You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


It’s time for the 210th 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.

I was wondering if you knew what was happening with Bailie Key? She competed in one meet and did one beam routine, came off beam, and hasn’t been seen on the floor competing since.

I think Bailie had a hard time coming back mentally after going through her growth spurt and injury recovery following 2015, so I’d guess they gave her the chance to compete beam in the first meet this year, but then saw how competitively behind she is compared to her teammates and other gymnasts at the collegiate level, so they probably would rather just use the depth that they have and bring in good scores instead of risking her on the floor when she might not be ready. Since it had been such a long time between her last competition in 2015 and her college debut this season, she could also just be dealing with nerves and pressure, and might just need more time to handle that. It’s probably best not to rush it if that’s the case, and hopefully with another year to focus on training NCAA routines she’ll end up happy, healthy, and ready to compete next season! I’ve seen other situations in the past where a gymnast comes in as a freshman who doesn’t make lineups and can’t mentally compete, and then she continues training for another year, and she comes back a new person in her sophomore season. Hopefully that’s what we’ll see happen with Bailie.

Why did Alicia Sacramone stop competing her double piked arabian?

It probably just got to be too…not too hard for her but too hard to handle consistently and safely. When a difficult skill or skill combo disappears, this is usually the reason why, especially if someone is dealing with injuries or trying to prevent getting injured or whatever. I never heard any specifics about why she dropped it but I’d imagine it’s some combination of the above.

Simone Biles said she plans on competing two events at classics and the all-around at nationals. Since she is not currently on the national team, doesn’t she have to qualify to nationals? If she only competes two events at classics, how can she compete the all-around at nationals?

Most gymnasts who come back after a celebrated history in the sport have a bit of leeway when it comes to that. They send videos to the national team staff and the staff can decide what the plan of action will be. If they decide in advance that Simone is looking ready, they’ll probably qualify her to nationals through the videos and let her do the “two events at classics, all-around at nationals” plan. When athletes are in constant contact with the people in charge they can always work out situations like that. Nastia Liukin did the same thing in 2012, competing only beam at classics and then both bars and beam at nationals, because it was planned in advance that she’d come back in that way.

I thought I heard that the code limited a gymnast to only three of any skill such as a stoop, stalder circle, or toe-on in one bar routine. However, plenty of gymnasts do five toe-ons. What is the rule?

Yes, as of the new code the rule is that gymnasts can only have three of the same base skill counted into their total skills, so someone who does a Ray, a Church, and a toe-on to Maloney would be screwed because the toe-on entry would have already been used in the Ray, Church, and toe-on, so the Maloney wouldn’t end up counting into the D score and they’d lose 0.4 (plus any connection value that came out of it). Last quad it wasn’t a rule which is why you saw multiple toe-on or stalder or inbar or clear hips in the same routine, with Laurie Hernandez’s bars an example of a routine in which almost every skill was out of a stalder.

I think the rule came about in order to bring more variety into routines, and I haven’t seen any this year that have been too heavy on one base skill, because if they were, they’d lose a crap ton of D. Someone at U.S. nationals accidentally did an additional toe-on which ended up dropping her score immensely, and Viktoria Komova’s routine had a bunch of toe-ons at Voronin because she doesn’t have her inbars back yet, so they were kind of temporary placeholders since that meet didn’t really matter for her as something more than practice. But pretty much no one else has more than three of the same base skill right now, and if they do, it’s most likely by accident.

I read that Laura Jurca left Romania and now trains in Stuttgart and wants to challenge for a team spot. I know she was born in Munich, but you don’t have automatic citizenship for being born in Germany. Is she trying to go the Olivia Cimpian route?

I believe the rule with her was that she could decide at 18 if she wanted to get German citizenship or something? There was some sort of exemption for her as a minor born in that country reaching adulthood from what I understood, and it seems like she chose her German citizenship with the hopes of representing them internationally. I wouldn’t have said this a decade ago, but now it’s basically much harder to make the German team than it is to make the Romanian team, so I don’t know how realistic her goals are, but she must have enjoyed training there on visits or whatever. She participated in a lot of the Bundesliga meets and probably saw an entirely different atmosphere than what she was used to, so I can definitely see why she wanted a change.

Could you make a WAG Team Europe considering all gymnasts from Europe from the last quad? Could this team beat the Final Five?

I’d probably go with Aliya Mustafina, Larisa Iordache at her best, Sanne Wevers, Giulia Steingruber, and Ellie Downie off the top of my head. I don’t think they’d beat the Final Five but they would’ve gotten closer than any actual team that contended against the Final Five.

Has anyone besides Shannon Miller ever competed the Miller on beam? Would it be worth anything today?

Not that I can think of though I’m sure someone obscure that I’m either forgetting or never saw did it at some point. I’d give it probably an E? Since the Omelianchik is a D and the Miller would be a little bit harder since there’s a hop turn for the second part of the skill, I think it’s a little harder than just a back handspring ¾, but I could see the FIG rating it the same, especially since the Kochetkova is also a D and an E might be a little too generous.

I keep hearing about how screwed Romania is but if they have a decently healthy Larisa Iordache, Ioana Crisan, and Maria Holbura in the all-around, Denisa Golgota on vault, beam, and floor, and Andreea Ciurusniuc on bars, couldn’t they challenge for a team final spot?

Sure, in a perfect world, all of these gymnasts would be healthy and competing at the same time. But this isn’t a perfect world and none of these gymnasts, Larisa and Denisa aside, have been at full strength in years. The most important part of a team’s international health and strength is its depth and even if Romania did have all five of these girls healthy, in peak gymnastics shape, and ready to compete at the same time, if even one of them got injured, then they’d be in a bad place.

Was Sabina Cojocar injured in 2002? She looked really sluggish in Debrecen, especially on floor, compared to how light and effortless she looked in Ghent. Is this why she removed the Cojocar on floor?

I believe she had shoulder surgery early that year, so she was probably not in top health because that really limited her training and what she could do. She would need to generate a lot of power in the front handspring into the Cojocar, so I can see her shoulder injury really hindering her in that aspect of the skill. It would’ve been awesome to see her just punch into it, but I’m sure that’s not quite the simplest thing to do!

Since the NCAA season starts right at the beginning of January, do gymnasts (especially out-of-state gymnasts) get a proper holiday break? Or do they train all through the end of December?

Some will stay on campus since the break isn’t super long, but others will go home and just train at their club gyms so they still don’t really get a ‘break.’ Also, because the season starts the first week of January, they don’t get a true month-long winter break the way many students do. They might get a few days up to two weeks at most (depending on the school; most schools wouldn’t be giving them two weeks lol) but it won’t be a long, extended holiday break and even if they are home, they’re definitely working.

Why have the U.S. gymnasts been so great at getting Amanars in the past ten years compared to other countries?

I think because after 2008, it became clear that the U.S. needed to upgrade somewhere if they wanted to be competitive internationally, and since they had a million kids who could all easily do DTYs, the ‘easiest’ upgrade for many gymnasts would be adding a half twist and doing an Amanar to get an advantage on vault over other countries, which is still a big upgrade, but adding seven tenths (at the time the Amanar was valued at a 6.5 to the DTY’s 5.8) is REALLY hard to do on events like bars or beam or floor where you’d have to add a C and a D skill, or an E skill and a connection, or something along those lines to get the equivalent of seven tenths, when with vault all you’d have to do was add an extra half twist. For the powerful kids already with great DTYs, this was definitely a much easier upgrade than anything else would’ve been, and so kids who wanted to make the 2012 team saw an Amanar as their way of getting there.

With the U.S. juniors being so strong now, do you worry about their longevity? Will girls like Maile O’Keefe and Emma Malabuyo peak early in their careers? Are the current juniors abnormally strong or is this the new normal in the U.S.?

I think most just go for what they can when they can not knowing what the future has in store. Planning a peak isn’t an exact science, and gymnasts who hold back purposely to ‘peak’ when they’re 16 or 17 may actually miss their physical peak, which could’ve been at 14 or 15. Some gymnasts get to be their best as they get older, but others naturally peak physically when they’re younger, and so if they don’t take advantage of that, they not only miss a lot of opportunities as juniors or young seniors hoping to peak for the next Olympics, but they also then miss the competition they were hoping to peak for because nature is like “uhhhh I have a say in this too, you know.”

That’s why Aimee Boorman wanted to try to pace Simone Biles and not give her every huge skill at once, but she also knew that Rio wasn’t a guarantee and so if she was physically ready to be at her best at worlds each year, then why not just go for it? If she holds onto her peak physical condition until Rio, great, but if she doesn’t, she’ll at least get to claim that she was world champion. Girls like Maile and Emma might have reached their peak in skill ability, and/or they might have reached their physical peak, but this isn’t something we know until their careers are over and we have hindsight to be like “oh her peak was blah blah.” I think Bailie Key, who physically peaked and had her skill level peak at about 14, would’ve really regretted saving herself for when she turned 16 only to have her body be like “that’s what you think!” so she at least got to enjoy being the best junior in the world for a solid two years. That could be the case for Maile and Emma, or they could be not even close to what we might see from them, but because we have no way of knowing in advance how things will work out, I think they’re just happy to get to take advantage of opportunities as juniors and then if worlds and the Olympics is in their future, great, and if not, they will go down as fantastic juniors.

Honestly, Maile and Emma weren’t ‘abnormally strong’ juniors compared to many other top juniors in U.S. history. In the past, the U.S. had juniors who could score the same as the top seniors in the world — Jordyn Wieber in 2009 and 2010, Shawn Johnson in 2007, and many others fit that description. I actually think the junior field in recent years has been a little weak compared to prior years, and I actually thought that was great because it meant they weren’t all pushing for the most insane difficulty all at once, because there is a fine line between adding big skills and adding insane skills that you can’t compete safely, which is what a lot of top juniors did in the 2012 quad. In the 2016 quad, it was nice to see juniors hold back a little for the most part, and those who did push for big skills could at least compete them well/safely. Maile and Emma were good as juniors in 2016 but weren’t exactly capable of being close to a senior level at that point, and it was really only in the last year as they turned 15 that they began competing at higher difficulty, which I don’t think is a big deal considering in the past, the U.S. has had kids at 13 or 14 competing at a senior level.

I do worry about the longevity of some juniors, with Lexie Priessman and Katelyn Ohashi being the biggest examples of girls I couldn’t see physically lasting because they just pushed SO much difficulty SO fast, and I was equally nervous about Riley McCusker adding a billion skills last year because I didn’t think she could physically or mentally handle full points of difficulty all at once (it was sad to see her get injured but not all that surprising, and I thought the same about Lexie and Katelyn). But the way Maile and Emma slowly added new skills each year was more similar to Ragan Smith or Bailie Key, in that they were doing a respectable level of difficulty, but not in a way that was scary or worrisome. Longevity isn’t a problem when difficulty is handled safely.

Why are there so many elite gymnasts and well-known clubs in Texas? Is it because it’s closer to the ranch?

I think with the ranch opening in Houston in the 80s, it drew a lot of fellow expats to Texas because they knew the Karolyis, and then slightly later generations of expats knew people who moved to Texas because THEY knew the Karolyis…and Texas became this weird place where every former Iron Curtain gymnast and coach ended up in some way or another. Many of these people ended up opening gyms, like Valeri Liukin with WOGA, and then some former gymnasts who trained with the Karolyis remained in Texas and became coaches or opened gyms, like Kim Zmeskal with Texas Dreams, and so Texas grew into this hotbed of gymnastics in that way. Because many of the top coaches are located in Texas, kids who grow up at their gyms get top-level training and become elite-level competitors. It’s like a ripple effect with everything building off of the Karolyis opening the ranch and bringing a bunch of people to Texas in some way or another, but it didn’t have anything to do with the national training center being held in Texas currently (well, currently until a few weeks ago). No one really thought “I’ll go train at a Texas gym because it’s closer to the ranch.” They went to train at Texas gyms because many of the country’s top coaches just happened to find themselves in Texas.

Do you think Simone Biles will dominate 2018? Who could beat her both domestically and internationally?

We’ll see! If she can get back to her level in the 2016 quad, she’ll be hard to beat. But we have no way of knowing how she’s going to look and therefore it’s fruitless to say who could beat her. If she comes back and is absolutely dreadful, then juniors with a 50 AA could beat her. If she comes back at her 2016 level, then no one could beat her.

Other than Jordan Chiles’ triple turn, are there any other instances of accidental upgrades or new skills in competitions?

Yes, it happens occasionally. Ana Padurariu started doing an inbar piked Tkachev when she was 12 because her toes would always slip on her toe-ons when she was training the Church, and so she started training inbars instead. Simone Biles would accidentally do a Weiler full when she’d start to arch over while doing a Weiler half, and doing that extra half turn would be her way of correcting the arch. I love these little stories because it’s like…whoops I’m accidentally amazing.

Are there any gymnasts known for having a bad reputation or being unsportsmanlike?

Not really that I can think of…I’ve seen the occasional temper tantrum at level 10 meets, but I think those were just bad moods, not unsportsmanlike kids. I saw one kid lose her crap at the WOGA Classic about five or six years ago after she fell on everything…her mom was like “wanna stay to watch the awards” and she was like “well I didn’t WIN ANY so I don’t give a crap” hahaha. I was like damn, and it really kinda left a bad impression, but she ended up becoming a star collegiate athlete who was always there for her teammates, and so I just chalked up that little outburst to an especially bad day. I can’t think of any elites who really are unsportsmanlike, though…even gymnasts who don’t seem to really like one another are still supportive as teammates because that’s their job.

Laurie Hernandez said she was told she had to get back two skills that she had prior to being injured if she wanted to make the Olympic team. Do you know what skills she was injured on?

Her DTY on vault was definitely one…I think that was her knee injury in June 2014. Her DTY at the time she got injured was super sketchy and that’s why I always worried about her on vault but she at least got it to a solid competitive standing by the time Rio came along even if it wasn’t exactly the greatest DTY ever. I don’t know how she injured her wrist earlier that year though…I think I remember she slipped or something? Maybe it was on floor and she landed wrong?

What is the optimal size for an NCAA women’s gymnastics team?

I think 18-20 is a great size…you have 12 scholarship athletes and 6-8 walk-ons, and this way if any of the walk-ons opt to leave the program (which happens often) you’d still have a solid amount of depth with the remaining girls. I don’t get why some schools don’t make recruiting walk-ons a priority when they’ve proven to be insanely helpful to many programs…like, Michigan has a crap ton of really strong club kids in that state who could easily walk-on but in the past they’ve had 12 gymnasts max and then two girls get injured and they’re screwed. Now they have one walk-on, so they’re clearly open to it, but if I were them or any program I’d make recruiting top walk-ons my hobby just to get that depth that could very well save the team if we had a bunch of injuries or other issues.

I’ve seen teams have to count a zero on some events because they only have four gymnasts who can do bars in some weeks, and it’s like…literally just go to a local club gym in your state and recruit the best level 9 or a weaker level 10 to come in and at least give you SOMETHING on that event. All of these NCAA programs do summer camps and really get to know the kids at local clubs when they’re super young, which is why some girls in some states will ‘commit’ as walk-ons when they’re basically ten years old, because they know that’s their dream school and it wouldn’t matter who gave them a scholarship — they’d pick a walk-on at their dream home school any day. So literally just scout and recruit at these camps. It’s a win-win. I’d want to bring in five walk-ons every year just for the purpose of filling out lineups with basic but dependable routines in case everyone else gets injured.

Does an acro series on beam have to have a salto? Could someone do a back handspring to an Onodi?

Yes, an Onodi counts for an acro series as does any skill listed under the ‘acrobatics’ category in the code, which includes salto skills as well as hand support skills like back handsprings, but in an acro series at least one of the skills must show flight (so you can’t do a back handspring to a back handspring and have that count).

Is it even possible to connect a Pak to a clear hip or an inbar?

Yup! Anastasia Iliankova actually does a Pak into a clear hip half, and I can’t think of anyone who has done a Pak directly to any kind of inbar skill, but they’re definitely possible.

What did Alexander Alexandrov do to help Russia become contenders again in 2010? Was it just lucky that they had Aliya Mustafina and Viktoria Komova?

I think it was all about Aliya that year. The rest of the team did have a lot of difficulty, so maybe that was an Alexandrov thing? But without Aliya I don’t think they would’ve been anywhere near the total caliber they ended up being…they had some good individual routines in 2010, but looking back that team had a lot of weaknesses. But with Aliya on board and with the other international squads in even worse shape, they were in a great position to win the gold. Adding Viktoria to the senior field a year later also gave them some depth, and since the London team had only five gymnasts on it, they were able to take those top two superstar all-arounders, some great specialists like Ksenia Afanasyeva and Maria Paseka, and the promising new kid Anastasia Grishina, and they ended up being an awesome team that filled every role they needed filled…but if any of those five wasn’t able to compete, the depth behind them wasn’t all that hot. They basically just had a super talented group that complemented each other perfectly, and got lucky that everyone was healthy all at once when they needed to be.

What will the competition format be for the Commonwealth Games in 2018? Who do you think will win the team competition? Will the bigger countries send their best gymnasts?

I believe they’ll have the team competition serving as the individual all-around and event qualification, so it’ll be one day of team competition with four-up three-count (and I believe five total per team), and then the all-around final followed by event finals. I’ve heard a couple of top gymnasts will sit out CWGs, either because they’re focusing on other competitions around the same time or because they won’t be ready in April, but England is looking to send the best of the best, as is Australia. I think England will come in as the frontrunners, but if Canada ends up sending a top team (I’ve only heard of one gymnast who isn’t planning on fighting for a spot so she can focus on other teams), they’ll definitely be able to challenge England.

People say tumbling into a difficult vault or final floor skill generates more power than just running and punching into the skill. Why?

You build momentum tumbling from one skill to the next, which lends to a greater amount of power going into the ultimate skill at the end of the tumbling pass. It’s all about physics and the laws of motion. When a gymnast does a roundoff, the speed and force with which she hits the floor rebounds her back out with a greater amount of energy, and that energy basically builds onto the next skill, her back handspring, so she hits the ground with even more force there, and is thus rebounded back with even more additional force, so when she then punches out of the back handspring into something like a double back, she has way more more energy from the first two skills building on her mass and velocity than she would have simply launching herself into a double back from a standing position.

This is a really dumbed down version but I tried to make it so that you don’t need to really know physics terms or laws to understand it and I hope it helps. When I applied for Teach for America back in 2014, I made it to the final round where I had to demonstrate a five-minute STEM lesson on any topic I wanted to cover, so I used a video of Simone Biles’ standing double back and a video of Simone Biles’ double double in her floor routine to illustrate Newton’s Laws of Motion! #GymNerdTOTHEMAX

How awesome would it be if the U.S. sent NCAA gymnasts to Universiade? What would it take to make this happen?

It would be amazing. Since the U.S. WAG program only handles the national team, not any NCAA programs, the U.S. WAG program doesn’t really have any jurisdiction over NCAA gymnasts and so it’s harder to logistically work something out. But the USAG turns over the Maccabiah Games to people who aren’t part of the U.S. WAG program, and lets them compete as the U.S. federation in Israel because they’re not going to send a team so if someone else wants to handle sending a team, why not let them? I wish they could do this with Universiade by maybe choosing a team of NCAA coaches or assistant coaches to organize it. They could just let anyone express interest in going, and then based on regular and postseason performances all year, they could choose a handful of gymnasts who would be in consideration for the team (based on their level of difficulty in addition to how well they hit, since they’d need a higher level of difficulty to create elite routines)…it could be worked out and I wish someone would at least try to make it happen.

Which U.S. gymnasts from Rio have actually begun training for the new quad?

Pretty much all of them internationally. From the U.S. team (because I just assume all questions that don’t specifically mention a country mean the U.S. because #EntitledMurica), Simone Biles has returned to training but I think she’s the only one who’s seriously back at the moment and planning for a 2018 return to competition.

Do you think Jade Carey has the ability to become a strong all-around contender in the future?

Yup! Her bars at the J.O. level were actually quite good. I just think for her first year as an elite, she opted to focus on the events that would get her onto the worlds team, and that worked for her, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her bring out bars in the future now that she has more time. Her transition from L10 to elite was pretty rushed, so now that she’s gotten the transition out of the way, she could definitely do even more than she already has.

Do you know what became of gymnasts like Morgan Smith? Seeing girls like her with ambitions of going to the Olympics but having long been retired really makes a statement and is kind of sad.

Ugh, she was such a favorite of mine in 2010. I was so bummed to see her not only fizzle out of elite, but then also fizzle out of NCAA as well. I think she ended up leaving Michigan after her freshman year, IIRC, and left the sport completely but it looks like she entered a pre-physical therapy program at a school in Kentucky so hopefully she’s happy doing something she loves outside of the sport.

What is the name of the skill Shannon Miller does (twice) at 26 seconds? How much is it worth? It’s so cool!

That little series there is a back extension roll to handstand, which is worth a B. Very cool, and it’s rare that we see easier acro elements in routines now that gymnasts have to build as much difficulty as possible in that limited amount of time, so the cool little acro skills tend to get ignored…but occasionally you’ll see them from gymnasts who don’t have lots of difficulty in their routine

Is MyKayla Skinner getting a new floor routine for NCAA this year?

Yup! She has a new routine and it’s a really fun one.

What collegiate gymnastics programs are your favorite?

Oklahoma has been my long-time favorite, way before they started winning. Then they kept adding in gymnasts I loved so much from elite or J.O., and then they became a super winning program, and I’m just loving life seeing them kill it now at literally everything. I love their artistry, their consistency, their difficulty, the fact that they can still handle their difficulty with really nice execution…they’re goddesses of perfection. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT? I also really love Arizona State, Arkansas, Oregon State, Washington, UCLA, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Central Michigan, Temple…and probably every single school that exists but these are the ones that just jumped into my brain right this second.

When did Martha Karolyi officially announce that Rio would be her last competition as the national team coordinator? Was it after all of the Larry Nassar stuff started? Is this why she retired?

She actually said leading up to 2012 that London would be her last…but then I think as she realized she still had a really strong program in her hands, still had the energy and passion to keep going, and could see even more success in 2016, she backed out of that decision and said in 2012 shortly after London that Rio would be her last. It was in no way connected to Larry Nassar. No one at the ranch knew about what was happening with Larry until 2015, and she had been saying for three years at that point that 2016 was it. Maybe had the stuff with Larry not happened, she would’ve extended again? But she’s also a 75-year-old woman, well beyond the ‘normal’ retirement age, so I can see why she was ready to go in 2012…and I can also see why she wanted to keep sticking around despite her age.

Has anyone gotten a perfect 40 under the 10.0 system other than Mostepanova?

Not internationally that I know of…probably someone somewhere did it domestically, and in NCAA, Karin Lichey did it as a freshman in 1996 which isn’t the same as doing it in elite but still a fun little fact to share. 🙂

What would happen if a gymnast sneezed in the middle of a routine, especially beam or floor? Would they get a deduction?

I would imagine on floor they might be able to cover it up with choreo, hahaha…on beam, hopefully judges would be kind and realize that they didn’t mean to sneeze randomly in the middle of a routine. There’s nothing in the code that says “one tenth deduction for bodily functions” so if they just happen to be mid-choreo or something, I doubt judges would be like “BAM, DEDUCTED.” Biologically speaking, adrenaline and your body’s stress response involves a reduced immune response, so a gymnast competing on beam or floor would definitely have an increased level of adrenaline which would suppress the body’s urge to sneeze. This is likely why we’ve never really seen this happen at any competition.

A gymnast born on August 14, 2004 can’t compete at Tokyo in 2020, right?

Yes she can. Any gymnast born December 31, 2004 and earlier can compete in Tokyo. A gymnast who is 15 during the Olympic Games but turning 16 later that year is still eligible.

Are Kylie Dickson and Alaina Kwan still considered to be citizens of Belarus?

Yup! Kinda cool considering they’ve never even been there. #Casual

Is there such a thing as a whip half? What would it be worth?

Yes, a whip half is a thing, and it’s rated a B on floor. You see quite a few whip half skills into layout fulls or similar simpler acro in NCAA, and Bart Deurloo has a really cool whip half into a piked double front on floor in MAG! You hear that, BRENNA? HINT HINT.

Has Aly Raisman ever trained or tried the Dos Santos II?

She has probably tried it out but I don’t think she has ever trained it seriously. She likely tried it out with the hopes of one day training it seriously but it’s such a hard skill, I doubt she or many others would be like “why yes, this would be a consistent easy skill for me to do in my routine!”

Do you know if Gabby Perea will compete in the all-around next year? Why didn’t she compete it in 2016?

Gabby injured her ankle at the last camp before classics/nationals last summer and was going to withdraw completely, but was feeling strongly enough that she was able to come back and compete just bars without exacerbating the injury. If she’s fully healthy, she will be back in the all-around this year, and I believe she is hoping to get the second American Cup spot since it’s basically in her backyard. We shall see what happens!

Is the flick with the half on beam called an Onodi or a Mostepanova? Everyone in Romania calls it a Mostepanova.

It’s in the code as an Onodi but I believe Mostepanova was the first to actually do it in competition. Rules about the naming of skills were sketchy at best in the early 80s, so while I believe Mostepanova introduced it in 1984, at the competition where she got the perfect 40, I’m guessing she never submitted the skill to the judges to officially make it ‘her’ skill, slash when she first competed it, it was at the Friendship Games which weren’t like, an official worlds kind of meet so that could have something to do with it? When Onodi did it years later, she DID submit it, and she got it named. Officially it’s the Onodi but I think we all know who did it first.

Why didn’t Danell Leyva compete in NCAA?

He decided to go pro rather than attend a collegiate program which is rare but if a male gymnast is spotted as a potential big talent at an early age, they’ll have opportunities to go pro that don’t normally exist for 18-year-old guys in the sport (at least in the U.S.). John Orozco was another who went pro instead of going to college. I think for the men, this is kind of a loss because those opportunities to go pro are still there after college, and while you’re competing at the NCAA level in MAG, you learn so much about being on a team…you’re kind of an odd man out if you go pro early.

Do you think Zoe Gravier might go elite this year? Is Riley McCusker otherwise the only elite at MG?

I think her plan is to eventually go elite but I’m not sure if she’s doing it this year or next. Zoe is competing L10 at the moment, but she still has a number of elite qualifiers open to her this year to get her elite scores so we’ll see. Riley is otherwise the only elite at MG at the moment.

Could six people from one country do all-around in 2020 qualifications?

Yes, all six people competing for one country (the four on the team and the two individual competitors) could do the all-around in qualifications in Tokyo.

Is there a deduction for going out of bounds on beam?

There isn’t really an ‘out of bounds’ on beam…gymnasts who stumble off the mat on the dismount would get deducted for taking a huge number of steps and a wild lack of control on their landing, but there’s no neutral penalty for OOB on beam in the way that there is on floor.

What is the hardest skill ever done in NCAA gymnastics?

Probably the double double or double layout full on floor…and if Kennedy Baker ends up doing the Dos Santos II, she can add her name to that list. On beam, probably the standing full or arabian, and the double pike dismount is also really tough…and I think Toni Ann Williams did her double front dismount in NCAA too, right? That would count. For vault, I’d go with the DTY…and on bars, probably the counter Kim for releases, and maybe the full-twisting double layout dismount…I don’t think anyone has done a Ray or a Fabrichnova dismount in NCAA but I could be wrong!

Is Sophia Groth from Chow’s not doing elite?

I’m not sure…she competed level 10 last season and looks like she’s still competing level 10 this year, but it’s possible she’ll do elite in the future?

Why don’t we see many Markelovs anymore? Is it just not rated high enough to attempt it?

We see them a pretty solid amount, I’d say…it’s probably just not a super popular skill in general because every coach knows how to teach Jaegers and Tkachevs no problem at this point, but a Markelov requires a different kind of skill progression and since at a lower level everyone’s learning the other two skills (and the Gienger I guess) in an almost factory kind of way, the Markelov requires coaches to change up the kind of drills they’re doing, and I think most coaches just like to stick with what they know works unless they get a kid who really likes to play around with the kind of skills she does, which does happen on occasion, in which case those gymnasts will try skills like the Markelov. Internationally, we see a few of them each year, and there are quite a few J.O. kids who do them…it’s just not as popular as the Jaeger or Tkachev for the reasons I mentioned above.

Do you think anyone will ever do a double pirouette on bars?

It’s definitely possible and would be cool to see…but I think a lot of the one-and-a-half pirouettes on bars end up looking like they do the first pirouette, pause, and then throw in the last half, so it’d probably look like a full, pause, and then another full, and maybe there’s some concern about not having enough time to get the second one fully around without being really late, thus bringing in deductions? Since the max for pirouettes is an E, most probably don’t bother with a double because they can just do another easier E skill and have it look much less janky. But it’d still be cool to see someone try it.

Why did Gabby Douglas and Viktoria Komova get rid of their Amanars?

They basically both grew after 2012 and neither was able to get her Amanar back in time for when they needed it in the 2016 quad in a way that would’ve gotten them high scores. Gabby tried hers a couple of times in training but would’ve gotten more deductions than it was worth, and Viktoria needed a lot of work to get her DTY back, let alone an Amanar. It’s hard to come back to the sport after a couple of years off at several inches taller and get back really hard skills that you learned when you were tiny. Most can’t retrain these big skills with a taller body, so it wasn’t surprising that they both struggled getting this back.

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 ask “what do you think of [insert gymnast here]?”

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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69 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. “But the way Maile and Emma slowly added new skills each year was more similar to Ragan Smith or Bailie Key, in that they were doing a respectable level of difficulty, but not in a way that was scary or worrisome. Longevity isn’t a problem when difficulty is handled safely.”

    Texas Dreams FTW! (Yes, I know Maile trains elsewhere…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love TD but I think they have quite an injury record with juniors that are amazing not turning out at senior level. (Bailie Key, Deanne Soza, Abi Walker, …)


      • Deanne Soza isn’t from TD, she’s from Arete and moved to TD because she wanted to take it easier and her coaches at her old gym wouldn’t let her. Bailie had an injury recovery and growth spurt simultaneously — bad timing. And Abi Walker isn’t injured nor was she a junior expected to do big things at the senior level; she was decent but never had big skills or a high ability for difficult elite gymnastics and was basically competing as a slightly elevated Level 10 in the way Macy Toronjo did with TD.


  2. Ugh, if Laura’s plan was to make teams in Germany, GOOD LUCK! I could have seen her making teams in Romania for bars, but in Germany, HAHA no way! Germany is one of the best bars countries in the world.

    Russia had good routines such as Nabieva on bars and vault, Semenova on beam, Afanasyeva on beam and floor, but without Aliya, they would have had some huge holes in their team #BlessyouAliya

    Also, about the Dos Santos II, KENNEDY BAKER!


  3. If I’m correct Sabine Cojocar had to retire due to a chronic liver problem; symptoms of liver disease include fatigue/lethargy which may be the reason she wasn’t performing with her usual energy at that meet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I always thought a Markelov was only named as such in the MAG code. I was under the impression that the same release skill in WAG is known as a Khorkina, but I hear most commentators using Markelov. Am I wrong, then?


  5. FIG should strip the US from all medals obtained during abuse i.e. all medals since 1980’s. Give Russia team gold in 1996, 2012 and 2016, give Khorkina AA gold in 2004, Komova AA gold in 2012 and Aliya AA gold in 2016. Before you say it was not the girls fault and they should if anything be celebrated for winning despite the abuse, I’m sorry but change will only happen if you take away the medals which were the reason for the abuse.


    • Good idea! We should definitely take away every Soviet medal while we’re at it. Romanian, too! And East German. Any Iron Curtain country, really. And Swiss! They’ve had abuse allegations too, as have the British very recently. Just take them all away, really.

      Liked by 4 people

    • It’s actually pretty disgusting to even joke (because this is too ludicrous to be anything but a joke) about using this situation as a basis for giving Russia gold medals they didnt earn. “Give Russians the Gold”
      …because “change”? Strip victims of medals and titles they rightfully earned BECAUSE they were abused? What kind of sick person thinks that’s okay?

      And medals weren’t the reasons for the abuse. Abusers were the reasons for the abuse. Single-minded focus on medals enabled the abusers, but the abusers are the ones who took advantage of the situation. To suggest otherwise takes the responsibility for the abuse from those who perpetrated it.

      Liked by 3 people

        • Good try but Soviet Union never abused its gymnasts, let alone sexually. I challenge you to report on one single incident of abuse in USSR. Yes, there were gymnast and coaches who were too ambitious like Muskhina but accidents happen and that is not abuse. You could feel their passion in their gymnastics whereas US gymnasts look like robots. So did most Romanians, from where the US imported the abuse. You may laugh now but let’s see whose gymnastics programs will be shredded to pieces over the next years.


  6. “Which U.S. gymnasts from Rio have actually begun training for the new quad?

    Pretty much all of them internationally. From the U.S. team (because I just assume all questions that don’t specifically mention a country mean the U.S. because #EntitledMurica), Simone Biles has returned to train.”

    Question literally specifies US though? Haha. Or did you add that in?

    Thanks for an interesting post!

    Also, still at a loss for McMurtry’s double 10s that was very not 10s. Maggie was robbed if that was the standard for a 10. I adore McMurtry don’t get me wrong but how can judges be so.. bad?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Regarding CWG, I think Canada should be a pretty strong team this year. A team of Ellie Black, Ana Padurariu, Brooklyn Moors plus a couple of specialists could do very well.
    Wales could round out the podium, but I don’t know if anybody else would actually be in the mix for team medals.


    • To be honest, I’ll be surprised if Canada doesn’t win this year. Ellie Black, Ana Padurariu, Brooklyn Moors, Shallon Olsen and Rose Woo (she’s been improving so I think she’s still in the picture)/Isabela Onyshko are better than the current British team.


        • I don’t know if there is room for two bars people on the GB team. CWG is three-per-country in the AA. GB are most likely going to want to qualify Claudia in (as reigning CW champ) and oviously Ellie as the strongest gymnast. If both Georgia and Becky do bars, that again leaves Amy out of the AA like she was in Rio. Of course, Georgia could do AA, but I think they’d want Amy, the stronger gymnast in that spot.
          I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Fenton or Downie, but not both, and one of Taeja James or Alice Kinsella taking the last spot to plug gaps.

          This is all my own thoughts and I’m probably way off base- we’ll find out pretty soon anyway!


  8. The double pirouette is on the code of points, it’s been done before, you can find it at bars pirouette guides on Youtube. It’s done from a simple giant and worth the same as the one and a half twisting giant.


  9. In response to the European team question, I made a team myself.
    Larisa Iordache (2014)
    Aliya Mustafina (2016)
    Becky Downie (2015-16)
    Giulia Steingruber (2016)
    Catalina Ponor (2016)

    VT: Larisa, Aliya, Giulia (Alt: Catalina)
    UB: Becky, Larisa, Aliya (Alt: Giulia)
    BB: Catalina, Aliya, Larisa (Alt: Becky)
    FX: Catalina, Giulia, Larisa (Alt: Aliya)

    As you can see, I kept Aliya and Larisa, because obviously, and Steingruber to beef up the power events. Ellie Downie would be a lovely team member, but their bars lineup is just mediocre with Larisa and Ellie both simply ok bar workers. I switched out Ellie with her sis, Becky, which bolsters the bars lineup. While Sanne has a great beam, she only has one usable event. Also, when Ellie was removed, we needed to fill a spot on floor! Who’s good at both beam and floor? CATALINA PONOR! Boom. And no, that team couldn’t beat the final five, unless they fell all over the place.


    • Interesting line-up. You might actually switch Catalina with Amy Tinkler but the difference would be minimal. Let’s see:
      VT: Giulia = Aly; Aliya = Laurie/Gabby; Simone > Larisa for +1.0
      UB: Aliya = Madison; Becky = Gabby (assume their best); Simone = Larisa
      BB: Larisa = Simone (have to count on Larisa sticking back tuck full); Laurie > Catalina for +0.5; Aliya’s beam in 2016… really? Better go with Becky +1.0
      FX: Simone > Larisa +1.0; Aly > Catalina +1.0; Laurie = Giulia

      Would be a close game until floor though, especially beam would be very unpredictable. Entertaining to watch!


      • Although lari may be inconsistent the only times she has let her team down on beam in a major TF was 2012 europeans and with all due respect she was touted as the new nadia and at her first major senior comp, but since then she has gotten her shit together: 2012 OLYMPIC TF 15.300 (her highest score of olympics, 4th highest of olympics on beam. 2014 Euros 14.700. 2014 Worlds TF 15.500, literally the most solid, angry beam routine ever and this happened when she was under HUUUGE pressure as Alina Stanila had just fallen and it was the last routine of the night and tjey were fighting Russia and Italy for bronze also the Highest BB score in both total, and E score in 2013-16, excluding 2016 olympic crack judging. My point is Lari does her best for the team.


      • My team: (included munteanu instead of sanne because rio judging was whack so i bet if munteanu gets 15.2 in 2014 it would be closer to 15.55 in Rio including upgrades)
        Larisa Iordache (2014)
        Aliya Mustafina (2016)
        Andreea Munteanu (2014)
        Ellie Downie (2015)
        Maria Kharenkova (2014)

        Vt: Ellie, Aliya, Larisa (alt: Andreea)
        Ub: Larisa, Ellie, Aliya (alt: Maria)
        Bb: Maria, Andreea, Larisa (alt: aliya)
        Fx: Andreea, Ellie, Larisa (alt: Aliya)


      • i would switch out becky for Komova. She can contribute on all 4 events besides maybe vault right now. Aliyas BB in 2016 was great, she always got around 15 on that. she only messed up in Rio, every other competitions were great (she also won gold at europeans). I also wouldn’t say that simone is equally good on beam as Larisa. Larisa is better by 0.3 – 0.5 in my opinion.


  10. “No one at the ranch knew about what was happening with Larry until 2015…”

    We do not know this to be true. Gymnasts/survivors have specifically called into question whether the Karolyis knew what Nassaro was doing but allowed it to continue anyway. Some of these statements were made to Fox News in a recent interview given by Jeanette Antolin, Jamie Dantzscher, and Mattie Larson.

    I believe the Karolyis still have not issued a statement nor responded to the allegations against them in court (which is not uncommon in a case of this magnitude where the attorneys must first seek dismissal of the lawsuit before a responsive pleading is filed or forfeit their clients’ right to such relief). But this means they haven’t even denied having knowledge of the rampant sexual abuse of gymnasts on their property. In any event, the question of the Karolyis’ knowledge (and the knowledge of other adults at the ranch) certainly remains unanswered.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is clearly going to be a bit question in the coming weeks, so I’ll just say this now: coaches who knew what Nassar’s treatment entailed did not necessarily know that it was abuse. There were so, so many people, including parents, who where convinced that Nassar’s form of digital penetration was a real medical procedure.

      Every single person at the ranch, every single USAG certified coach, should have been trained to know that Nassar shouldn’t have been seeing gymnasts alone, that he should have been using gloves and lubricant if it were really a medical procedure, etc. But they weren’t. So we can’t call for their heads in hindsight just because they knew that gymnasts were digitally penetrated.

      The fact that a coach overheard gymnasts describing the procedure doesn’t necessarily mean that they were aware that it was abuse and covering it up.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Re the sneezing thing – I’m always surprised at how few things like that you see in gymnastics. Apparently it’s super common to pee a little when tumbling, but I’ve never seen any…evidence. Or like, boogers, or anything like that. There was one Japanese gymnast at last Worlds who got a nose bleed when tumbling and they had to wipe the spots of blood off the floor, out of how many hundreds of gymnasts who did quals?


  12. Concerning men choosing turning pro as opposed to college:

    NCAA limits the amount of time an athlete can spend training, both pre-season (with college staff) and during the season. If an athlete shows promise at a young age, and the ethos of his gym is that time in the gym will improve that talent, it would make sense to turn pro and keep training on that schedule rather than go NCAA and limit training to 20 or so hours per week.


  13. Regarding the question about which gymnasts from Rio have begun training for the new quad, and your answer, “Pretty much all of them internationally. From the U.S. team (because I just assume all questions that don’t specifically mention a country mean the U.S. because #EntitledMurica),”….. The question *did* specify “U.S. gymnasts.”


  14. So, maybe someone here can answer this question…it’s not related to this post, but a question about the American Cup format… so I know that it’s a single day competition and it’s all about the all around. However, I’m wondering, are individual events won or lost, too?? Say, for example, this year Mai does fabulous on floor and gets the top score there, but totally messes up on the other apparatuses (God, I hope not, I want her to do fabulous on EVERYTHING and get in the TOP THREE!!!) but say she didn’t make top three AA, would she still get a “gold” for floor if she had the highest score there? Or do the individual event scores not matter at all and it’s only the all around that matters in the American Cup?


  15. Mostepanova did the Onodi at the 1983 Worlds– who knows how these things worked!

    Also, WHO DID COUNTER-KIMS IN NCAA!??!? I need this information now!

    As for whether anyone has done a clear-hip out of a Pak, Kurbatova did a Khorkina transition (that issue rears its head here too!) in 2009 and it was glorious:


  16. Mostepanova definately did the beam move at the 1982 USSR Cup. However I’m pretty sure that I saw her do it at the 1980 Coca Cola International when she was only 11 or 12 – but the video of her beam has not survived (her floor is very cute)

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Thanks for a scientific explanation for why I don’t sneeze when I perform on stage, even when I have allergies. Adrenaline FTW. #laurenfactsftw


  18. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: Put it on ice | The Gymternet

  19. I’m pretty sure Steliana Nistor accidentaly did a double pirouette on bars at 2006 worlds during TF, but unfortunately I can’t find a video on youtube, there’s only her AA and EF bars routine. But I could swear she did that at these worlds.


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