Olivia Karas of Michigan
It’s time for the 212th 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.
With Olivia Karas out for the season will she be able to redshirt this year?
I believe it was too late in the season for her to redshirt, since she was injured in the fifth week which is almost half the regular season. An athlete can only medically redshirt if she has competed in less than 30% of the regular season, which I think would’ve been somewhere around week four for NCAA gym (which has 12 weeks in the regular season), so she may have just missed it since she was injured at Michigan’s fifth meet. There are always exceptions, though.
What are the qualifications/guidelines for the national team coordinator position? Who are people that could be considered?
From what I’ve seen in the past, they’re looking for someone with high-level elite coaching experience, probably someone who has coached at the Olympic level, as well as someone who has worked with teams of athletes in the past, not only coached his/her own athletes. I also think it’s going to be an older coach with tons of experience, and also someone who is good at strategizing/planning for the development of athletes in general, which is the bigger part of the job here — making sure the future is set, not just focusing on the current team. I actually really want Aimee Boorman in the role, because she embodies a lot of the coaching values that most of the younger coaches have in terms of protecting athletes and valuing them as humans first and as medal-winners second, but I have no insight into whether she’d actually be up for that job or if she’s seeking it out or if USAG is seeking her out for it…it’s just a personal desire of mine. 🙂
Why does GK Elite have empowerment leos featuring Simone Biles, Nastia Liukin, and Laurie Hernandez but no Aly Raisman when she is the true leader? Is USAG influencing GK on this, since they want to downplay Aly in any way possible?
It has nothing to do with USAG. GK reached out to Aly and asked her, as one of their athletes with a signature line, if she wanted to be part of it and she said no.
Do you think Liang Chow or Mihai Brestyan will be considered for the national team coordinator role?
Chow is apparently considering a role with the Chinese national program, which seems likely to happen, and he’s never expressed any interest in a role within the U.S. program in the past so I doubt he’ll be up for the job. Mihai is currently the national team coordinator for the Australian team, so even though he was one of the coaches interested in the job in the U.S. originally, when it didn’t work out he made other plans so I don’t know if he’d like, throw that whole side of things into a mess for this job especially with the current state of USA Gymnastics.
In the new code, what is the minimum start value an all-arounder needs to be a medal contender or even just to be considered an elite all-arounder?
There is no real minimum start value to be a medal contender or all-arounder in elite. Obviously the higher the start value you have, the bigger advantage you have over the competition, but if you have a 24.0 combined start value and fall repeatedly or can’t execute cleanly, that start value really doesnt mean much. At minimum I’d say an average of about a 5.0 for each routine is a good place to be to make international finals, and the best in the world are going to be around a 22 .0 or higher total.
How is the national team committee going to choose a worlds team next year with all of the depth in the U.S.?
The way they do every year when there’s a lot of depth…choose the ones who are strongest and most consistent when the time comes. As we see every year, the depth at the start of a year ends up dwindling quite a bit by the time worlds comes around, so survival of the fittest kind of takes care of some of them, and then by the time it gets close to the competition, it’s easy to see who’s strongest and best fits the puzzle.
Are wolf turns on floor/beam named for someone in the code? I want to know who started this nonsense!
They’ve been around for a long time but basically picked up steam in the new scoring system because they offered a high difficulty value for a required dance element so gymnasts who couldn’t do the really difficult dance elements could still get a D or an E counted into that requirement. I’d say around…maybe 2009 or 2010 is when people started realizing how valuable they could be, and then the last quad is when it started getting really out of control. The 2½ on beam is named for Terin Humphrey, and the triple is named for Lauren Mitchell on both beam and floor.
Do you have a favorite floor routine of all time? If you can’t pick, a top five?
Oh god…ummmm…it changes all the time! I always include Lilia Podkopayeva in 1996 and Aly Raisman in 2012 as my never-changing faves, but more recently I’ve loved Axelle Klinckaert’s 2015 routine, Lieke Wevers in 2016, and Brooklyn Moors last year. I like a good mix of the more fun and entertaining routines and then the really seriously gorgeous and dramatic routines.
Who do you think the strongest all-arounder is in Great Britain after Ellie Downie?
I think she, Claudia Fragapane, and Amy Tinkler are all about on the same page, but they all have little ups and downs. Ellie was definitely the strongest last year, but if they’re all at top strength, they definitely all are equals, though I think Ellie has a bit more natural talent so if she’s truly at her very best (and adds some upgrades), she’d probably still stand out the most. An Olympic team with these three plus one other solid all-arounder would be so incredible if everyone is healthy all at once!
What happened to Paul Ruggieri?
He retired after the 2016 quad, I think ‘unofficially’ in that he didn’t really come out with an announcement, but you could kind of tell during the last quad that he was kind of over it…not in the sense that he didn’t like doing the sport anymore, but just in that he was always very frustrated with himself and how he was competing. He threatened to quit at least once last quad after rough performances, and while I’m thrilled he finally made it to worlds after always being an alternate, he just wasn’t ever competitive enough on his strongest events to be a leader for the U.S. team which sucks because he was so good. He just didn’t fit a lot of the team puzzles and I think he got frustrated with that so after 2016 I guess he thought it made sense for him to kind of take a break. He’s coaching now but I don’t think he’s training any longer.
Which turns and leaps from rhythmic could be competed in WAG?
Pretty much most of them…though I think a lot of artistic gymnasts lack the flexibility to do them well, considering rhythmic gymnasts train flexibility differently and are a lot ‘bendier’ than artistic gymnasts so they probably wouldn’t look as good for MOST gymnasts…though there are definitely a few artistic gymnasts who could pull off some rhythmic skills. Turns in a back scale with the body horizontal would be my favorites to make it in, and I’ve always wanted to see more ring turns. I think I’ve only seen Laney Madsen and Elizaveta Vasilieva (a former rhythmic gymnast) do these in artistic, at least in recent years. Ooh, and side arabesque turns with the back bend but again…flexibility.
Simone Biles’ D scores hold up really well in the current code. Do you think she’ll actually upgrade or will just change a few connections to make her routines more suited to this code?
I think she’ll probably just make the few adjustments she needs to fit the current requirements, like getting a front pass on floor, and then she’ll probably make a few changes on beam to take advantage of some of the new connection bonuses (like the series bonus) but she honestly won’t have to do much more than just bring back her old skills/routines to retain her queen of the world status. I would like to see her go for the Yurchenko triple this quad and maybe the triple double on floor…and then also the Fabrichnova on bars. And I’d like to see her make her Cheng her first vault (aka the vault she uses for all-around competitions) since by the time Rio rolled around, that ended up being more reliable in terms of landings than her Amanar and will definitely score better if that’s still the case.
If a genie could grant you three gymnastics wishes, what would they be?
Brenna Dowell gets an individual spot for Tokyo (or I take over the gymnastics federation in Tonga and make Brenna my only athlete so not only does she get to go to every Olympics ever but we also get to travel with Pita Taufatofua, the hot Tongan dude who goes to literally every Olympics, and Paul Ruggeri can compete for me too if he wants), Aly Raisman takes over USA Gymnastics as the CEO and national team coordinator AND still competes in every Olympics until she’s like 60 (and she also becomes president of the United States), and going off of my last answer, Simone Biles brings a triple double and a Yurchenko triple to WAG…and while we’re at it, Brenna also brings every high bar skill to WAG.
Considering what happened at worlds, do you think Ragan Smith will retire from elite or do you think she’ll stick around and try for Tokyo?
She’s definitely sticking around. If anything, getting SO close (like, as close as possible to being a gold medal all-arounder at worlds and then five minutes before it happens, having to withdraw) and then having the opportunity taken away has probably motivated her even more to come back strong. I don’t know if she’ll make Tokyo, but the possibility is there and I think she wants to see another quad through, especially because since she ended up being an alternate in Rio with very little experience and at such a young age, I think as she matures a bit and grows into herself a bit more, she can be even more of a threat with that added confidence. It’s certainly worth a try.
What was the deal with Sami Durante committing to Georgia and then going to LSU?
Her mother was the head coach at Georgia but was fired after the 2017 season. With all of that going on, Sami didn’t want to compete for Georgia any longer, and so she started looking for openings at other programs and multiple coaches reached out to her, including the coaches at LSU, so she was able to change her commitment really quickly and take advantage of that opportunity.
LSU doesn’t have any gymnasts from Louisiana. Does that mean everyone is on scholarship?
Walk-ons don’t have to be in-state gymnasts, it just usually works out that way because tuition is cheaper so if their parents are paying or if they’re taking out loans, it makes more financial sense to be a walk-on at an in-state program…but that doesn’t mean everyone is in that situation where they have to really think about financial decisions, and there are also plenty of academic scholarships out there to make up for it. I have a friend who was a walk-on swimmer in college but he had served in the military before coming to school, and so his education was fully paid for that way which allowed him to walk-on as an athlete at a school he never would’ve gotten an athletic scholarship for and wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.
LSU definitely has a few walk-ons though I don’t know every single one with full confidence. Sarah Edwards is for sure, she’s been going to the LSU camps since she was a baby, and Olivia Gunter is also a walk-on. I believe Sami Durante might be, considering she was going to be a walk-on at Georgia and then joined LSU so late in the game (I think Pittsburgh offered her a scholarship after she decided not to attend Georgia but she turned it down for LSU), and based on the rest of the names on the roster, I’d guess Lauren Li and Ashlyn Kirby are the other two.
What is the average age a gymnast turns elite if she has a chance of going to the Olympics or worlds?
In the U.S. it’s usually by age 13 or 14, though there are always some late bloomers in the game…Aly Raisman didn’t turn elite until she was 15, and Jade Carey was 17 when she made the jump and she made worlds only a few months later.
In London, Beth Tweddle’s qualifying D and E scores were the same as what Aliya Mustafina ended up winning gold with. What would’ve happened if they had tied in the event final with the same D and E scores?
In 2012, they altered the rules so that gymnasts who tied with the same D and E score wouldn’t have the tie broken, so they both would’ve gotten the gold. Prior to that, they would’ve used the E score breakdown to break the tie. With six judges offering E scores, the highest and lowest are dropped with four remaining. In the case of a D and E tie at the Olympics in 2008, they would’ve then taken those four averaged scores and dropped the lowest, averaged the remaining three, and then there’s the winner. This is what happened with Nastia Liukin and He Kexin getting the same D and E scores in Beijing, giving Kexin the gold while Nastia got the silver, but had the same thing happened in 2012, they both would’ve gotten gold. The only tie-breaker in place in 2012 in an event final was if two gymnasts got the same final score, but one had a higher E score than the other, in which case she’d get the gold and the lower E score would get silver.
Has anyone besides Valeri Liukin competed a triple back on floor successfully?
Several of the Russian men have been competing them recently, with Nikita Nagornyy’s actually looking really great for the most part. It got bumped from an F to an H in the latest code of points revamp, so it’s obviously a very attractive skill for gymnasts wanting to up their D scores.
What is your favorite SEC team?
For sentimental reasons and now also reasons related to Courtney Kupets Carter as the head coach, Georgia. I generally don’t like a lot of top SEC teams as much as others because I feel like the SEC makes things like…idk, more in your face? I don’t know how to explain that lol. But I love so many of the gymnasts on SEC teams and I’d have to say right now my absolute favorite based on current routines/skills is Arkansas, but I also grew to love Florida over the past couple of years thanks to the current gymnasts on the team, and the second Alex Hyland and Sidney Dukes joined Kentucky, I became an instant fan of that program and was so glad to see them grow so much over the past two seasons.
What are the odds of classics and nationals happening/not happening?
They’re happening. I think there might be some sort of issue with the arena for classics, but I’m not sure what that is…so we’ll see. But nationals is set and will be happening.
Would it be possible to do the Biles in a tucked or piked position?
Yup! A pike might be a bit awkward but it could totally happen, and the tucked could as well.
How do you choose a question to answer? Do you follow an order or is it completely random?
I work with people who help me input the questions into an excel spreadsheet, and they get entered in the order in which they’re received unless something is SUPER relevant to the current weeks and won’t be relevant by the time I end up answering them when I finally get to them at the bottom of the pile. Right now, there’s about a two month lag from when I receive a question to when I answer it because I get about 25 questions a day (at least) and can’t answer them as quickly as I receive them. But if something is about worlds and worlds is a week away, I’ll move it to the front of the queue so it won’t be completely irrelevant if it goes to the bottom of the queue. I’ve recently been trying to answer a lot of Larry Nassar stuff, as well as questions related to the national team situation and some NCAA questions as well. And I threw this question to the top of the queue so no one asks it again for a while. 😉
Is Pac Rims still happening? I thought it was every two years.
Yes, they’re going to be held April 27-29 in Medellin, Colombia. I don’t know if the U.S. will be sending a team, though…with everything going on and with the federation already withdrawing from other team events like Gymnix and Jesolo, I’m not sure if Pac Rims will happen, but we’ll see.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins
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