You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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Jade Carey

It’s time for the 204th 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.

In your post about the Montreal floor final, you say that Jade Carey is ‘so coachable.’ What exactly does this mean? How do you know? Are there gymnasts you can point out as being coachable or not at all?

Generally when I talk about someone being coachable, I mean that they’re kind of easily able to mold to certain situations, if that makes sense? Like she is a canvas and a coach can basically throw paint at it and something magical happens. I can’t really explain how I determine who is ‘coachable’ and who isn’t as coachable, but with someone like Jade, who so easily adapted to elite and picked up so many big skills so quickly, it’s quite obvious that she’s easily coachable, whereas there are gymnasts who are maybe a bit more stubborn or headstrong who can be super talented gymnasts but who aren’t always as easily coachable as girls like Jade are.

What are the primary TV stations that broadcast NCAA gymnastics?

Each conference basically has its own network…the SEC Network (part of ESPN), the Pac 12 Network, the Big 10 Network…this is where you can catch most meets if you subscribe to these packages through your cable company, though I believe you can also pay for access via streaming sites like Sling. Other schools without access to broadcasting companies will generally live stream on their own websites or on YouTube, so those are also options, and each week this season we’ll have full schedules linking to every stream we can find!

How does the selection work for the Nastia Liukin Cup?

There are a series of invitationals held in January and February leading up to the Nastia Liukin Cup, with each invitational given a couple of qualifying spots (usually something like one junior and one senior spot, though it varies per meet based on the registration size for each event). The list of invitational qualifiers can be found here, and we generally find out the qualifiers on a weekly basis as the season goes on. 

Is there a certain way of getting lineups for NCAA? I think people would like to know so they don’t count zeroes in Fantasy Gym.

Unfortunately no, some lineups aren’t decided until about five minutes before the meet because training that day often determines who gets to compete, so while you do know the majority of a team’s lineup from week to week, sometimes there will be changes that come about that you (or they) can’t plan for. Also, don’t tweet the programs or gymnasts asking for lineups!! They get very annoyed by this!

Is it safe/possible for a gymnast to train and compete while pregnant? Was Aliya Mustafina pregnant in Rio?

No, Aliya was not pregnant in Rio. It’s definitely safe and possible for gymnasts to train/compete while pregnant. I mean, use your judgment and maybe don’t throw Produnovas when you’re nine months in and ready to explode, but there was a former MIT gymnast named Julia Sharpe who kept up her training and conditioning 35 weeks into her pregnancy with twins. Julia, who competed MAG as a club gymnast, trained all of her skills for the first ten weeks of her pregnancy, stopped tumbling and vaulting after 12 weeks, and continued with a strength and handstand regimen until about 37 weeks in, and she returned to competition eight weeks after giving birth. #Superwoman

What are the chances of Larisa Iordache compete at Doha in 2018?

I think she has a pretty good shot of coming back from her injuries in time but I could see her not wanting to risk it if she has 2020 in mind. I think part of her problem last quad was fighting to push past injuries just to be ready for worlds so she could help the team, and it unfortunately didn’t allow her to be in peak form for 2016. I think it’s pretty clear that Romania isn’t going to be turning any heads as a team at worlds in the coming years so I could see her not being so focused on the team in the future so she can instead focus on getting an Olympic spot for herself.

Why don’t men use music on floor?

Floor actually originated as a ‘free exercise’ meant to show strength, control, balance, flexibility, and acrobatic skill, and it was the same when women also began competing on the event. Eventually, floor became more ‘feminized’ because it was the 1950s and that’s what people wanted back then. What men did stayed the same, but the women added music, choreography, and style, which became the key aspects to women’s floor at the time, with simple acro skills in there as well, but that’s not what it was about. As women began focusing more on strength in the sport, not just on floor but across the board especially in the 80s, they pushed for harder acro and tumbling skills, but kept the dance skills and choreo to kind of keep the event its own thing.

How do countries qualify spots for the Commonwealth Games?

Any country that is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations or one of the dependent territories can send a team to compete. In 2014, a total of 14 countries sent full teams, and a few other countries sent individual competitors. It really just depends on how many countries have enough depth to field full teams, but if a country has that depth, they can send a team.

Where are good places to buy practice leos besides GK?

A lot of gymnasts love Plum and Rebecca’s Mom Leos, and both Dreamlight and Alpha Factor are also well-known. For inexpensive leos, Discount Dance Supply has a good number of tank leos under $20.

What are negative aspects of doing gymnastics in childhood?

It depends on what you want out of childhood, which sounds funny to say, but as a kid who chose to do a production of The Wizard of Oz over going to prom and a family vacation, I wanted something different than what others may have wanted. I had a million adults being like “your prom is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!!!” but for me, what I wanted to do was once-in-a-lifetime and it was way cooler than prom. So if you’re a competitive gymnast and have to miss out on some ‘normal high school experience’ stuff, I’d say a majority of kids would consider this a sacrifice and a negative aspect of the sport, preferring to have ‘normal’ childhood experiences, but there are definitely those who don’t care about that stuff and would rather be training or competing, in which case it’s not as much of a sacrifice for them as it’d be for others.

I’ve seen a few elites who are kind of pushed into it by their parents and they end up not succeeding at that level because despite their talent, their heart isn’t in it. For anyone at an optional competitive level, it’s a huge time commitment and you basically have to be prepared to miss vacations, time with friends, and a normal school environment if you want to succeed, and if you’re a kid who wants to be a kid, you’re probably going to find this a negative aspect.

That aside, injuries are a big negative, probably more so than with other sports aside from like, hockey or football…lots of ankles and knees and elbows getting injured in gymnastics, plus there’s always the risk of serious neck/back injuries. Even though they’re rare, there are definitely freak accidents in the sport

Who was the first gymnast to start the trend of connecting a Pak to a shaposh element?

I don’t know who started it but it was probably around 2013 or so…I remember saying to someone back before it was a trend “wouldn’t it be cool to see a Pak into a Maloney?” because it would be like one full circle completed between the two bars, and she was like “yeah, never gonna happen.” HOW NAIVE WE WERE, considering now it’s all we see. If I had to guess I’d say Russia started the trend of connecting a bunch of transitional elements, including the Pak into some sort of shaposh? It’s a very Russian-style routine now…I’ll have to go back one day and watch to see when it really started, but I first recall 2013 being a big year for these types of routines. I think the first time it really dawned on me that it was a trend was seeing someone connecting six skills in a row back in 2013 or 2014 maybe? This was before I really covered international gymnastics extensively, so I hadn’t seen every routine the way I do now, but after first seeing that, I noticed it way more especially as I began covering more internationally.

Is it possible to do the Biles as a vault or a bars/beam dismount?

On vault, no. You’d have to do a Yurchenko or tsuk entry to do a backwards double layout with one and a half twists, and it’s probably physically impossible to do a double layout off the vault table, let alone one that twists. Even in MAG where double tucks and pikes are something the most powerful vaulters can do, the double layout still eludes them. The same goes on beam, where no gymnast has successfully landed a double layout dismount, and in terms of double salto dismounts with twists, fulls are the most difficult we’ve seen, so someone would first have to succeed with a double layout and then secondly, someone would have succeed with one and a half twists…and THEN someone would have to combine them. I won’t say impossible but…it kind of is. But on bars, the double layout half out would absolutely be possible, since it’s done in the tucked position and gymnasts are competing full-twisting and double-twisting double layouts, so a double layout with a half twist wouldn’t be all that crazy. I think with half twists in general on bars, gymnasts avoid them and go for a full because the landing is easier (a half twist results in a blind landing), but it’s still absolutely possible!

What happened to Flavia Saraiva from Brazil? Is she injured?

She was injured this season and though she was trying to make a push for worlds, she ended up deciding to take time off so she can stay healthy and not risk further injury. Brazil is all about the team, so they probably want to keep her healthy for 2018 and beyond so Brazil can once again get a full team to the Games.

Do you know whose floor music comes in at 0:49? It sounds familiar but I can’t put my finger on it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXH4GdqtrQM&feature=youtu.be

It sounds like one of the New Zealand girls…not Courtney McGregor or Charlotte Sullivan, I don’t think, but maybe one of the juniors. I don’t think I’ve heard it before anywhere else but could be mistaken, I’m not generally one who picks up on floor music super well!

How much do you think the Karolyis are to blame for allowing Larry Nassar to be the national team doctor for so long? How much do you think they actually knew?

Someone pretty close to the situation told me that when Bela Karolyi found out what Larry had done, he said “If I had found out I would’ve shot the bastard myself.” Bela obviously had his own history of emotional abuse, which affected many gymnasts into adulthood, so I’m not saying he’s a saint here but from what I’ve heard from many coaches and gymnasts, almost no one considers the Karolyis responsible and they all know that as tough as Martha was, they’d trust her with their lives.

I basically think the only people who have the right to decide whether Martha or personal coaches were responsible are those who experienced Larry’s abuse. A few who were in bad coaching situations and felt they had nowhere to turn because of how intense the training situation is at the ranch do blame Martha and their personal coaches for creating an environment that led to so many closed doors. This is absolutely valid and in that sense, I do think Martha is responsible.

But based on what many have said about her initial reaction after some girls were overheard discussing his methods at camp in 2015, I really don’t think she and the coaches knew what was going on, and the one coach I do know who said the treatment had been ‘described’ to her said she thought it was a legitimate procedure and she had ‘multiple’ gymnasts receive this treatment.

You have to remember that Larry was a monster who preyed on people who trusted him as an authority figure and as a medical professional, and in addition to fooling dozens of gymnasts and other athletes who sought out his help, he also fooled many adults and coaches, most of whom were sickened and horrified to find out what had happened, including Martha.

It’s kind of a slippery slope because if you blame Martha and the ‘bad’ coaches for what he did, you also have to blame the ‘good’ coaches who had gymnasts who were abused, so while there were coaches responsible for creating an environment that was the perfect breeding ground for Larry to abuse gymnasts, I think most gymnasts who were abused don’t blame them for knowing about it and covering it up, but rather just hold them responsible for that culture and environment.

I know there was one coach who was instrumental in getting Marvin Sharp ousted, and she was all about protecting gymnasts, and yet she was one of Larry’s biggest fans because she literally had no clue, and when she found out, it was basically killing her to know that her being unaware of what he was doing ultimately led to more gymnasts being abused. She blamed herself for not knowing, even though it was kind of impossible to know because he covered it up so well, but I think it’s important to put it out there that even the best coaches with the greatest intentions who fought for the safety of their gymnasts were fooled in the same way the more neglectful coaches were. So I’m hesitant to be like “it’s Martha’s fault!” or “it’s the coaches’ fault!” when literally everyone was in the dark because Larry was a predator. That was what he did. If a gymnast says “I blame Martha and my coaches” because they created what was ultimately an unsafe environment, I believe her. But if a gymnast says “I don’t blame Martha or my coaches” I also believe her. I leave it in her hands to make that decision because everyone had a different experience and deserves to have her own experience define whom she feels should take responsibility or blame. 

If anyone aside from Larry himself is objectively responsible, it’s the people at MSU who ignored the complaints against him over a decade ago, effectively enabling him to abuse dozens more gymnasts until he was finally found out at the ranch. I think USA Gymnastics also should be held responsible for initially covering up what happened and paying off gymnasts for their silence, but MSU needs to be burned to the ground. If they had done their jobs, they would’ve saved literally dozens of gymnasts from being hurt.

Do you know why the British girls left Europa?

A coach there had been emotionally and sometimes physically abusing the gymnasts dating back to 2012. As far as I know, most of the abuse was this coach using nasty language and making fun of the gymnasts, and in one instance she told someone to kill herself, and she also would do things like push gymnasts off the beam and shove them when they made a mistake…basically it was a really bad environment and had a truly negative effect on many gymnasts, which is a shame but I’m glad it finally came to light.

What are the highest scores for each event and the all-around under the post-perfect 10 scoring system?

I would say vault was most likely McKayla Maroney’s score from the Olympic team final in 2012, bars was He Kexin’s 17.3 which I believe she received at a domestic meet, and beam and floor were both in the low 16s back in the 2008 quad, though it’s awesome because Simone Biles was SO good on floor, she was getting similar scores as the best floor gymnasts in the 2008 quad even though the 2008 gymnasts got to count two additional skills in their D scores. Simone’s highest floor scores were around a 16.1 and I think the highest floor scores in the 2008 quad were around a 16.3 so the fact that Simone got so close without that extra 0.6-1.0 in her difficulty is a testament to how good she was on that event.

How are gymnasts chosen to be GK leotard models for the website and catalogues? Does it affect NCAA eligibility?

Since the U.S. women’s program has a partnership with GK, they can basically just ask the women’s program staff if anyone would like to model the leos and anyone who’s interested can do it. They don’t get paid for this, so it doesn’t affect eligibility. I believe either the gym can get payment, or the gym can get a bunch of GK gear which then goes to the models, but either way it’s done in a way that the gymnasts wouldn’t have their eligibility messed with.

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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36 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Thanks for your comments on the Karolyis and Nassar – I was definitely holding the Karolyis responsible in my mind, and I appreciate the different perspective. However, here’s the one thing I’m stuck on – Nasser should have never been alone with patients when doing these types of “treatments” – no matter how good he was at convincing everyone around that these were legitimate treatments. And – since these happened on their property – the Karolyis are at least guilty of being, at best, negligent to the point of complicity. Any thoughts on that?

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    • Oh, for sure. That’s on everyone who let it happen, though unfortunately, that’s not just a gymnastics issue…I feel like a majority of doctor procedures are handled privately without parents or other people in the room? After age 10 or so I can’t remember ever having a parent in the room with me while at a doctor’s visit, and I think it was always explained because it was ‘for privacy’ and I don’t think most parents/people in general would question it because the trust we put in doctors is so high. Many gyms and other places where kids and adults are working together have rules that state a kid can’t be in a room with just one adult as a precaution, but for some reason people don’t use these same precautions with medical professionals so I think this is something that needs a system-wide change, not just in gymnastics. That said, there were multiple instances were other people – including parents! – were in the room while these treatments were happening and he was just so sneaky, it didn’t do anything. If a kid is in a room being molested with her mom or dad a few feet away watching and not having a clue, I think it’s hard to put the blame on anyone but Larry (though I hope in the future USAG puts more of an emphasis on having medical procedures done with multiple people in a room actually paying attention to what’s going on).

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      • You bring up a lot of good points I never considered (I completely forgot that it did happen with parents in the room). The other thing I was always hung up on was the lack of gloves – that’s just medical care 101 – but I’m also tagentally relate to the medical field, so I know you never touch “subjects” without gloves (even though my subjects are not always people). I think if this wasn’t my career, and a doctor told me he wasn’t going to wear gloves, I would probably instinctively trust them.
        I do understand why doctors see young patients without their parents in the room. Most 15 year olds are not going to admit to their doctor that they’re sexually active when their parent is right there, but it’s still something a doctor really needs to know. And I keep coming back to this – once I was considered old enough to see the doctor on my own, my doctor never touched me (beyond very basic examination) without their nurse in the room.
        I guess my point is – you’ve given me a lot to think about, but I’m not sure I’m ready to let Karolyis (or anyone at USAG) off the hook.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, I still have a lot of animosity against the Karolyis though hearing what some victims have said about Martha has kind of made me rethink actively BLAMING her though I do think she should’ve been more responsible with these girls, mostly minors, in her care while traveling internationally. But again that goes back to the personal coaches as well, because shouldn’t personal coaches have more of an idea as to what’s going on than Martha, who just kind of oversees everything? As the head of the program I get why she’s the one people blame, though, but I do think that it was so hard for so many people to see through his ways, it’s hard to say that people who weren’t Larry are directly responsible…though I do fully blame USAG for a lot of what they did on the back end.

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      • Maybe not a parent, but at least where I live (UK) it would be standard practice to have a chaperone (say, a female nurse, or assistant) in the room when a male doctor does a procedure on a female patient. Even in the case of adults, not just minors.

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        • No, it isn’t, really. I lived there for a time and while I was sometimes asked if I wanted a female chaperone, it was by no means standard practice. I’ve seen plenty of male doctors and gynos in my time with no female doctor or nurse present. You sort of assume that they just wouldn’t abuse their position like that (yes, I know that’s naive).

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        • I would think in many places they have a chaperone with a male doctor but I know growing up I always only saw a male doctor. I remember my mom being in the room until I was about ten and then after that I flew solo and no one thought it was something to be concerned about. Like I never once thought about it until hearing about this Nassar stuff and how shocked people were that he didn’t have a female nurse in the room and I was like wait, that’s a thing? I literally didn’t think it was a requirement or something that was the norm.

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      • I think its also super important for all of us to remember how incredibly nuanced all of this is. Obviously Nasser is directly responsible, but it gets so tricky to figure out who is culpable. I think that only after more investigations have been completed and findings from various suits are made public that it will be easier to see what went down. All of us fans, outside looking in I am sure are only seeing 10% of the picture so who knows what happened.

        also TBH at first went I read what you said Bela’s reaction was I was like “no way”, but then I remembered those documentaries from last year so he may have….

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        • I just can’t believe that the Karolyis could’ve headed the system for north of 20 years and have not known about Nasser. Nasser was smart about covering it up, but the longevity of his time with USA gymnastics makes it close to impossible for them to have not known anything about it, also knowing that their voice would crumble the image of USAG that they created.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I know a coach who has been around Nassar since the 80s. She didn’t know. Literally not a clue. They’re from the same state and worked together way more than the Karolyis worked with Nassar. Many of her gymnasts were affected and she had not the first clue that it was happening.

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      • In my workplace, even if a male doctor sees a child with their parents, a female chaperone is usually there.
        The chaperone is “eyes on” all the time with what the doctor is doing. I am not saying that evil people can not exploit this- in the situation discussed, a chaperone could be led to believe that what the person is doing is legit.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Lauren, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Larry Nassar case, I think it’s extremely important to be talking about this on a gym site. Thanks for providing that forum.

    I think ultimately USA Gymnastics does bear a huge amount of responsibility for what happened. I think the organization needs to take a long, hard look at how it was possible that Nassar abused gymnasts for YEARS, supposedly without anyone noticing or stepping in. If truly nobody noticed anything (which I’m having a VERY hard time believing), they need to talk about how to spot red flags of possible abuse, and talk about it so often that people will remember. They need to create save ways for gymnasts to report situations where they feel uncomfortable.

    Predators thrive on their victim’s silence. So it’s really important to create an environment where victims feel empowered to speak out, because they feel that they will be believed and supported. USA Gymnastics failed hard at creating such an environment. Don’t forget that the Indy Star found decades of sexual abuse allegations at gyms. That investigation showed that USA Gymnastics has often ignored complaints, allowed coaches to continue working under its umbrella and tried to stonewall victims. So I think it’s save to say the organization has willfully refused to make their spaces save for the young, female athletes who wanted to participate in their sport. I don’t think it’s surprising that that extends to the top level of the organization as well.

    From what I can tell, USA Gymnastics created a culture where the only thing that counts is medals, and where the gymnasts are seen as expendable. They need to turn that completely around and put the safety and well-being of these young athletes at the center of what they do. That means being ready to fire powerful people to protect young, not-well-connected athletes. It means standing with victims, not abusers. From what I’m reading in the media, they are not doing a good job of that so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The music was used by Yana Demyanchuk of Ukraine in 2009, it’s called “Pupsik” and was sung by Tina Karol. Sage Thompson also used this music in 2014! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I rememeber in 2011 or 2012 seeing some local news report from the US about a girl who was doing a double layout half bars dismount, she landed it on some non competition mats, might have been mats on a pit. I couldn’t find the video again though and it was more of a half in than a hal out, but it looked super cool.

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  5. I will have to disagree on the pregnancy issue. If you continue to train actual gymnastics
    skills a bad fall can lead to a miscarriage or to an injury that needs medication unsafe for the baby.

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    • I think it is dependent on the person. The woman who trained skills 12 weeks into her pregnancy with twins was fine, but was told that 12 weeks was the cutoff. But that can obviously differ on a person to person basis, and so people should listen to their doctors about what they should physically be doing, and also probably should use common sense and not throw gymnastics skills when they’re sporting a baby bump. Falling and getting injured and potentially hurting the baby is another story, which is why a majority of people probably wouldn’t be throwing double backs casually, but the same can be said for most forms of exercise or even just going outside and existing as a human. You’re statistically more likely to be injured in a car crash while pregnant than you are while working out, and there are ways to safely train certain gymnastics skills (like into pits or while harnessed) that will keep you from falling and getting injured. Again, I’m not saying everyone should go out there and start tumbling while pregnant, and for everyone I’d be like ask your doctor and talk to your coach first, but for high-level gymnasts who want to keep up with skills training and can figure out a way to do it safely, it’s definitely something that won’t be too high-risk, not anymore than driving a car or walking on an icy sidewalk are high-risk.

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  6. I cannot speak for all CSA victims, but from my experience the predators who prey on children especially over a long period of time and have multiple victims have a certain level of control over everyone around them to allow their actions to fly under the radar. Going forward I think USAG needs to focus on their athletes wellbeing physically as well as MENTALLY. The coaches and other personnel may not have been able to see what he was doing, but I worry how many of the victims flinched or became uncomfortable when he was around them as their abuse went on and nobody knew what to look for or whether to question that behavior as abnormal. I really hope that is something that is focused on in the upcoming administration, because kids aren’t always able to verbalize what is happening to them especially when they might not fully understand it.

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  7. In response to the pregnancy question, I am pretty sure Larisa Latynina competed and won gold while pregnant. Albeit skills were a lot easier compared to today.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: It’s alive | The Gymternet

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