You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


Sanne Wevers

It’s time for the 213th 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.

Why did Sanne Wevers not get the CR for back tumbling in Montreal even though she had the layout stepout mount?

A mount is not the same thing as acro. Elements are part of specific groups in the code, and so you can’t do a layout stepout mount and have it count as your backwards acro because a mount is not acro — it’s a mount. Even though you’re technically doing the same thing whether it’s a mount or in the middle of your routine, the layout stepout mount is considered a different element from the layout stepout acro element.

We always hear about gymnasts skipping family vacations, working out 35-40 hours a week, and having no life outside the gym. When does this typically start?

It depends on the athlete, gym, and coach. I know of some girls on level 3 teams whose gyms require them to home school, which to me is absolutely insane. The crazy training hours usually don’t come in until elite (even the best level 10 programs usually keep training for that level closer to 20 hours or fewer) but some gyms do get really demanding with like, scheduling vacation time and homeschooling and all of that stuff really early in the team process while other gyms will let the gymnasts and their families have more autonomy as long as it doesn’t interfere with their training. One rule for some gyms is that the ONLY outside of school activity can be gymnastics, but I know high-level girls at other gyms who play other sports or do theater/music/dance and it ends up being really good for them because they become more well-rounded and balanced, and it takes some of the pressure off with gym. I liked seeing the story about Trinity Thomas taking up diving recently…kudos to her gym coaches for letting her do that, and kudos to her diving coach for realizing that gym comes first but working with her anyway!

What is the progression of time requirement through the levels assuming someone wants to be a successful collegiate and/or elite athlete?

Again, it varies based on the kid and on the gym. Jordyn Wieber was a successful elite who reached level 10 and then qualified elite at age 10, which is the earliest age possible. Jade Carey is also a successful elite, and she didn’t compete level 8 until she was 12, was then a level 9 from age 13-14, and then started level 10 at 15 and qualified elite at 17. What was right for Jordyn probably wouldn’t have been right for Jade, and vice versa, so coaches generally try to take each kid’s abilities and personalities into account. Some coaches do have rules that say something like “you have to reach level 10 by the time you’re 10-11 if you want me to take you elite” but others are definitely more lenient and are able to kind of personalize it better. On average, you see kids who are level 10 by the time they’re 12 and then elite by the time they’re 13-14 succeeding most at the elite level, but with Jordyn and Jade, they were both able to find success by doing what worked for them.

When you look at Jade Carey’s double double, would you say it’s one of the highest and fastest-twisting? Is it the best in the world?

It’s definitely up there, yes. It’s so quickly-twisted I could definitely see her getting a triple double around with no problems with her rotation.

In your opinion, why would USA Gymnastics/MSU not have immediately fired Larry Nassar over a decade ago?

It seemed like in most cases where Nassar was investigated, people legitimately believed that he was doing actual medical procedures. One doctor who worked directly with Nassar at MSU and who was on the board of doctors who cleared him during his Title IX investigation came out and said that this was a legitimate treatment and that the woman who was complaining was just “confused” about what is treatment and what is abuse. He fooled everyone, including doctors who practiced the same kind of osteopathic medicine, so of course decision-makers at USAG and MSU were also fooled and that’s why they didn’t ‘immediately’ fire him — because the people in charge thought it was legitimate and necessary and no one really questioned it.

But the actual shocking part to me is the fact that MULTIPLE  girls, not just one, came forward and said “hey this treatment is weird” and MULTIPLE times people cleared him without thinking it was odd that he was doing this same rare treatment super often. I could see it and forgive it happening once, but repeatedly over two decades? And not one person was like “uhhh why on earth is he doing this treatment to literally everyone when it’s really not medically necessary aside from a few extreme cases?” The old saying “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” has been at the front of my mind for this case because really, how on earth could medical professionals and other adults hear of this going on all the freaking time and think that hundreds of girls required this treatment that most other doctors had never even performed once? So I can see how people at USAG and MSU were both fooled the first time but I have no clue how after hearing about it repeatedly didn’t result in him being fired.

I do think lack of communication was a big problem, though. One girl at MSU told her softball coach and another told her gymnastics coach early on, and both were like “it’s nbd” and didn’t compare stories, which makes it hard to see just how often it’s happening. On top of that, MSU wasn’t sharing stories with USAG and vice versa. Had MSU said “heads up, we cleared him but be on the lookout” in 2014, USAG could’ve investigated a year earlier than they did, and had USAG said “heads up, we’re investigating, be on the lookout” in 2015, MSU could’ve fired him a year earlier than they did. This lack of communication at every level created literally dozens of victims that could’ve been avoided, so even if they were legitimately fooled early on in the process, the later victims are their responsibility.

Do you think USA Gymnastics will survive the sponsors fleeing the program in addition to potential lawsuits brought on by the Larry Nassar scandal?

I can see them filing for bankruptcy and having to create a new federation, but I think since the program is so successful, the USOC would definitely step in to ensure that it doesn’t just collapse into dust. Like, it’s gonna be financially insane for them, but in some form or another they’ll survive it.

Is a double layout dismount off beam possible?

It is if you’re super small and super powerful, enough to get the rotation of your body around twice with limited height coming off the beam. Some have trained it, like Catalina Ponor, but for most, rotating a double pike is hard enough. It’s not IMPOSSIBLE but it’s definitely insanely hard and there are probably like two people on earth who could actually land it.

Why don’t we see Shushunovas out of tumbling passes anymore? Seems like the perfect way to get some CV while having an excuse to drop to the floor to cover up a questionable landing.

Shushunovas are only an A so they only get CV when done out of an E pass (or higher) and it’s easier to get that 0.1 CV doing a simple split jump or straddle jump than doing the Shushunova. It’s actually rare to see this E+A mixed connection on floor because for most, an E pass is hard enough on its own…we’re talking like, double arabians, double fronts, triple fulls, piked full-ins, double layouts…I can only think of a handful of people who have connected these passes to even the simplest dance elements over the past few years because it’s hard. Gymnasts doing simpler tumbling passes could still do a Shushunova out of them and not get any bonus, but I think most would rather just work on clean landings than connecting something that wouldn’t be worth anything and could go awry. A Shushunova looks like you’re just bailing out of a landing and dropping to the floor, but the straddle jump is a great way to get deducted, as is the Shushunova landing itself, so if you’re not getting any CV for a D+A mixed series, and you’re then getting deducted on your straddle form and your front support landing, it makes more sense to just take whatever landing deductions you’d get out of your tumbling itself.

Do you think there’s a realistic chance that Asuka Teramoto will win a world or Olympic beam medal before this quad is over?

God I hope so. 2017 was really her year and it legitimately could’ve happened for her on beam had she not made those mistakes in the final. I was crushed! But hopefully she continues to do well on that event in qualifications and has more opportunities to earn medals.

Say a gymnast is a true freshman on a college team. She decides she no longer wants to attend college after her first year, but two years down the line — say at 21 — she decides she wants to go to college and start from scratch academically, and she still has the skills to get a scholarship. Would she start on another team as a freshman but only get three years of eligibility?

Correct. She might be a freshman in terms of where she is credits-wise, but she would be considered a sophomore in terms of her NCAA eligibility.

What would Natalia Ziganshina’s bars dismount from worlds in 2001 be in today’s code?

I can’t see it being worth anything more than an A, honestly…maybe a B max. It’s a cool element but not super difficult.

Is Giulianna Pino from UCLA on scholarship? How did Pauline Tratz get recruited? Is Gracie Kramer’s vault supposed to be tucked?

No, from what I’ve heard Giulianna is not on scholarship. Pauline started looking into a number of collegiate programs on her own and reached out to a few schools she was interested in to see if they’d take her (from what I know, multiple schools wanted her but she chose UCLA). I believe Gracie goes back and forth between tucking and laying out the 1½. Both are out of a 10 so it doesn’t really matter but I believe she sometimes struggles with the layout and so just intentionally tucks it when she’s not at 100% (and the judges know which one she’s attempting with whatever number she flashes beforehand so they know to deduct if her knees are bent on an intended layout, though that’s never really been an issue…it’s pretty clear when she’s tucking and when she’s doing a layout).

Are there rules about what equipment gymnasts can bring with them to keep beside the podium? Could they have a practice beam?

I don’t know if there are written rules that say “no practice beams allowed” but there are rules about apparatus/equipment only being allowed in the training gym for major international (FIG) competitions, so while some smaller invitationals or whatever might allow for a practice beam, there could be a 0.3 penalty that would fall under “other undisciplined behavior” violation if a gymnast brought a practice beam with her to worlds.

Could you explain the Canadian gymnastics program below elite? Is it similar to the U.S.?

Yes, the Canadian federation actually adopted the J.O. program from the U.S. in 2015. Known as the Canadian J.O. program (or CJO), there are some modifications (mostly with what is required at some levels and they also allow for a coach to stand under the bars for the entirety of the performance unlike J.O. in the U.S.), but for the most part they use the J.O. rules almost exactly. Gymnasts who are successful at the J.O. level can transition to High Performance (HP), which is elite and elite developmental competition, including their Aspire program, which is similar to developmental camps and Hopes in the U.S.

Are commentators allowed to work for multiple networks?

It depends on what their contracts say, but most are contracted on a per-meet basis, in which case they can commentate for one network for one meet (or season of meets) and then move on to another network. I think the trio for NBC are only allowed to commentate for those meets because they’re on multi-year contracts, but like, when Yahoo Sports brings in Shannon Miller for the Olympics or when ESPN brought in Courtney Kupets for Pan Ams, those are a different story and those commentators are free to work for other networks once those jobs are over. I wasn’t a commentator for NBC but I was contracted by them in a similar way and it was for three weeks of work just related to Rio 2016, and I still had permission to update my own website, write for SB Nation, and give expert interviews for CBC.

What happened to Caitlin Cole of Alabama? She was a freshman last year but isn’t listed this year.

She was a walk-on and probably just decided not to continue as a walk-on after her freshman season. This is pretty common for walk-ons, often because the time commitment can be a bit much considering they’re not competing, and if they have or develop interests outside the gym, which is usually the case, they often just end up moving on.

I saw a video of Olga Mostepanova doing an Onodi on beam in the early 80s. Why is it an Onodi when its namesake started performing it years later?

Rules about the naming of the skill were sketchy at best in the early 80s, so while Mostepanova introduced it, I’m guessing she never submitted the skill to officially make it ‘her’ skill. Also, I believe the competitions where she did the Onodi (the USSR Cup, the Friendship Games, etc.) may not have been official competitions where skills could be named…the rules might have been different then than they are now, but considering she didn’t get it named for her, it was either because she didn’t submit it or because she never did it at an official competition.

Why are there so many competitions that occur after worlds? Wouldn’t it make sense for worlds to be the conclusion of the season? It seems like the U.S. ends with worlds but so many other meets are held late in the year.

The U.S. is literally the only country that ‘ends’ its season post-worlds because that’s how they operate with worlds or the Olympics their only real ‘big’ competition each year. Most other countries have multiple ‘big’ competitions each year that they want to impress at, and so they might choose a different hiatus period, taking a few months at the start of the new year rather than cutting short immediately after worlds. Also, most of the competitions after worlds offer money to competitors, either because competitors are paid to compete, or because there is prize money available. Gymnasts who earn a living competing might not be big names at worlds, and so while they attend worlds as the best in their country, they really like to gear up for some of the post-worlds competitions where they have a shot at medals and money. The only month of the year that is generally competition-free is January. Just because the U.S. likes to start building up in March or April and to peak six months later to win world medals doesn’t mean that this is every country’s priority or way of doing things. A majority of countries have vastly different priorities and what works for the U.S. wouldn’t work for them at all.

Do you think the potential/usability of connection bonuses on floor is less than on bars or beam? Or do you think it’s pretty even across all three?

I think beam has the most potential for it, and then bars and then floor I guess…in that order. There are bonuses that exist on floor but I don’t think they’re taken advantage of in the way that the beam connections are, probably because it’s harder to physically do most of the floor connections for many gymnasts who struggle with the endurance it takes just to do three or four tumbling lines. Adding in connection bonuses with punching out of passes or doing leaps out of them might just be too much for most, whereas on beam it’s physically easier to get through skills.

I noticed Julianna Cannamela lays one hand directly on top of the other for her handsprings on beam. Is there a reason a gymnast would prefer this hand placement over a side-by-side one or one in front of the other? It seems less common and uncomfortable!

It’s just a different technique, which she probably picked up as a kid learning back handsprings. There are a billion hand placement drills for kids learning back handsprings and every coach has different methods for how hands should be and what works best for each kid, so it’s likely just something she picked up when she was four or five and has held onto. Some do one hand in front of the other with hands turned in, others do ‘puzzle piece’ hands…it really just comes down to how you learned it when you were young. One hand on top of the other is definitely a little uncomfortable, and requires a lot of shoulder flexibility and strength, but if that’s how she learned it, she’s probably used to it and isn’t bothered by it.

What will the total destruction of USA Gymnastics mean for the dreams of innocent gymnasts? How would you move forward to make USAG better? Do you think more positive changes will be made by USAG?

Unfortunately the current generation is dealing with the fallout as we’ve seen with the ranch shutting down, camps getting pushed, and international meets getting canceled. It’s definitely unfair to them, and while I do think the changes happening are in the best interests of the current and future generations for the long-haul, USAG has had literally almost three years at this point to figure out alternatives so I don’t know why they waited until the absolute last minute to scramble to get alternative plans in place. Thankfully because gymnasts train at their clubs and not at a national center 95% of the time it won’t affect them all that much, and hopefully the bumps along the way will be minor. While I support the efforts that are happening because of the survivors coming forward and shutting things down, a lot of people are like, getting offended by the current generation fighting to maintain their place, which I don’t understand at all. These girls have worked hard for their entire lives and some of them are possibly victims themselves. You can still support the survivors while supporting the current generation of competitors who worked way too hard to get shut down completely. Ruining their careers doesn’t do anything to fix what Larry Nassar did to his victims, so I don’t understand why supporting the survivors and supporting the current generation is mutually exclusive to some people.

At the Voronin Cup, I noticed a few gymnasts did more than three toe-on skills. Isn’t that not allowed? Is there a reason they did it?

It’s not allowed and they weren’t credited for the skills that went beyond the three allowed root skills, which is why Viktoria Komova’s D score was so low on bars. But with Viktoria specifically, she doesn’t have her inbars back yet, and so she did toe-ons where her inbars normally would be. This was just a temporary placeholder since she plans on putting inbars back in eventually, and rather than redo her entire routine just for a basic competition like Voronin, which was pretty much just a practice meet for her as she goes into her comeback, she did what she would’ve done last quad when missing her inbars. If she makes Euros or worlds this year and still doesn’t have her inbars back, she’ll likely rework some of those elements so that she has only three toe-on root skills.

With the Russian controversy going on, what would the alternate procedure be for the individual Olympic spots? Suppose Russia qualifies one or two and then is deemed ineligible for Tokyo. Which country would be next in line for those spots?

There are always alternates for Olympic spots. If Russia qualifies them through all-around competitions, then the next all-arounder at those competitions who didn’t qualify would get bumped up into the spot. In 2016, for example, Ailen Valente was the last to qualify an individual spot with a 49.598, and just missing out was Marina Nekrasova right behind her with a 49.133. Had one of the individual qualifiers withdrawn from Rio, Marina would’ve moved up into a spot, and that’s how it’ll work with both all-around and event specialist competitions in 2020.

Has there ever been a gymnast in any J.O. level who has scored a Perfect 40 in the all-around?

I’m sure someone somewhere has done it at some level but no one I can think of off the top of my head and no one in the past decade at least. The highest level 10 score in the past decade was MyKayla Skinner’s 39.450 at the Fiesta Bowl in 2014, and the highest lower-level score was a 39.6, which Cecelia Chaney got as a level 4 in 2011 and Madison Gustitus got as a level 6 in 2017. Maybe back in the day when 10s were more common at the elite level as well? But unfortunately not a ton of data exists from the lower levels in those periods.

Do you know how Larisa Iordache, Ragan Smith, and Vanessa Ferrari are recovering from their injuries? What are their plans for next year?

Ragan is basically fully recovered, will be at Jesolo with her club, and is aiming for worlds this year. Both Larisa and Vanessa, who had much more serious Achilles ruptures, are still recovering and probably have another couple of months left before they can think about getting back to full training regimes. They’re mostly conditioning from what I’ve seen, and maybe working basics on bars or whatever, but six months is generally the least amount of time recommended before returning to leg events after an Achilles injury so neither likely wants to push it. For both, I’d say even worlds this year might be a push, especially if they have 2020 in mind.

Can USA Gymnastics be suspended or banned from international competitions by the IOC or other governing bodies for the handling of the Larry Nassar situation?

They can be decertified as the national governing body by the USOC, but if they follow the measures set out by the USOC (which they’re doing), the USOC will keep them certified with limited/no repercussions because it’s easier than dismantling them and starting the process of certifying another governing body. The USOC has its own blame in all of this, so I’m wondering if the IOC could punish the USOC…but the IOC can’t directly suspend or punish USAG. The FIG could suspend them, but as far as I’ve seen, they have no plans to do that. I think in the past few years the only federations I’ve seen them suspend have either been for age falsification or not following through with their financial obligations (which is usually a quick suspension). The FIG has a disciplinary commission, but things like sexual abuse, doping, violent behavior, and judges being naughty (what’s up rhythmic!) are generally dealt with on an individual suspension level, not a federation-wide level. I’m wondering if there’s something they could do since the U.S. federation traveled with a man who was an abuser and put international athletes at risk, but I think this would be the precedent-setting case in that regard.

What’s your prediction for the teams that will make the Super Six this year?

The current top five in the rankings (Oklahoma, LSU, UCLA, Utah, and Florida) are a step above everyone else and should easily make it should they hit in qualifications, and then the sixth spot is kind of anyone’s game. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a real wild card like Washington, Kentucky, Arkansas, or Boise State should they make it to nationals.

Does Romania have a shot at any team finals next quad?

Yeah, I wouldn’t count them out…but they’d need every single senior athlete they have all healthy at the exact same time to make it happen and that is a phenomenon that only happens once every 700 years so we’ll see if their stars align.

Why did Elizabeth Price retire halfway through 2014? She was doing the best gymnastics of her life earlier that year and probably could’ve made worlds and maybe even the Olympic team with an Amanar and a great bars set.

She was set to go to Stanford that fall and had the option of either pushing back Stanford by a year so she could contend for a worlds spot that year, or going to Stanford right away. Unlike other programs, Stanford doesn’t allow athletes to start midway through the season, so she couldn’t have gone to worlds in October 2014 and then started at Stanford in January 2015. Ultimately, she chose to go to Stanford on time rather than pushing it back, mostly because I think she had dealt with so many injuries and her body was hurting and since worlds wasn’t a guarantee, it wasn’t really worth it for her to push back her collegiate career and education by a year just for the shot that she could end up on the worlds team. Having had bad luck in the past, she had a very good reason to be cautious with her decision, and even though she would’ve been a front-runner for the worlds team that year had she looked in October the way she looked in that spring, I think with her injuries and general nagging pain, she knew it might not work out and so chose Stanford.

Would a flip flip into a dismount count as an acro connection on beam? Is there a way we could relay this information to Valentina Rodionenko or even Aliya Mustafina herself?

No, the acro series has to be separate from the dismount in elite. I don’t know why Aliya just doesn’t just do a back handspring layout stepout but she probably doesn’t want to be #basic and so she just makes her life harder. I’m worried she’ll see Brooklyn Moors’ front aerial to front tuck and get inspired though that might actually be a little easier to connect than the front aerial front aerial? But the front aerial front aerial needs to stop (slash needed to stop like four years ago).

Do you know if Shallon Olsen will do elite and NCAA at the same time like Brittany Rogers, or will she do something like Kate Richardson did, which is compete both for the Olympic year but otherwise only do NCAA?

I think she is planning on deferring NCAA until after 2020 but I could also see her doing what Kristina Vaculik and Brenna Dowell did, going for her freshman year and then taking a year off in the Olympic year. Though I guess what she trains wouldn’t make simultaneous NCAA and elite impossible so she could go that route as well, but I just heard she will defer. We’ll see!

If someone was to compete a standing double tuck on floor, would it be considered a new skill? How much would it be worth?

Based on precedent it would be the same as a double tuck at the end of a tumbling line, but it should be much harder, like an H at the least if that kind of acro would be allowed by the code. I think the acro that counts toward D scores on floor must be part of an actual tumbling line, not standalone.

Do you think WAG NCAA should have the open-ended code like the men? It could inspire a lot more women to compete elite after college.

No, I like it as it is. Men peak much older than women, so they’re just ending their junior careers as they enter college (some collegiate gymnasts this season are still considered juniors internationally) whereas the majority of women excel in elite before they reach the typical age for college. Men are going to be competing at a high elite level either during or after college, so it makes sense for NCAA to follow the same rules, but by the time women get to college most of them are dealing with bodies that are falling apart, and they prefer the lower-level gymnastics the collegiate system allows for. That, and it would create too wide a disparity at the NCAA level for the women. Now, you have Olympic gold medalists and girls who spent five years as mediocre level 10s able to go head-to-head in competition, but if they switched to the open-ended system, you’d have a handful of girls who would win everything because their bodies can handle more difficulty and it wouldn’t be as fun or competitive. Even most former elites who end up in NCAA drive down the difficulty by less than half of what they were doing in elite, and that’s what they love about the sport, so I think adding an open-ended system would create expectations and pressure that exist within elite, and girls who find NCAA as a place of refuge will end up struggling to remain both happy and competitive simultaneously.

How would you describe the current state of Chinese gymnastics? It seems they’ve fallen behind Russia, and maybe even Japan and Germany. What can we expect from them this quad?

I think they’ve only just realized in the past couple of years that their program and the way they ran things wasn’t going to be sustainable and so they’ve recently started opening up more rec gyms and lower-level gyms rather than focusing exclusively on their centralized system that brings in a small number of girls at a young age, many of whom don’t end up working out which creates depth problems at the top. They’re fixing this for the long haul, and then for more immediate results, they’re trying to bring in international coaches to shake things up, and have been doing a lot of camps within the U.S. so see how they can make changes that will help them reach the level of other international programs. They’ve obviously got bars down, and their beam could be great with a bit more consistency, but they struggle on the power events, and recently when they came to the U.S. and saw the amount of leg conditioning done at a regular day in the gym, they were kind of blown away that the U.S. girls worked so hard on that kind of conditioning and saw that this was how they too could get to higher levels. I think their openness in adopting some of these outside measures is what could make them great again someday. They know their weaknesses and they’re working hard to overcome them. That’s smart, and it’ll definitely help them in the long run.

What’s easier on floor, a double tuck or a double pike?

A double tuck is easier to rotate, but the leg positioning in the double pike makes it easier for many gymnasts to land. It kind of just comes down to personal preference on floor, whereas on beam the limited height off the end of the apparatus makes the double tuck inherently easier because you can rotate through a double tuck much quicker than you can rotate through a double pike, thus the double tuck being worth a D while the pike is an E even though the two are the same on floor. On floor, they’re equally the same level of difficulty, but for different reasons it comes down to personal preference.

Why is the arabian called the arabian? How did it get its name?

It’s one of those terms that originated a million years ago when tumbling and acrobatics were just becoming a thing (like the 1800s). It could just be that the skill became popular among Arab acrobats and so it kind of stuck among English-speakers? Other languages don’t really refer to arabians as arabians…and the ones that do probably picked it up from English-speakers. But yeah, it’s not named after anyone who competed it in the trampoline or artistic worlds, so like many other random terms that exist in this sport, arabian saltos probably just picked up that name regionally and it stuck throughout the years.

Did Emma Kelley move from Stars in Houston to Texas Dreams? Does this mean she is going to try to make elite?

From what I’ve seen, she has been training at Texas Dreams but I’m not sure if it was just for a limited time or if she has moved there full time.

Has anyone done a backspin on beam? Is it even possible?

Yup! It’s possible and has been done before. Most notably doing one was Li Li, an Olympian for China in 1992. She has a back spin named for her on beam, rated a C, and it was awesome. She went on to coach Liu Xuan to a bronze medal at worlds in 1999 and now she coaches at Buckeye.

If you were head coach of the U.S. or any other team with a shot for sending a full team to Tokyo, what would be your strategy be for earning all six spots to put your country in the best place for the Olympics?

I would want my team to be one of the top three at 2018 worlds so that team qualification is out of the way as early as possible, and then I would go after the two individual spots at all-around competitions, sending gymnasts to the all-around world cups and to the continental championships. I’d only bother going the apparatus world cup route if I had a gymnast who was basically guaranteed to win the series because she had something like a super consistent Amanar and Cheng combo in a field of gymnasts who only vaulted DTYs and Lopezes.

What do you know about the elite team at Texas Dreams? I didn’t feel like it was a good idea for Sydney Barros and Deanne Soza to train there since they already had a big elite team. Do you think they get less attention?

Texas Dreams is very individualized with their elite program, and they focus on individualizing each athlete’s goals in the sport rather than trying to make all of their elite athletes into potential top competitors. Deanne didn’t have a ‘big elite team’ in the past, she came from a small program where she was the only elite, and I think she felt a lot of pressure in that situation which is why she made the move. She told me last summer that at Texas Dreams she finally found someone who didn’t push her into doing more than she wanted to handle, so even though she wasn’t doing top difficulty (mostly due to injuries), she was much more confident and consistent, and was having much more fun than she was when she was the sole elite at her old gym. I don’t know Sydney’s story specifically, but clearly she’s finding something at Texas Dreams that works for her.

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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38 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. I’m so glad you have the scoop on Ragan going to Jesolo! Is there a running tally somewhere of other U.S. clubs or U.S. individuals who are going to make the trip?


    • Checked Flo and answered my own question. Thought I’d post here to save someone else the time:

      Sydney Barros, Texas Dreams
      Olivia Dunne, ENA Paramus
      Adeline Kenlin, Iowa Gym-Nest
      Emma Malabuyo, Texas Dreams
      Grace McCallum, Twin City Twisters
      Alyonna Shchennikova, 5280 Gymnastics
      Ragan Smith, Texas Dreams
      Tori Tatum, Twin City Twisters


    • Sydney didn’t move to TD because GAA stopped their homeschool and elite program. It’s the other way around: GAA suspended their elite program *because* Sydney moved and they didn’t think the other girls in the program had what it took to be elite so it wasn’t worth it to keep the program running with just those two girls. GAA still has a morning group/homeschool program till this day. Personally I think it is GAA’s loss since Sydney has obviously made tremendous improvements since switching to TD, Amber (the other girl in the elite program) just qualified Hopes on her first try and Whitney improved massively from the moment she switched to Georgia Elite until her unfortunate elbow injury.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The gym Sydney Barros left for Texas Dreams, Gymnastics Academy of Atlanta, ended their elite program at the same time that Sydney left. I don’t know if Sydney left because they were discontinuing the elite program or if it was unrelated, but Sydney was not the only elite there and the others moved too (Including Whitney Bjerken). Sydney had also only been at GAA for one season, which makes me think she moved because she had to. Either way, it seems that staying put wasn’t an option for Sydney, so it was just a matter of where she would go. She chose Texas Dreams.


    • Sydney moved to TD entirely of her own accord; she wasn’t making a lot of progress at GAA. After she moved, GAA asked Whitney and the other girl (Amber) in the elite program to give up on elite and switch to JO to continue at the gym because they didn’t think they were good enough for elite and it wasn’t worth it to the gym to keep training just those two in the program. Was it a good decision to tell the girls to give up? I don’t know but Whitney and Amber chose to move on to other gyms to continue trying for elite and Amber just qualified Hopes while Whitney is currently recovering from elbow OCD.


        • I’ll d really rather not say but if you want to confirm if it’s true or not, you can watch Sydney’s former teammate at GAA, Mallory Puscheck, talk about it on her Youtube channel in a video called ‘Q&A! Part 1’ around the 8:03 mark. You can just search Mallory Puscheck Q&A! Part 1 on Youtube.


  3. In the press release that announced Shallon Olsen’s National Letter of Intent with Alabama, Dana said she was joining for the 2018-19 season and then deferring for a year to explore the opportunities to represent Canada at 2019 Worlds and 2020 Olympics.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Romania needs literally every gymnast in their program to make team finals. Without Larisa, I don’t think they even have a prayer though, and I’m saying this as a fan of Romanian Gymnastics. @Stefy sorry… I’m realistic.


    • Actually, they have a super talented Junior becoming senior just in time for the Olympics: Sabrina Voinea – if she stays healthy, she will be the next Larisa Iordache.


      • Isn’t this the whole issue with Romania, though? They have had tons of promising juniors who quit gymnastics a year or two into their senior careers. I’m thinking of perfectly good and talented gymnasts like Diana Bulimar and Andreea Munteanu (and others) who have the skills but aren’t supported or coached properly and end up dropping out. Even Ioana Crisan made a final at Worlds this year, which is more than either of her teammates did. She’s a kid with a lot of potential, but it feels like she could easily go the same way as the others. It’s insane how the Romanians went from winning a team gold at Euros in 2014 to not qualifying a team to Rio. The problem isn’t a lack of talent, it’s a lack of coaching, support, etc.


  5. I read in an interview with Mostepanova, who competed the Onodi in the 1983 World Championships on beam, that she and her coach didn’t think it was unique enough to submit as a new skill so they didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • At that time the mentality about considering applying for naming a skill was different. At least in the Soviet Union, whatever the international rules might have been. A new skill worth naming must have been something fundamentally different, like a Korbut loop or Yurchenko entry on vault. If you watch Soviet footage of Mostepanova’s BB with Larisa Petrik’s commentary (I am assuming it exists on youtube), you can hear how she calls that skill “Kolpinskoye”, meaning from Kolpino or done in Kolpino. You can check it out on Google Maps, Kolpino is not far from St-Petersburg. There used to be a gymnastics school where meets were often held. And often that skill was done there, but on floor :). So the name stuck. Mostepanova just put it in her BB routine. To give it a new name? What a silly thought!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry but just to correct the inaccuracy about Mostepanova’s beam move – she absolutely did it at FIG recognised events long before Onodi – namely

    1983 Worlds

    1985 worlds

    I always thought it was strange that FIG allowed it to be named for Onodi when it had memorably been competed by another gymnast a decade earlier.


  7. It is a huge blow to the Russians that 2 of their top gymnasts for 2017 Worlds, Paseka and Eremina, are likely to miss this season as both have had spinal surgeries recently in Germany. Eremina is a huge loss to the team.


    • She is, and Paseka’s vault scores will be badly missed as well.
      Lets hope Mustafina is ready by the time Doha rolls around, otherwise Russia may well lose out again to either Japan or GB.


      • Probably not GB… their depth is abysmal. Japan, quite possibly, but Russia has enough depth with their new seniors and their veterans to stay afloat. Also, Ksenia Klimenko has a rudi on vault, so she can be the new Paseka.


        • And Ellie Downie’s ankle is giving her issues again. She’s out for the British Champs and the World Cup event now, and quite possibly even longer. As the strongest all arounder, that’s a massive blow to the team. They were super strong in 2015 because they had the Downies, Fragapane, Tinkler and Harrold all in top form. I can’t see them repeating that success now.


    • I definitely am going to miss Eremina and think she could’ve been successful were she healthy enough to attend Worlds this year. Russia actually has some depth this year with the junior talent that turned senior as well as the comebacks of Mustafina and Komova for AA/UB medals so I think missing a likely VT medal from Paseka is more of a blow in that respect at least.


  8. Is it bad that my first though when I heard Trinity was doing diving was that she’s hedging her bets for a scholarship in case gymnastics in the US totally implodes?


  9. “I know high-level girls at other gyms who play other sports or do theater/music/dance and it ends up being really good for them because they become more well-rounded and balanced, and it takes some of the pressure off with gym”
    I feel like this goes along so much with the “there’s a healthy way to create champions” thing.

    Also, in asking about the effects on the current generation, I’d love to see a piece from you about Valeri’s resignation and the response from the gymternet. I’m pretty much of the mind where I think it needed to happen, but I can still support the current gymnasts and understand why this upheaval isn’t the best thing for them, either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I’m working on something related to that…I’ve talked to a lot of coaches and athletes who were low key devastated when Valeri resigned. One coach who worked extensively both with Martha and Valeri at the national team level said it was night and day, and that Valeri did SO much to fix what was wrong with the national team system it felt like an entirely new program…which to me is insane knowing his history but apparently when he stepped up with kids who weren’t ‘his’ kids at his gym, he became a different person and told many coaches “learn from my mistakes” when he saw them being tough with their own kids. So I’m like…intrigued. No one talking about him forgives his past but they all do recognize the major steps he took to change and I actually saw a lot of that in a couple of stressful situations (at worlds right after Ragan got injured, and at Gymnix after all of the juniors fell on beam). He was great. GREAT. I was so surprised and just assumed he was putting on a good face in public, but Gymnix, there was really no one around but the gymnasts and their coaches when I saw his reaction to what happened on beam and it was…not something I had ever witnessed before. In a good way. So I do understand why people are like “burn it down” but it sucks that someone who actually was creating positive change for these girls, someone who was the only person within USAG that these girls and their coaches trusted with everything else happening, is someone who was forced out. I wish we could’ve seen him step up and say publicly something like “I know I’ve made mistakes before and I apologize to gymnasts at my club who I hurt” and then make a commitment to safe sport and a positive environment and culture with the current generation because I think with the level of support he has right now from gymnasts and their coaches, he would’ve been allowed to stay.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for continuing to share this aspect of Valeri, Lauren. I do not mean to invalidate the truth of the athletes he has harmed in the past but I am sad that his current positive change is so often overlooked.


        • Yeah, same. I liked what Mattie Larson said in her statement at Nassar’s sentencing, that he was one of the people who ignored her after she made a mistake at 2010 worlds making her feel worthless but she said “I hope he’s changed” and I think that likely came from a place of knowing how the current athletes were doing with him in charge. I’m glad the current coaches and athletes are also saying that his past behavior was inexcusable and that no one is trying to make excuses for him, but that they know he made a conscious effort to become a better person and leader, and that’s why he was so good for the current generation. People constantly say that part of the culture that needs to change is how the girls within the program didn’t really get to speak up for themselves and had every decision made for them, but now they’re saying “we loved Valeri as our NTC because he improved the program so much” and people who have nothing to do with gymnastics aside from being fans of the sport are trying to silence them based on their knowledge of how he treated girls like Katelyn Ohashi and Vanessa Atler. It doesn’t invalidate their experiences with him to say “he’s changed and is now good for the program.” You can talk about how he emotionally damaged those athletes and many others while also recognizing how he has worked really hard to become better. I just wish people were better thinking outside of black and white because here is someone who truly did make the sport better for so many girls over the past few years as devo and then national team coach, but people want to say that what he did a decade earlier should determine his current standing and that’s unfair when he really did work hard to change and become someone slash the ONLY person these girls could go to and trust at the national level. To rip them away from them with so much else going on is so unfair to the current gymnasts who yet again are having their wants and needs silenced.


  10. That’s absolutely devastating about Valeri. On a happier note, I want every single gymnast to do theatre in their spare time! I’m probably/definitely the biggest gym fan/nerd out there, but I LOVE doing theatre/acting/dancing when I’m not blogging. I’m also choreographing a routine to The River Flows In You and i’m borrowing some of Pauline Schaefer’s Choreo from 2016!


  11. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: Gymnastics is canceled. | The Gymternet

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