag jump and not a sissone or something? Is it a trend? Do they get more value?

It’s an A skill like most simple jumps but it could just be personal preference, like how it looks or feels coming out of the arabian. With the front leg bent down, it’s easier to reach the correct stag position than it is to reach the fully extended split in a split jump or sissone, so it’s probably a little easier to do out of a difficult tumbling line where you’re going to be a bit tired and out of breath.

What happens to the prize money for competitions like the American Cup if a non-pro athlete wins?

They can go to the federation or into a trust for the gymnast.

Do you think Madison Kocian will be back in lineups for NCAA this season?

From what I’ve heard, I don’t think so, because they want to let her shoulder heal after surgery, but I think the hope is that she can at least come back for the end of the season or postseason. It’ll all depend on how she’s feeling, though. They definitely don’t want to throw her out there too soon and then have her injured even more than she already was.

Do you think the WAG deduction for hitting feet on the low bar should be waived seeing as how it can only be applied selectively to athletes who are tall enough to make it possible?

I don’t think so…it does suck that taller gymnasts have something extra to watch out for, but they also have advantages on bars that shorter gymnasts don’t have. I’ve seen many a tiny gymnast miss easy skills like toe shoots and shaposhnikovas because they can’t make it that far from one bar to the next. As with most things in gymnastics, there are going to be certain types of gymnasts that have advantages in one area and weaknesses in others, and vice versa.

What is the conflict of interest with Nastia and Valeri Liukin?

I think people are concerned that with Valeri the national team coordinator and his daughter a member of the media covering the sport her father basically leads, it’s easier to kind of spread ‘propaganda’ type coverage because with their connection, and Nastia’s connection to USA Gymnastics in general, they can kind of control the story and the coverage whereas in journalism, the journalist is supposed to be at a remove to paint an unbiased picture of what’s going on. I don’t see it as being a huge deal, though did find it a bit uncomfortable when USA Gymnastics clearly tried to control the Larry Nassar narrative by putting Nastia in the terrible position of basically asking her how her experience was so she could be like “well mine was great!” As if that makes everything that happened okay. But that’s more on USA Gymnastics than on the Liukins, and that aside, it’s not really a big deal, I don’t think.

Is there a limit to the amount of CV someone can earn? Or limits on the type? Could you just continually connect D flight releases on bars and get an infinite high score?

Nope! Not in WAG, anyway. A gymnast could technically connect as many skills as she wants on bars to collect connection bonuses even if she’s no longer getting credit for the skills themselves because they only count eight. The same goes on beam, though it’s obviously more of a challenge there to do endless connections due to the time constraints.

As much as I love the NCAA powerhouses, I would love to see some lesser-ranked teams really start to give them some competition. Are there any on your radar that have the potential to shoot up the rankings in the next few years?

Washington has been a favorite of mine for years, so it was amazing to see them get to nationals last season and I hope they continue to rise. Kentucky should hopefully climb the ranks now that their top gymnasts are finally all upperclassmen leading the team, I’m really hoping Boise State is able to kill it this season with one of its best teams ever if everyone’s healthy, Cal is definitely underrated in a busy conference and could continue to rise, and I’d like to see a healthy Arkansas end up climbing the ranks once again after a few off-years.

Did Viktoria Komova burn out? What happened to her? She was a world champion who disappeared a day later!

She was injured. She dealt with a ton of back injuries in her career and in her comeback, making it impossible for her to stay healthy for long stretches of time. It’s not so much burnout — she definitely still wanted to be training and competing — but rather she was just struggling with training in a way that didn’t kill her back. Now she’s training and competing again with a long way to go, but she did get off to a good start and hopefully can keep herself healthy so she can compete at bigger international meets this quad.

If Kyla Ross had been in top form with the upgrades she wanted in 2016 and had made the Rio team, do you think she would’ve beaten Aly Raisman into the all-around final?

No, I don’t think so. I mean, never say never, but if both were at full health and top ability, Aly definitely would’ve had the upper hand over Kyla.

How does the process of changing nationalities work? If a dual citizen competed for one country and then decided they wanted to compete for another, how does that happen?

For some, you can get released from your first country right away, put through the change-of-nation request to the FIG, and be competing for your new country relatively quickly, but other countries have requirements for citizenship that could slow things down. I remember Oksana Chusovitina had a lengthy waiting period before she could compete for Germany due to citizenship requirements, and then if your country refuses to release you, you could have a waiting period of a year or more before you can be released and allowed to compete for your new country.

With the new code, will specialists and the team room and train together in Tokyo if a country has both? Will there be alternates for both roles?

Yes. They’re all part of the same team. The only difference is that two gymnasts will not actually compete in the team final. There will likely be three ‘replacement athletes’ who train off-site just as there have been in the past, and if they need an alternate prior to qualifications, they will have the option of swapping in an individual competitor to the team side and then bringing in a replacement athlete to take over one of the individual spots, or if the replacement athlete pool has a better team fit than one of the individuals, they can put a replacement athlete right onto the team.

What do you think of the idea of bringing back compulsories? Do you think they would be a help to the sport at the top level?

Not really. I think compulsories for elite qualifiers make sense, because you can gauge who has the ability to be competing more difficult skills, but for major international competitions they’re kind of pointless at this stage in the game because pretty much anyone who’s going to win in an open-ended code will do so pretty much no matter how well she fares in the compulsory round. Like, Simone Biles could fall and place tenth in compulsories and still come back to win the all-around. Before the open-ended code when optionals and compulsories were basically weighted the same, compulsories mattered way more, but now optionals would be weighted so much higher, it would basically render compulsories pointless.

What impact do you think working with Laurent Landi will have on Simone Biles?

I think at this stage, she is already her own gymnast with her own talents and abilities and standout skills/events, so he’s not going to come in and magically mold her into a top bar worker. I do think he can offer insight into her training that could maybe make bars a bit easier for her, and his style of coaching could maybe help her realize things about herself as a gymnast that she didn’t know before thanks to his fresh perspective, but I think most of what we actually see from her will be the same. At this point, all she really needs in the gym is a coach who can motivate her in training and get her back to peak gymnastics condition, which she pretty much is already in. She doesn’t need someone telling her how to do skills or whatever, so it’s just going to be all about getting her working at a high level again and keeping her inspired and motivated enough in training so that she can go back to being the best in the world.

Do you think Elena Eremina (Hedgehog) will be Russia’s next big star this quad?

I hope so! There are a few upcoming juniors who also have the potential to do big things in the way Elena is, but Elena is just so much fun to watch and still has so much potential and so much more she can do, I hope she ends up reaching the level of stardom that Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova had.

Are gymnasts who helped qualify a team to the Olympics at 2018-2019 world championships ineligible to contribute towards qualifying an individual through the all-around world cups?

That was the rule last time I checked…I thought I heard that they were considering changing it, but honestly it makes sense to me because it would be unfair for a country to qualify two Olympic spots using the same person. The whole point of being allowed to extra spots on top of the team is to give countries with lots of depth the option of sending a greater number of people than other countries who don’t have that depth, so it wouldn’t be fair to put someone like Simone Biles on a worlds team to contribute scores that help the team qualify, and then send her to an individual meet so she can get another spot for the country. Countries who want those spots need to show that they have multiple gymnasts who can earn them.

Wouldn’t it be insane for Jade Carey’s coach to not put some immediate focus into her dance and artistic skills?

There’s only so much you can do in such a short space of time. Kyla Ross was an elite for like five years before she started figuring out artistry on floor, whereas Jade was basically scouted as a J.O. gymnast less than a year before worlds, and had to use that time to build up insane difficulty on vault and floor, which came to be a higher priority than artistry. In the end it worked for her — she got two world medals, including on floor with one of the highest E scores despite her artistry not being close to anything resembling artistry. Hopefully she’ll get there eventually, but one step at a time.

Do you think that in light of Valeri Liukin’s daughter being so well-trained in dance in the tradition of the Soviets that he might look into this for the future of the U.S. team?

It could help, but it’s really more of a club thing than a national team thing. They’re only at the national team camps a few days a month, so while they do get some dance training there, which they also got during Martha Karolyi’s time, it’s not going to make a huge difference if they’re not putting in the same effort at their clubs. I remember photos and videos of many training exercises at the ranch with ballet barres where everyone was standing in the weakest relevé I’ve ever seen (my poor ballet heart) so he can do that all he wants, but he also needs to make sure club gyms are keeping up with the training as well.

Are there any uneven bars dismounts that involve flipping over the low bar from the high bar?

Back in the day, yes…like the 70s, maybe going into the 80s? I can’t remember anyone doing it beyond that, though. It mostly has to do with the bars being closer together back then, making it easier to dismount over the low bar, whereas now there’d probably be a safety concern with hitting the low bar as it’s further out…and the kinds of dismounts you can do in that directly would mostly be super easy in comparison to dismounts that can come off the other side of the high bar.

How do you see the Romanian WAG team doing at worlds in 2018? Do you see them making the top eight?

Based on what I see right now, no, they would not make the top eight, but could be top 15 if they had Larisa Iordache back, and could maybe then put up a fight for a Tokyo team spot at worlds in 2019. But for 2018…it’s going to be really hard for them to do much in terms of team competition.

Why don’t the judges display the detailed D and E scores with deductions in order to avoid disputes?

I think because then it could potentially lead to even MORE disputes, actually! Can you imagine a coach getting a list of detailed execution deductions and being like “my gymnast did NOT bend her hips on her giants!” Like they’d yell about every deduction at every meet. Now that it’s more ambiguous, they just have to accept the score and move on with no discussion. It would be cool from a fan/writer’s perspective to see all of the deductions so I’m not baffled at a majority of routines either being ridiculously over-scored or weirdly under-scored, but I get why they want to keep everything more ambiguous from a judging standpoint.

Do you think any of the beam or floor deductions are too ‘picky’? I don’t want routines that have nice ‘flow’ and more errors to win over a routine with less ‘flow’ but cleaner skills.

Yes, I agree with this. Part of me liked the really strict beam deductions at worlds this year, but the other side of me was like this is awful, and it honestly makes all judges in the world look incompetent because all year long, including at FIG meets, scores were nowhere near that low and now all of the sudden they are? So no judges all year long knew what they were doing? Anyway, worlds was its own issue, but in general I agree and think that not crediting connections that aren’t fluid is one thing, but by taking off a million tenths for every single teeny tiny adjustment or intermediate movement is borderline ridiculous when the skills themselves are clean and solid.

What did Morgan Hurd say before she mounted the beam in the all-around final at worlds?

I’m not sure! Probably just a little encouragement for herself, like Laurie Hernandez with her “you got this,” or a reminder or cue for her routine like “chest up” or something like that. But I can’t make out what she actually said so I’m just guessing and it probably wasn’t either one of those but just something like it.

Why doesn’t Texas Dreams do TOPs/Hopes?

A few gyms prefer not to do TOPs for whatever reason…GAGE also didn’t do it. I don’t know what the reasoning is, though, considering most of the strongest gymnasts end up being alumni of TOPs and they’re getting early national team camp exposure in addition to getting their names out there. But that could be why some gyms don’t like doing it — because they’d rather wait until they’re at a high skill level and THEN get that exposure/notice? As for Hopes, I know of many coaches who don’t do it because they prefer to just put their gymnasts straight into elite. Hopes is mostly for gymnasts who don’t really know if they will succeed in elite just yet, as well as for coaches of those gymnasts who might not have experience at the elite level, but pretty much most Texas Dreams gymnasts who want to go elite by 11-12 have the skills and scores to qualify for elite outright, so they just bypass Hopes and do elite right away, or they hold back and do it the next year, rather than doing the middle ground that is Hopes.

Do you think the wolf turn on beam will ever be devalued? It seems so much easier considering the center of gravity is lower.

I wish it would, but honestly, if it wasn’t devalued between the 2016 and 2017 codes, I don’t see it really being a priority for the women’s technical committee. I definitely think the double should be a C and the triple should be a D. There’s no way they’re as difficult as the double and triple pirouettes done from a standing position.

Do you think Laurie Hernandez is capable of performing an Amanar or a double double when she returns?

An Amanar, probably not. She hit her peak on vault long before Rio, and unless her body has magically changed into a fortress of strength, I don’t see it being something she’ll go after if only because it would be more likely to lead to a major injury than big scores for her. A double double…maybe. Definitely way more possible than an Amanar.

From the videos I saw at worlds, Ragan Smith’s double arabian didn’t look like it was sideways. Was this just the angle of the videos, or did she straighten out the flips?

They honestly looked a lot better to me, so she must have done some skill-correcting between last year and this year. Given that she picked up her basics at her old gym, and given that many other Texas Dreams-trained arabians were so stellar, I’m thinking it’s possible that she was able to change her technique on the skill.

Tatiana Gutsu performed a split double layout as her first pass on floor. Is that not in the code anymore? What difficulty value would you assign that skill?

It’s not in the code anymore. I can’t decide if I think it’s harder or easier than a regular double layout having never done anything similar myself. Probably harder? Split legs can’t make aerodynamics and rotation easier than legs together. But at the same time, you can get away with messier leg technique because it’s harder to pinpoint exactness in the skill? So I don’t know. I’d just make it the same as a regular double layout.

I heard Tim Daggett say that he’d never seen anyone do Aly Raisman’s second pass at 2015 classics, an arabian double pike. Was he wrong? Is it also true no one had ever done her first pass?

He was probably talking about the tumbling line as a whole, the arabian double pike into the front tuck, which is so freaking hard. A few have done the arabian double pike on its own, including originator Daiane Dos Santos like a decade (or more, counting is hard) prior, so he was definitely talking about Aly punching out of the Dos Santos into a front tuck, which is a first, as is Aly’s opening pass, the 1½ through to arabian double front to punch front layout. Some gymnasts have done a 1½ through to double arabian, others have done a double arabian to punch front, but all three combined? That’s what made her who she is!

Do you know what happened with Courtney Kupets’ injury before beam in the 2004 team final? Why was she cleared for floor but not beam?

She was supposed to do beam but right before felt like she couldn’t physically make it through and had to have Mohini Bhardwaj sub in literally at the last second, which Mohini was able to handle no problem thanks to her NCAA experience.

I was once told by a former trampoline competitor that a front half that twists before vertical is called a Jonah? And that it has to be after vertical to be considered a barani, and that gymnasts who submit that they are competing a barani but twist early and do a Jonah not only negate that skill, but all the others that follow it? Is that true?

Yes, a front half with an early half twist is called a Jonah in trampoline, though you never hear that term used in artistic gymnastics where literally every front half is just referred to as a barani, even if the twist comes a bit early. I would guess that this could be a rule in trampoline but I don’t know the trampoline code of points at all so I can’t say for sure.

What did you think of Rebecca Bross’ bars? She had her legs as far apart as possible while still keeping her toes together. Is that a valid way to do bars?

She did this because she’s knock-kneed. As someone who is also knock-kneed with hyperextension, I can’t sit with my legs straight out in front of me and keep both my knees and my feet together. If I have my knees together, my feet end up with a six-inch gap between them, which is how Rebecca’s legs are naturally shaped as well.

Because her legs below her knees can’t physically touch no matter how hard she tries, which would create a billion leg separations on bars and every other event on a skill in which the legs are supposed to be glued together, the women’s technical committee allowed for her and other knock-kneed gymnasts to sickle their toes in and touch them together to show they have control over their leg form.

It’s actually SO MUCH HARDER to do this than it is to just keep your legs together, so she was fighting through way harder than pretty much anyone else on bars, and yet got nothing but crap for it because it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing. And yet Rebecca almost never broke form and always managed to keep her toes sickled into each other without them coming apart, because that’s how good she was at bars. Imagine if she didn’t have knock-knees? She’d be a bars queen.

Why is Ericha Fassbender ineligible for the upcoming season? Will she ever be eligible again?

I don’t know what made her ineligible but she had a post on instagram saying that last year was the most difficult in her life, and she is now retired from the sport. Unfortunate, as she was a great performer, but I think she’s still at the University of Florida for school.

Why does it seem like the U.S. names Olympic and worlds teams so differently? With worlds, camp is the only real factor, but the last two Olympic teams have been decided before the selection process starts.

For the most part, by the time the Olympic year rolls around, you can kind of tell who’s going to make the team and there’s very little that can happen to change that. I basically picked the 2016 team at worlds in 2015, and really until MyKayla Skinner came along at Olympic Trials to shock everyone with what she could do, none of my picks shifted or changed even a little. Had MyKayla come out at Jesolo looking like that, she probably would’ve thrown a wrench into Martha Karolyi’s plans a bit more, because Martha would’ve had more time to consider what she could do, but with her stepping up so late in the game she was really too untested to throw into an Olympic situation which is probably why she wasn’t considered a game changer as seriously as I would’ve liked her to be.

But with worlds, especially in the early half of the quad, you’re in a totally different world where you really don’t know everyone and what they can do. I wouldn’t say camp is the ONLY factor for worlds teams, and I could’ve easily picked half of this year’s team in March with Ragan Smith and Ashton Locklear all but locks for the team all year long, but when you have so many gymnasts who aren’t locks doing similar levels of gymnastics, you have a ton of options that can all be viable and so you wait until the last minute to pick who’s looking best for the job when it’s closest because otherwise it’s too early to tell when they haven’t had the kind of competitive experience over the years in the way Ragan and Ashton did that would make you know them enough to make them locks for a team six months out.

Could a gymnast use their name/brand to promote stuff and then accept the money and donate it somewhere else in cash so they wouldn’t get a tax write-off and keep their NCAA eligibility? Could they ask the company to directly donate it so they never touch the money?

No. The donation aspect wouldn’t matter. They’d still be paid by a company for their name/brand even if the money is going directly to someone else.

I read that the Yurchenko half-on entry was first performed by Oksana Omelianchik. Why isn’t this entry referred to as the Omelianchik?

I’m not sure…probably just something that didn’t stick. Some names just don’t stick for whatever reason, like pirouette names on bars. Or maybe because the Omelianchik is a vault in itself, it just becomes too confusing to be like “she’s doing an Omelianchik” — are you talking about the entry or the roundoff half-on front pike?

I saw one or two leos with huge neck holes at last year’s NCAA meets. How do they keep it from falling off? It’s big enough to slip off the shoulders.

Double-sided tape! I only know this from “Toddlers and Tiaras.” I think a majority of gymnasts hate it, though. Competing is hard enough without having to also worry about if your clothes will fall off.

You said Miss Val could coach Jordyn Wieber at the elite level if she wanted to. But when Casey Jo McGee competed elite, her coach needed to get qualified for that. Do you need special qualifications and does Miss Val have that? Or were the commentators wrong?

Coaches don’t really need special qualifications to coach at the elite level…aside from maybe just getting a USAG professional membership? It’s easy enough to get a professional membership, though, so it’s not like it would’ve been a big deal for him to get “qualified.” Miss Val coached Vanessa Zamarripa at the elite level in 2010 and it wasn’t like she had to go through any sort of training to do so.

Is the Weiler kip named after a person? Why wasn’t the female version named after Jordyn Wieber? Commentators said she was the first woman to do them.

They’re named for Wilhelm Weiler, a German-born gymnast who represented Canada at the 1964 Olympic Games. He first began competing the Weiler kip in the 50s and 60s, and like many old school skills, it became known by just that one name whether a male or female competitor did it (like a Tkachev). Jordyn was the first female gymnast (slash gymnast in general) to do a Weiler kip in a really long time, but she wasn’t the first to compete one. I remember Tia Orlando had a Weiler kip in her routine in like 2001 when she was a baby, but Jordyn really just brought them back into everyone’s life when she started doing them a decade later.

Do you know why it’s forbidden to wear a leotard like they wear in rhythmic, with a little skirt?

I think just because it breaks up the line and is distracting on difficult acro skills. Judges want/need to see as much of the body as possible, whereas in rhythmic, they can get away with having a little more of a costume since even though there is a technical aspect, it’s more about their performance aspect than being like “were her hip angles off by 20 degrees?” They do make allowances for gymnasts who need to wear long tights for religious needs, but anything that’s considered decoration isn’t allowed, and a skirt would be decoration.

Did Flavia Saraiva retire? I’ve seen on Instagram that it looks like she’s diving?

No! She’s still training. She was probably just playing around with diving. She was injured this year and decided to take some time off from competing lest she get injured even further, which is smart. Brazil is all about the team next year and in 2019.

Why don’t switch rings on beam often get credit?

Because the back leg on most is often a mess. For a switch ring to get credited, the back foot has to reach the crown of the head, the front leg has to be at horizontal, there needs to be a 180 split, and the upper back must arch backwards with the head also released backwards. Normally gymnasts get like 75% of where they need to be with all of this and the skill is generally downgraded to a switch leap. The back leg issue is most noticeable, and truly, so many switch rings don’t even get close to what judges are hoping to see.

What’s the tie-breaking procedure that’s applied in case three gymnasts from the same country rank in the top eight after qualifications, but the second and third are scored the same (same D, same E, like Gabby Douglas and Aly Raimsan on beam in Rio qualifications)? They both would’ve made the final had they not been two-per-country’ed out by Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez. If either Simone or Laurie didn’t qualify, who among Gabby and Aly would’ve gotten the finals spot?

It’s up to the national team coach or coordinator to make the decision between the two who tied, so in that scenario, had Simone or Laurie not gotten in and Gabby and Aly tied for a finals spot with zero ability to tiebreak them, Martha Karolyi would choose who she wanted to go into the final.

What did you think about Montreal? What did you like most and least about the city?

I didn’t actually get to see much of the city! Between being in the arena, doing my coverage, and recording Gymcastic, I was working 16+ hours a day. One night after podium training Kyle Shewfelt took me and a few others out to dinner in the old city, which was really fun and I did end up getting to see a few of the nice buildings and stuff there, and one day before a competition held later in the day, we got to do an escape room thanks to Deanna Hong’s insistence (she ended up doing three of them on this trip). That aside…I didn’t see much, sadly! I think I liked a lot of the architecture the most, at least that I saw, but I didn’t love how spread out it was. I went to Montreal for Gymnix last year as well, and felt like it was sooooo big, it reminded me of Los Angeles in that sense…I tend to like smaller cities where you can walk everywhere.

If some of Russia’s world/Olympic veterans end up staying healthy, do you think any of the post-2000 born gymnasts could push past them to make it to the Olympics? Who?

I think Elena Eremina could definitely be in the mix, and I’m also really into Ksenia Klimenko, though she definitely has to add a lot of difficulty. There are quite a few others as well, like Angelina Simakova, Aleksandra Shekoldina, and Valeria Saifulina, all of whom have been pretty solid, but it’s hard to say right now whether they’d push past veterans. If you have any of the 2012 or 2016 girls in top form compared to how any of these new kids look right now, Elena is the only one with a real shot, but the others are definitely still young and not yet at full difficulty, so it’ll be interesting to see who can come up and shine in the coming years.

Why do I always see Maria Paseka chalking the bars for her teammates when she’s not even competing in that event?

Gymnasts can have two ‘coaches’ on the floor with them, and they generally take a coach and then sometimes one of their teammates to act as moral support and to help with things like chalking the bars. The U.S. gymnasts just take their one personal coach, but some other countries will let their gymnasts bring a teammate out in addition to a coach because I think it tends to help them with how they deal with the stress of competing.

Why are bars transitions capped at E? I understand the rule for pirouettes but transitions are still release moves that shouldn’t face such restrictions.

I’ve never understood this rule, especially because there are many bars transitions all rated an E despite being vastly different in terms of actual difficulty. It really limits creativity here, and I think without a cap, we could get so many more gymnasts doing super difficult transition work.

Do you think the judges are really taking deductions for lack of artistry on floor?

Yes! It’s one of the big ones. A majority of routines get deducted for a lack of artistry in terms of the choreography and the expression/performance of the routine.

Are there more 20-something gymnasts competing and medaling in WAG now than there were 10-20 years ago?

Yes, a lot more. I think it partially has to do with the open-ended code, as it’s harder for smaller program countries to develop talent at the highest level and so gymnasts who really stand out as internationally competitive can basically stick around as long as they’d like and still get international assignments since there’s no one else in their program who can get spots over them. Gymnasts who want to keep competing aren’t having to fight in larger pools of depth, and so they’re able to take advantage of that.

Is it possible that bigger programs than Oregon State could become more interested in recruiting Jade Carey after her worlds success?

It’s possible that they want her now, but it’s not likely that she’ll change her commitment.

Did Jade Carey change clubs? She used to go to Oasis but now it looks like she’s at Arizona Sunrays?

Yeah. I’m not sure the reasoning behind the change, but given that her dad was her coach at Oasis and is still her coach at Arizona Sunrays, it could be something to do with the facility being more accommodating or better for what she’s doing? There are a million reasons people like making changes, but either way, she’s still training with her dad as her head coach.

As a new gym fan who lives within driving distance of NCAA Championships, how do I get better seats? They were mostly sold out last year. Any tips?

I would say just look as early as possible and try to book them then…and then maybe check re-sale sites possibly through various schools that might have teams attending? Often schools and their parents buy up the majority of the seats so those available for the general public tend to be slim pickings. But many times schools will end up buying too many so you never know…getting in touch with a program or checking re-sale sites is the best option!

Who are you hoping will be the first person to successfully compete the Yurchenko triple?

I really want it to be McKayla Maroney but that’s never going to happen so excuse me while I go cry and cry and cry. I’d be thrilled with Simone Biles getting it, though. But I feel like it could legitimately be Jade Carey, and I feel like it’ll be a good one, so I’m here for it.

Could Aly Raisman pull off a triple arabian tumbling pass?

Probably not…like, she could probably throw one into a pit but it would be really hard to land one. I won’t say impossible, but basically impossible.

Would there be any sanctions towards NCAA gymnasts that smoke tobacco? I thought I read that it’s outlawed as a performance enhancing drug?

Tobacco isn’t banned in NCAA, but it’s listed as a substance that impacts performance ability. Tobacco IS banned during practice and competition, but a gymnast could go home if she wanted to and smoke all night, though I’m pretty sure she would very well know how poorly it could affect her performance and most would probably choose to not smoke.

Can artistic gymnasts wear pants like some use in rhythmic gymnastics?

They can wear long tights or tight shorts for religious purposes, but they can’t wear like, costume pants or tights like rhythmic costumes have.

If there had been a team final at worlds this year, who would’ve won/been in the top eight?

It’s hard to say, because not every country had multiple gymnasts doing full all-around sets, so if a federation chose to bring three random specialists, they really wouldn’t have had a shot at a team competition this year even though in regular years when they plan on team competition, they’d be in a much better position (e.g. Russia, which came with three bars gymnasts but really no one for beam and floor). So I did a little math and came up with the top teams based on two scores per event from qualifications and here they are, in ranked order: the United States, Japan, Germany, Canada, Russia, Great Britain, France, and Belgium.

Is there any specific reason why gymnasts like Nastia Liukin and Laurie Hernandez get more attention/publicity when others who have also been successful don’t get as much?

I don’t think either of them has had more attention than others? I think a lot of people were always questioning how Shawn Johnson got a lot more publicity than Nastia even though Nastia won the all-around gold back in 2008, though Nastia has become much more famous since then thanks to keeping herself relevant and in the spotlight, mostly because of her business savvy. Laurie had a lot of press post-Rio, but so did Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, and after 2012 Gabby Douglas was literally raking in endless deals. At the time, Laurie was the newcomer no one really knew about outside of the gym world, so it may have seemed like she got more press, but money-wise and attention-wise, Simone’s definitely on a whole other level. It’s all about your perception I guess!

Why did Martha Karolyi leave the team alternate Anna Li out in 2011 when Alicia Sacramone got injured?

The explanation was that Anna also had an injury, something with her ribs, and couldn’t do bars, which was the event they would’ve used her for. They ended up being fine, obviously, and winning gold so it wasn’t a huge deal though I’m sure Anna would’ve liked competing had she not been injured so it’s too bad it didn’t happen.

Is the only difference between a walk-on and scholarship athlete the scholarship or are there other perks, benefits, and privileges that scholarship athletes get?

It’s mostly just the scholarship aspect that matters. Walk-ons are still treated like they’re part of the team and many of them often end up helping out even more than some scholarship athletes do, and they have everything covered for them in terms of travel and lodging for competitions, and they also get to participate in press events and things like that.

Would it be possible/beneficial for men to use a jump out of their tumbling like women do to try to improve their landings? Has any male gymnast ever tried?

They don’t really have the dance skills in the code that the women have, so they wouldn’t be able to jump out of a pass because the jump they did out of the tumbling wouldn’t be recognized as a skill and so they would just look like they were having wildly rebounded landings.

Could you name some U.S. gymnasts who didn’t make a worlds team in their first year as seniors but went on to make teams the following years?

Just going back a few quads, Alicia Sacramone didn’t make Athens but then made worlds in 2005 and went on to be one of the most-decorated U.S. gymnasts of all time, Shayla Worley missed worlds in 2006 due to injury but made it in 2007, neither Mackenzie Caquatto nor Mattie Larson made the Olympic team in 2008 but made the worlds team in 2010, Brenna Dowell didn’t make the Olympic team in 2012 but made the worlds teams in 2013 and 2015, MyKayla Skinner didn’t make the Olympic team in 2012 but made the worlds team in 2014 and was the alternate in 2015 and for the Olympic team in 2016, Maggie Nichols didn’t make the worlds teams in 2013 or 2014 (due to injury in the latter) but made it in 2015, and Ragan Smith didn’t make the Olympic team in 2016 but made the worlds team in 2017.

I’ve noticed that the Chinese either don’t use grips on bars or use grips without dowels. Why? Does it make catching releases more difficult but pirouetting easier?

It’s a personal preference kind of thing. Gymnasts who grow up not using grips, as the Chinese did, end up not using grips as they get older and do more difficult skills. Just like girls who grow up using grips can’t transition to NOT using grips, girls who grow up without grips sometimes put grips on and can’t handle having that extra bit of fabric between their hands and the bar. They find other ways to grasp the bar better, like honey and sugar in addition to the usual chalk and water, but prefer grasping with bare hands (or with a minimal strip of fabric) compared to the feeling of having the grip material between their hands and the bar.

Has any Chinese gymnast performed a double arabian on floor recently?

Not that I can think of…maybe someone random at nationals or something that I didn’t see, but from what I’ve seen from the major national team members, no.

I’ve noticed some gymnasts start their floor immediately after the ‘chime’ at the same exact time their music plays. What would happen if a gymnast started moving and then realized the wrong music was playing?

They would stop their choreography and signal for the music to stop, and they’d quickly find out that it was the wrong music so the gymnast could start her routine over again.

Is Giulia Steingruber part Italian? Would she be eligible to compete for Italy like her former teammate Giada Grisetti? Why did Giada switch teams?

No, Giulia is only Swiss. Not every gymnast from Switzerland who is part Italian also has Italian citizenship. Giada switched teams because her coach moved to Italy, and Giada wanted to stay with her coach. Too bad, because she’d basically make any team she wants in Switzerland whereas Italy is going to be much tougher, especially given her history with consistency struggles.

Do you think Aliya Mustafina can come back and be competitive internationally?

Yeah, it can happen. Several gymnasts have come back after giving birth and they’ve gotten back to their old levels of difficulty and ability. Since she was at such a high level, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s not like she lost all of her gymnastics ability when she gave birth…if a lower-level gymnast like Göksu Üctas Sanli can get back to where she was before childbirth, Aliya can probably do the same, just on a higher level than Göksu did.

Is it possible to do a release move on bars after a jam instead of handstand? Why don’t we see jams now?

You kind of have to finish the jam in a handstand position because otherwise the position you’re in right before the handstand doesn’t really leave you able to continue directly into a skill, but you could do a jam to handstand into a Jaeger, a Markelov, or, as Chellsie Memmel did, a double front dismount.

How much does coaching affect a gymnast’s twisting form? If Aliya Mustafina had different coaches when she was younger, could her form have been better?

It really is a foundational thing, but it’s also something that happens when you do a difficult skill and need to compensate for a lack of height, the inability to twist quickly, and so on. Aliya actually may have been taught the correct technique for twisting when she was a kid, and she can definitely do simpler twisting elements without crossing her legs, but when it comes to harder skills like her triple full, she just has a bad habit of twisting them to make it easier for her to get around because the skill itself is too difficult for her to do with perfect form. But give her a double full, and she’s perfectly fine.

Do you know who the scholarship athletes are at UCLA?

Off the top of my head, Nia Dennis, Anna and Grace Glenn, Pua Hall, Felicia Hano, Madison Kocian, Peng Peng Lee, Katelyn Ohashi, Kyla Ross, and Macy Toronjo for sure, and then both Sonya Meraz and JaNay Honest were awarded full-ride scholarships for their senior season in 2018, which is 12. The international girls on the team (Sofia Gonzalez, Giulianna Pino, Stella Savvidou, and Pauline Tratz) could have some sort of foreign athlete grants rather than traditional NCAA scholarships, and then the others mostly seem in-state.

Thais Fidelis did a double back tuck with one and a half twists at podium training for Brazil’s event championships. How would FIG have named it if she performed it and hit it at worlds or the Olympics before anyone else?

Since she’s officially listed with the FIG as Thais Santos, they’d probably call it the Santos, since her official FIG name isn’t dos Santos. If she was listed as Thais dos Santos, though, I still don’t think it’d be an issue. For named skills, the full name goes into the code of points, so she’d be listed as Thais dos Santos in the code next to the skill, and colloquially the skill would probably be referred to as the T. Dos Santos if people needed to differentiate between that and the D. Dos Santos I and II. But again, it wouldn’t really be a problem since she’s only listed as Santos with the FIG.

Why does Ashton Locklear nearly always get higher execution scores than the others?

Because her skills are that good. She executes the majority of them to near-perfection, and she has very little going wrong in terms of built-in foundational flaws. When she hits, her routines are excellent, with only slight errors throughout, most of them really not all that noticeable to the untrained eye.

What do the judges deduct for on bars? To the untrained eye, many performances look nearly perfect.

The biggest deductions come from handstands not hitting vertical right on top of the bar, leg separation on skills where legs are supposed to be glued together, piked hips on swinging elements…these are all of the things judges can get really picky about, in addition to the more obvious faults like losing rhythm and falling.

Is there anything that can be done to address the issue of low scores given to gymnasts in the first subdivision compared to later subdivisions?

The only thing that would really work would be putting everyone in the same subdivision which is entirely impossible. I’m hoping this will be something that robotic judging can fix in the near future, because then the only questionable issues would be related to artistry from one subdivision to the next…but all of the quantitative technical aspects could hopefully be in a better place so that there wouldn’t be as much of a discrepancy.

Do you think the new code of points for beam is dangerous and is likely to lead to accidents since gymnasts are penalized for looking down at the beam and adjusting their feet?

Not really, as they don’t really need to look at their feet to see if they’re in a correct position. I was talking to a gymnast who was working on fixing her feet so that she doesn’t look down as much and she said she doesn’t need to look down at all but for most gymnasts, it’s just a nervous habit and a double-check for them even though there are other ways to make sure they’re in the correct spot and they know they’re in the correct spot but like looking down anyway because it’s like a security blanket kind of thing. But at the same time, I do think the rule is unnecessary. The least of the problems on beam is seeing gymnasts double check their positioning. The only people it’s probably distracting to are the judges, and it doesn’t really ruin the flow of the routine to have people looking down for half a second before doing a flight series.

Why does Sanne Wevers only do bars and beam?

As an older gymnast who has dealt with her fair share of injuries, Sanne decided to just stick to these two events so she can focus on making them strong and also protect herself from injuries she might have to deal with if she was doing vault and floor.

Why don’t gymnasts spot their pirouettes on beam and floor the way dancers do?

It’s so bizarre to me as someone who learned to spot as a dancer, but I guess since they didn’t grow up learning the technique for spotting, it’s not weird for them to not be spotting? When spotting, a dancer is using her head and shoulders to propel the pirouette around, transferring momentum through the shoulders and into the whole body. But the gymnastics technique for turning is to just start at maximum speed and use their core strength to try to control it. They also use their arms in a way dancers would never do, and those arm positions help them get the turn around without spotting (and they actually really wouldn’t be able to spot with their arms in those positions), and because they use their speed to get around, whereas dancers don’t use speed for momentum, they actually would injure their necks spotting at that speed because it’s too fast for their head/neck to keep up. So yeah, really just two different techniques, one that works for dancers and one that works for gymnasts. But I do think just going fast and not spotting is why so many gymnasts fall out of turns too early, or why they end up so wobbly.

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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50 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Mohini pinch-hitting on beam in Athens is still one of the greatest gymnastics moments I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I know being an NCAA veteran had to have helped her mentally, but I still can’t imagine the pressure she must have been under, and boy did she deliver. Hats off to that girl, seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was insane! And really cool. Courtney told me literally the only reason she stepped out was because she knew Mohini could handle it, otherwise she would’ve competed injured.


  2. Thanks for answering my question on the omelianchick vault! I was referring to the entry itself. My question was really why a half on is still referred as a a yurchenko since to the best of my knowledge Natalia did not originate it? I was just thinking it would make more sense to have it name after the first person which actually did it but I guess since it is so similar to the regular yurchenko no distinction was needed or something


    • Yeah, in my answer I meant that because Omelianchik had a vault named for her, also having an entry named for her might make things confusing because then you don’t know if they’re talking about the Omelianchik entry or the Omelianchik vault. It’s referred to a Yurchenko half-on because the entry itself is the Yurchenko with a half twist, the same way we might say toe-on Tkachev half even though that’s not an actual Tkachev and that variation is technically called a Tweddle. All of this aside, naming schemes were way different in the 80s than they were now, so lots of MAG skills carried over to WAG with MAG names, some skills didn’t get named at all, and so on. So there’s probably many reasons they didn’t call the Yurchenko half-on entry an Omelianchik.


    • She has a legit scholarship from NCAA? It could be Peng who doesn’t have a scholarship…sometimes those who get granted an additional year only get a scholarship if there’s room available, so if there wasn’t room available for Peng, she could just be paying for this year.


    • SAAAAAAAAME. Like, I love Riley McCusker to bits and she is my gorgeous fairy princess but I’m like “GO TRAIN WITH KELLI HILL OR ANYONE WHO WILL APPRECIATE YOU” because I’m afraid M.H. is gonna break her long before Tokyo at this rate.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t think she’s the most talented tbh but such a hard worker, which could get her really far. But she seems like a generally fragile type and this makes it especially bad considering how M.H. and MG Elite coach.. I’m actually wondering if she can make it make in 2018. I really hope so but I think there’s almost no way we’ll see her in the 2020 games.. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it honestly was really cool at first, especially seeing Jazzy’s transformation from one year to the next but then like…that was it for Jazzy really. She did all of her upgrades at once and that was the best she looked, peaking in 2014 as a junior. Meanwhile Ragan was a mess on bars in 2014 and didn’t even originally make the national team because of it, but slowly added to her routine and now is weirdly one of the better bar workers in the country and nearly made the worlds final, on her weakest event. I’ll never understand why coaches will want to push every single potential upgrade at one moment in time when it’s pretty evident that slowly adding a few each year works best for longevity.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a shame about Jazzy because she had insane potential. Imagine what she could do if she didn’t have a trash heap as a coach. I love Riley to bits and I will scream if she retires prematurely. As for Ragan, i’m so so so impressed with her bars. In 2016 I was very “Ewww dead hangs and short handstands everywhere”. But this year she fixed the majority of those along with adding in some shoddy inbars and some great releases and connections. She really underperformed in quals at worlds. She had two large mistakes and still placed fifteenth lol. Had she hit normally my guess is she would have made finals. I really hope she comes back and claims the #2 spot (Which really is the #1 spot when superwoman is around) or ties Morgo. I love them both ugh I LOVE GYMNASTICS!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m really hoping Shallon Olsen can get the TTY completed and named. I just like her gymnastics much more than Carey. I really want her, Ellie, Brooklyn and Ana to go to Tokyo and win medals. Am I the only one who would lose my mind if Olsen won a medal on vault, Ana on Bars, Ellie on Beam and Brooklyn on floor at the 2020 olympics? I think they could make it happen, even if it would be super difficult to pull off.


    • Ok but I’d prefer for Shallon to walk away from her gymnastics career with her ankles at least semi intact, which isn’t gonna happen if she attempts the TTY. Hell, she can barely get the Amanar around. Carey, on the other hand, has more than enough power and height to make it happen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, Shallon is a bit of a mess on her DTY right now, and her Amanar is low key a disaster. Meanwhile, Jade is over-rotating her Amanars to the point of running out of them. She fully has room for a triple. Shallon needs a ton of work. If they both end up getting it competition-ready in the next couple of years, Shallon’s might actually better than her Amanar because there’s no blind landing, but Jade’s will absolutely be better in terms of form and rotation.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Yeah, most likely, but she seemed to always hold back from it because she goes for perfection over big skills, so even though the majority of her skills are super difficult, she only does them once they’re perfected, so I don’t see her doing a TTY unless it’s 100% excellent. She’s definitely trained them though, and absolutely has the power. I just don’t see it being a strategy of hers to actually compete it. Though you never know!


        • I’m hoping that NCAA will help Shallon the way it helped Brittany. Brittany emerged out of NCAA ten times better both in difficulty and execution than she did going in, and the same thing happened for Kate Richardson at UCLA, and I’m hoping Alabama will do the same for Shallon.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! That was a lot of questions answered! Thank you so much!
    In terms of good atmosphere, I agree with Cluj 2017: in retrospect it seemed like the Romanians were hanging to their last hopes to get medals with Larisa, Catalina and Marian. The qualifications with Cata and Larisa arriving in the last section was even wilder than the finale itself. It was very pleasant because it was very warm toward other athletes too. Now I look back at it with a mix of joy and melancholy thinking about how Romanian gymnastics has become. Catalina said it well when she said that Montreal was the end of a cycle (1976-2007). Marian and Larisa look like the last hopes to get medals this quad.
    I really didn’t enjoy Rio at all, especially men’s qualifications and event finals. London’s was indeed great. I like Montpellier and Glasgow too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Romanian Gymnastics is a trash heap right now. Obviously Golgota and Crisan show great potential, but so have all of their other juniors and first year seniors who have fallen to waste such as European Beam champion Andreea Munteanu. I’ll also reference Andreea Iridon, everyone was like YASSS SHE’S GONNA SAVE ROMANIAN BARS! But she fell at worlds and then retired! It’s Romania’s inability to make use out of their talented young gymnasts that has destroyed my faith in them and also their program altogether! If they would have fixed issues instead of calling Ponor back, maybe they would have a great deal of depth with gymnasts like Jurca, Stanila, Ocolisan and Munteanu who all could have been great contributors. It’s truly a shame to see the greatest country the sport had ever seen go down in flames like this! I really “hope” that they can magically work things out, but i’m definitely not holding my breath. It’s heartbreaking! RIP ROMANIA 1976- 2015

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, they did it to themselves. They had gymnasts other countries would have given their right arm to have, like Munteanu, and didn’t value them. Any mistake, any mis-step and Ponor was wheeled back in. Who wouldn’t have lost all their confidence and motivation? I can’t understand how anyone thought such short term thinking was going to work out for them.


      • Yeah they did do it to themselves but it’s not Munteanu or Stanila’s fault that they treated them like crap! In any country other than Romania (Or maybe the US because they’re so deep), they would have been valued members and grown as competitors. Shame. Screw the RGF. FIX EVERYTHING, RADUCAN!


        • Oh, for sure, I mean the federation did it to themselves. I feel super bad for those gymnasts who were shafted and ended up retiring at 16-17. It wasn’t their fault.


    • Yeah there are a lot of ‘dream team’ scenarios you can put together for Romania to be like “see?! they can get into the final!!!” but the likelihood of them working out is rare. If every single gymnast is healthy for worlds next year (Ocolisan, Iordache, Crisan, Holbura, and Golgota) they’d maybe have a shot at the team final but honestly I wouldn’t bet on all five of them being in competitive shape.


      • Yeah, when I first saw her I just assumed she was all or part Swiss Italian, because of her first name. A lot of Swiss Italians (like her teammate Ilaria Kaeslin) have Italian first names and German last names, but in her case, maybe her parents just liked the name!


  6. At the end of a bars routine when gymnasts do giant swings while building up to the dismount they usually do not hit the handstand position do the judges deduct for this?


  7. I’m not sure if the Rebecca Bross question was mine or not, but I know I’ve wondered about her leg form for a long time. I’ve never noticed anyone else’s quite like her’s but I’ve only recently become more than a four-year fan.

    Fwiw, I’ve never thought her leg form looked *bad*, per se, or would give her a hard time for it. I’ve just thought it looked different and maybe a little weird and assumed it was a different technique. She always did manage to keep those toes together!


    • I had two Bross questions about the same thing so I deleted one and answered one…but they basically were similar enough in their phrasing to get the idea! A lot of people hated Bross’ leg form without knowing her knock knee issue. I was just taking a pic of my legs as I was standing up because it’s so funny that I can’t put my feet together…and if I do, I have to push one knee forward a solid six inches. But I can’t imagine having to hold my feet in the position Bross did! It’s definitely not aesthetically preferred, but considering she physically couldn’t put her legs together, I think she did a great job figuring out how to make it work even though she got lots of hate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s always been so strange to me that gymnasts don’t spot turns when it’s such a fundamental (and highly useful) dance technique. I’ve always wanted to know whether there was an actual reason for it, like that the carpet makes it harder to turn, or something like that, or what the deal is. Seems like with the dance training that the gymnasts do receive someone along the way would’ve been like, “Hey, maybe try spotting and you won’t fall over on a double turn.” How do we get answers to this?? 😛


  8. the build up to bar dismounts often involves 2 or 3 giant swings where the handstands are short. Do you know how much they are deducted for each of these giant swings?


  9. Comment: Here is a video of Aliya Mustafina with perfect twisting technique in 2009. I’m not sure she actually learned the bad twisting technique as a kid. I don’t know what happened.


    • I’m convinced her torn ACL made her wary of landing twisting elements. Her triple, 2.5 and DTY always have a bent left knee immediately before landing, the same knee she tore her ACL


  10. Oh, you’ve been answering some questions about Rebecca Bross lately! Thanks a lot! This kid was a favourite of mine and I really admire her hard work. I hope she is fine and wish her all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The 2020 qualification question specifically mentioned AA world cups– so can the specialist spots from the event word cups be on the 2019 Worlds team? That would seem the fairest to me, since you couldn’t have a situation of, say, Simone competing at Worlds and getting an AA spot and then competing with the team and giving it to someone else when the spot’s nominative.

    I wouldn’t assume all hope is lost where downgrading wolf turns is concerned. Sometimes the FIG likes to wait around a quad for stuff like that, like with the Produnova in the new code.


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