You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


Jade Carey

It’s time for the 214th 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.

We saw Jade Carey compete in her first ever elite competition and win two silvers. How easy or hard generally is it for a level 10 gymnast to adapt a routine to be suitable for elite?

It’s generally quite hard. If a level 10 gymnast is strong at vault, that’s the easiest transition to make, because all you have to do is attempt more difficult vaults than you’re doing so if vault is a talent of yours, going from a DTY to an Amanar is just a matter of working progressions and building the power to get it up and around (which isn’t easy, but compared to completely revamping routines elsewhere, it’s not as insane).

On the other three events, the J.O. code requires a lower number of simpler skills than the elite code requires. In J.O., a gymnast can do a Jaeger, bail, and full-in dismount on bars and call it a routine, but in elite they need to count eight skills into their routine, and if they want to be competitive, all eight skills will be around a D or higher. Not only do they have to learn and perfect a greater number of skills, they also have to build the endurance to get through a longer, harder routine. It’s easier for J.O. and NCAA gymnasts to bust out a full-twisting double layout at the end of a bars set than it is for elites because J.O. gymnasts are doing three or four skills prior to it whereas elite gymnasts are doing seven.

For Jade, a really strong vaulter who demonstrated high-level vaults at the J.O. level before considering elite, upgrading her vaults wasn’t a huge deal, though it was definitely much harder for her to add the difficulty on floor. She did a great job, though, because even though she has always been a pretty strong tumbler, to add the higher difficulty and additional skills and endurance to get through it was super impressive.

Do you think that Al Fong from GAGE is a good coach?

I think so, yeah. It probably depends on who you ask, though. I know a few girls have left him because they don’t like how intense he can be, but I’ve talked to other gymnasts who have absolutely loved training with him. One time, several years ago, I tweeted something about being stuck in an elevator with Al who had nothing with him but an unoccupied Juicy Couture baby stroller (I’m screeching laughing just picturing it) and a ton of his J.O. kids saw the tweet and were telling me stories about him being the best dad and treating his kid like a princess, I was like aww, he seems so tough and stern but he’s also kind of a softy? So based on how a lot of his current and recent gymnasts felt about him, he seemed to be a good coach in the sense that his athletes really loved him.

In terms of being a good technical coach, also yes. I think there’s very few coaches who are able to pick out exactly what their gymnasts need to succeed. He always has athletes who are very different from one another, but he’s able to pinpoint what will get them noticed, and it’s always so perfect, like Brenna Dowell with her front tumbling and Sarah Finnegan with her beam composition…no coach is going to have a million superstars coming out of the gym every single year, but when he does get strong elite-level gymnasts, he manages to bring all of them to a very high level while making them stand out in their own way, and he also was known for advocating for his athletes within the national program. I’ve seen him stand up for kids a number of times, and to me, that makes for a great coach.

Who was the better team — the Fierce Five or the Final Five? Who would’ve won?

I think they were similar and each had their own strengths and weaknesses. I think the Fierce Five was the better cohesive, complementary team. It was a team where everyone had a clearly defined role and served a specific purpose, and even though not every possible goal ended up being attainable with that team, it was just like, all of the puzzle pieces fit together perfectly with them.

The team in 2016 still feels a bit oddly balanced to me, mostly because the depth in 2016 overall was a bit greater and there were other, perhaps better ways to work out that puzzle. But with Simone Biles on the team alongside some other strong talents, they could’ve taken three top girls (with Simone being one of them) and then the other two could’ve been pretty much anyone at trials, and they still would’ve won the gold. I think the Final Five would’ve beaten the Fierce Five, because of Simone adding that extra oomph.

Is it possible to do a roundoff with an added half twist on floor and then front tumble out of it?

Not really…there’s really no such thing as a roundoff half, and physically if you were to add a half twist coming out of it, it wouldn’t serve the same purpose that a roundoff serves, which is to be a momentum-builder into subsequent skills. Adding a half here would kind of take away some of the power a roundoff builds, so any front tumbling you’d do out of it would be pretty basic.

What would happen if USA Gymnastics was decertified?

Most likely, the USOC would take over in the interim while the certification process began for a new governing body. I doubt it’ll happen at this point, but if it did, while things would be bumpy for a while, with the athletes spending the majority of their time training at their individual clubs, at least their experiences wouldn’t be TOO interrupted.

What would Nastia Liukin’s 2008 bars be worth in this code of points?

Off the top of my head, I believe she’d get 2.0 CR, 3.7 skills, and 0.4 CV for a total of 6.1.

Does Morgan Hurd not have any turns in her floor routine? Wouldn’t that be a deduction?

There is no requirement to perform a turn on floor. There are composition deductions, so it’s possible that some judges could see not having a turn as ‘poor composition’ but I think if the routine works well as a whole, most judges wouldn’t take this deduction. In many cases where gymnasts aren’t strong dancers or movers, turns actually disrupt the flow of their routines and would likely become artistry deductions.

Gymnasts generally have turns either to enhance their choreography and artistry (like the simpler turns or the balletic turns that aren’t worth anything on floor, like fouettés) while others will do more difficult turns to add more value to their routines because they’re stronger at dance than they are at tumbling. I think if turns work for you and your choreography/routine as a whole, they’re great, but all of these wolf turns and pirouettes that take multiple seconds for prep into them are absolutely getting slammed with deductions, so if you’re not going to do really seamless and fluid turns, it’s not worth doing one at all, especially if the rest of your routine is really well done in terms of artistry and composition.

When are skills on floor considered front tumbling? Is the Biles front or back tumbling?

For the most part if you look at the entry of a skill, that’s what determines whether it’s forward or backward. If someone does a roundoff back handspring into it, it’s probably backwards (like the Biles), whereas if someone punches forward or does a front handspring or front layout into a skill, it’s probably considered a front skill (like the Podkopayeva). The only anomaly is the arabian double front, which has a backwards entry into the skill, but it’s considered front tumbling because the two saltos are done as forward saltos…though in MAG, this skill is considered back tumbling solely because of the backward entry.

Who is the youngest to have won the all-around title at U.S. nationals?

Info gets a little sketchy prior to 1980 thanks to both a lack of DOBs and then also no date information for championships, but this is everyone I could find in order of youngest to oldest:

Dominique Moceanu, 13 years, 10 months, 20 days (1995)
Kim Zmeskal, 14 years, 4 months, 4 days (1990)
Julianne McNamara, 14 years, 6 months, 8 days (1980)
Tracee Talavera, 14 years, 8 months, 13 days (1981)
Dianne Durham, 14 years, 11 months, 22 days (1983)
Kristie Phillips, 15 years, 2 months, 29 days (1987)
Kim Zmeskal, 15 years, 4 months, 3 days (1991)
Vanessa Atler, 15 years, 5 months, 30 days (1997)
Shawn Johnson, 15 years, 6 months, 30 days (2007)
Phoebe Mills, 15 years, 8 months, 8 days (1988)
Tracee Talavera, 15 years, 8 months, 28 days (1982)
Nastia Liukin, 15 years, 9 months, 14 days (2005)
Jordyn Wieber, 16 years, 1 month, 8 days (2011)
Brandy Johnson, 16 years, 1 month, 10 days (1989)
Kim Zmeskal, 16 years, 3 months, 11 days (1992)
Mary Lou Retton, 16 years, 3 months, 19 days (1984)
Carly Patterson, 16 years, 4 months, 1 day (2004)
Simone Biles, 16 years, 4 months, 4 days (2013)
Shawn Johnson, 16 years, 4 months, 19 days (2008)
Shannon Miller, 16 years, 5 months, 18 days (1993)
Tasha Schwikert, 16 years, 8 months, 21 days (2001)
Nastia Liukin, 16 years, 9 months, 20 days (2006)
Courtney Kupets, 16 years, 10 months, 26 days (2003)
Jordyn Wieber, 16 years, 10 months, 29 days (2012)
Ragan Smith, 17 years, 12 days (2017)
Rebecca Bross, 17 years, 1 month, 3 days (2010)
Bridget Sloan, 17 years, 1 month, 23 days (2009)
Jennifer Sey, 17 years, 3 months, 30 days (1986)
Kristen Maloney, 17 years, 5 months, 12 days (1998)
Tasha Schwikert, 17 years, 8 months, 20 days (2002)
Courtney Kupets, 17 years, 10 months, 9 days (2004)
Simone Biles, 17 years, 5 months, 10 days (2014)
Kristy Powell, 17 years, 6 months, 3 days (1997)
Dominique Dawes, 17 years, 9 months, 7 days (1994)
Elise Ray, 18 years, 4 months, 23 days (2000)
Simone Biles, 18 years, 5 months, 2 days (2015)
Kristen Maloney, 18 years, 5 months, 18 days (1999)
Kathy Johnson, 18 years, 7 months, 23 days (1978)
Shannon Miller, 19 years, 2 months, 29 days (1996)
Simone Biles, 19 years, 3 months, 12 days (2016)

From 1978 to the present, Dominique Moceanu was the youngest national all-around champion at age 13 years, 10 months, and 20 days when she won the title in 1995, and the oldest national all-around champion was Simone Biles when she won in 2016 at age 19 years, 3 months, and 12 days. In 1996 and earlier, the age rules were different, allowing for gymnasts who turned 14 in a given year to compete as seniors, so no one will be able to beat Moceanu’s record. If you want to consider only the current rules that require gymnasts to turn 16 in a given year to compete as seniors, Phoebe Mills would hold the record at 15 years, 8 months, and 8 days, since she turned 16 in 1988, the year she won.

Do any other countries have the equivalent of a J.O. program?

Some have adopted the U.S. program in an effort to kind of fine-tune the lower levels, and they use the J.O. program (or their version with modifications) as both a lower-level competitive circuit as well as a sort of developmental program. Canada adopted the U.S. program in 2015, and Colombia also uses the J.O. program now pretty much exactly as the U.S. does…and for countries that haven’t exactly adopted it, several others like Great Britain, Australia, Japan, and a few European countries have tiered level systems. Generally it’s smaller programs that tend not to have something like it, or programs that are more centralized and don’t really have gymnasts who aren’t national team-focused competing, like Russia or China. Both of these obviously have competitions for younger gymnasts, but not in the same sense that we have it in the U.S. or in other similar programs where parents sign their kids up for rec and team programs at clubs that would go on to compete against other clubs.

Chloe Harvey wrote in Instagram that she’s planning on going to elite qualifiers this year. Why is she already saying she’s an elite in her bio?

I couldn’t tell ya. It’s probably because she’s done elite developmental camps or something. Even though you’re not necessarily an elite if you go to those camps, most kids don’t know all of the rules and distinctions so getting an invite to a devo camp could be all they care about when it comes to calling themselves elites.

Why is Laney Madsen scored so low in her execution? What deductions is she getting?

She’s scored low because a lot of her foundational skills are flawed in addition to her form generally being quite iffy. Things like bent elbows, bent knees, and general lack of extension are things you might not see but trust me, the judges do. Then there are skill-specific deductions like leg separations, flexed/unpointed feet, crossed ankles, lack of proper body positioning on skills (like piked hips on a layout or soft knees on a pike)…it all adds up. Even if she hits a routine flawlessly in terms of landings, she’s still getting hammered for all of these little things you might not see. Coming from a background in cheer, where there isn’t as much attention to detail for basic skills like back handsprings, they’d have to break a LOT of her bad habits to get all of her foundations up to par with J.O. kids and elites who grew up learning how to do these things with precision and a focus on technique.

Has anyone ever competed a round-off half-on front pike with one and a half twists?

Yup! The first I can think of doing it was Terin Humphrey at a random meet at Parkettes in 2003. She never got it named in the code (slash I can’t think of her doing it again after this, it wasn’t exactly a great vault) but even though the girls in the video say “it was a layout, she didn’t grab her knees!” she meant it to be piked, hahaha. I think generally because twisting in a piked position is hard aerodynamically, if someone’s going to do a 1½ out of a Yurchenko half-on entry, they’ll either go for the tuck (Khorkina II) or the layout (Cheng). In the current code, the piked 1½ is worth a 5.6.  

In Aly Raisman’s book she said the Final Five was told at camp that Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas would be doing the all-around in Rio. Is this surprising since Gabby was not as solid at trials?

I wasn’t surprised. I kind of assumed if Gabby was going to the Olympics she’d be doing the all-around no matter who beat her, or how many times they beat her, because she was the reigning Olympic champion and there’s no way they’d take the reigning Olympic all-around champion to her second Olympics and not have her compete in the all-around. I’m actually surprised they gave her competition for the final in letting Aly compete in qualifications, because it’s no secret that dozens of team and lineup decisions were made by Steve Penny based on marketing and publicity rather than on merit. In Steve’s dream world, it would’ve been Gabby and Simone in the all-around final with no one else competing all-around in qualifications to knock either of them out.

But I’m sure Aly’s team would’ve flipped the freak out if that happened. In 2013, Steve wanted only Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney to compete all-around in qualifications, with Kyla Ross doing bars and beam while Brenna just did floor, because Kyla wasn’t pro and McKayla was basically seen as a cash cow in her comeback and this would’ve invited tons of opportunities for a payoff. But Kyla’s coaches lost their minds, and so they decided to let all three do all-around which meant Brenna got the axe. I’m sure if in 2016 they were like “only Simone and Gabby do the all-around to guarantee the final for both,” Aly, her coaches, her parents, and everyone in her life would’ve set the ranch on fire.

How come the U.S. never sends gymnasts to the Youth Olympic Games?

It’s kind of two-fold. First, they have in past years conflicted with U.S. nationals, and since U.S. nationals are way more competitive than YOGs have been so far, it makes more sense for gymnasts to get competitive experience at nationals than at a competition with…no competition, to say the least. Like, had Bailie Key been healthy and had the U.S. sent her to YOGs in 2014, based on the level of competition there, she would’ve won everything with her eyes closed. In the U.S., she would’ve been the favorite for the national title in the junior competition, but the competition would’ve been much tougher for it, and a couple of falls would’ve made a bigger difference than they would have at YOGs.

Also, there’s no team competition at YOGs, and the U.S. generally only likes big international meets that have a team component, since that prepares gymnasts for important team competitions like worlds and the Olympics in the future. When there were meetings about the upcoming junior worlds, the U.S. basically said “we won’t send gymnasts unless there’s a team aspect” because that’s what they value, so they’d rather send a team of juniors to Pac Rims or Jesolo than one kid to a competition like YOGs because there’s not much in terms of competitive experience she can get there that she wouldn’t get at a domestic meet.

Are mount skills considered different from normal acro skills in the routine? If a gymnast mounts with a punch front, can she do another punch front in the routine and count it for value?

Yes, they’re different. There are different element groups for each event in the code. Even though a skill might technically be the same thing (like, a punch front tuck is the same thing physically, whether you’re using it to mount onto the beam or doing it as a skill on the beam), if it’s placed into different element groups, you could do it and get credit for it in each of those element groups. A layout is a good example, because a gymnast could get away with doing a layout mount (from the mount group), a layout in her flight series (from the acro group), and a layout dismount (from the dismount group). She has three layouts, but it would count as three different skills because of the three different groups.

Will there be any more drastic changes to the Code of Points? I think it would be nice for it to stay relatively similar for a while.

Every quad they do an overhaul to try to fix what judges don’t think is working, so even though I’m more of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” camp and don’t think most of the changes are necessary, apparently the technical committee is never happy with anything and is constantly trying to improve on things that they see as not working, or not being utilized correctly.

I do think it’s valuable to make a change when gymnasts find and exploit loopholes, so I’m glad when we see things like getting rid of the exception that allowed for gymnasts to do a random side aerial in her choreo and have it count as ‘front tumbling’. Gymnasts and their coaches are always going to find these little loopholes to get away with not having to do some sort of requirement or of adding difficulty in a kind of ‘cheap’ way and the technical committee usually picks up on this pretty quickly and tries to limit them, which I’m totally in favor of even if I get annoyed at the major overhauls that seem to happen for no reason. Now if only the next code will say that back-to-back wolf turns aren’t allowed on beam…

Can you explain how Kyla Ross’ bars routine last year was enough to start from a 10? It had a shaposh, a couple of giants, and a dismount, right? Are other gymnasts doing more than they need if this is enough? If everyone did this we’d have incredibly boring routines. It feels unfair even if it technically isn’t. What do you think?

Many bar routines in NCAA are like this. A flight element in NCAA doesn’t have to be a same-bar flight element, so a low-to-high transition is allowed to be considered flight and that’s why Kyla is able to compete the routine she has — a Maloney to bail to toe shoot, and then her dismount. With these four skills, she hits every requirement, and she actually has MORE difficulty than most NCAA routines (a Maloney isn’t exactly an ‘easy’ skill…in elite, it’s a D, the same as a Tkachev or straddle Jaeger).

The routine that most gymnasts do in NCAA is a Jaeger, bail or overshoot, jump to high bar, and dismount, which also meets all requirements. In sets like this one, gymnasts get away with breaking the flow of the routine by being allowed that jump to the high bar, so even though Kyla’s routine looks ‘easier’ because she doesn’t have a same-bar release, she’s not only at a higher level of difficulty than the majority of routines we see in NCAA, but she’s also not breaking the flow by doing a jump-to-high transition.

Can NCAA gymnasts (and other athletes) pursue graduate studies if they had to redshirt a year? Is Peng Peng Lee allowed to do graduate studies, especially since you have to be enrolled at a school to compete?

Yes they can. Since Peng graduated from undergrad last year, she must be enrolled in grad school (or maybe just taking more undergrad classes?) in order to be competing right now. I’ve actually known of a few gymnasts who finish their undergrad programs but still have eligibility left, and so if they end up going to grad school somewhere with a gymnastics program, they end up competing because they have that eligibility and might as well go for it. Two kind of big recent examples…Haley Sedgewick, a standout at Pitt as an undergrad, finished up her eligibility as a grad student at MSU, and Jordan Williams of Arizona ended up going to grad school at UCLA, so she vaulted for them for a season.

How long does the average elite gymnast train?

Usually around 30-40 hours a week, depending on the gym. Some will go for fewer hours because she’s injury-prone or just doesn’t need the super lengthy gym time but they’ll do more conditioning on the side.

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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56 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. I had always thought that Peng was doing graduate school work but I think in a vlog or a livestream or something she said she was actually still working on her undergrad. So maybe she’s adding a double major or a minor or something?


    • Oh, interesting…yeah, that could be possible! I know she had photos on Instagram last year of her in her cap and gown and everything but yeah, I guess it could be possible she’s doing more undergrad work?


      • At the college that I’m at, if you’re a pre med student you’re allowed to do an extra year of undergrad courses after you’ve graduated if there are extra course requirements at the medical school you want to go to that isn’t covered by your degree. Maybe UCLA has something similar?


  2. Not just COP related, but this always bothered me- it’s the constant changing of the team aspect for the Olympics. It went from 6 person team in 1992 to 7 person team in 1996 to doing away with compulsaries in 2000 to a 6-3-3 format in 2004 to an open end scoring in 2008 to 5 person team in 2012, Now it’s a four person team in 2020! Now imagine if you’re a four year fan. Wouldn’t that be super confusing?


    • This drives me crazy. I think 6 is the ideal number, but I would compromise with 5, which is also ok to have diversity. I’m not sure that the argument “let’s help minor nations who don’t have depth by limiting the number of athletes” is very solid. I guess most countries which are likely to end up in the Top 8 can find 5 or 6 gymnasts, including 3 specialists. If it continues this way, by 2028 teams will be reduced to 2 athletes. In 2032, it will be 1.5.


  3. It’s really unfair to say that Gabby was in the all-around largely because of marketing decisions. I don’t even like her but in my head, she had scores in all four routines that could be relied on. Laurie was inconsistent on bars in trials and in podium training. So you knew that Gabby would do bars over Laurie.

    The only argument for Laurie doing bars was that she was a better bar worker than Aly and this was true. The problem was that Aly’s bars were more reliable than Laurie’s (who had never scored well in a real international competition – Pac Rims don’t count, they still had US scoring there). So in as much as Laurie would have scored much higher than Aly if she hit, it was a question of would she even hit?

    Gabby also had a stronger vault, beam and floor than Madison (floor I’m not so sure of though because I loved Madison’s floor).


    • I agree with Lauren. It was a marketing decision, if you go by the numbers, Gabby was not the 2nd or 3rd best all-arounder of the US. Also, the US was gonna have such a big lead, there was no need for Gabby on bars, UNLESS they really thought she could medal individually on bars, which would make me laugh.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t say it was LARGELY because of marketing decisions — she wouldn’t have been in there if she didn’t also have good enough scores to back up the decision and the three were so close, it didn’t really matter who went into the AA in qualifications. But the fact is that Aly and Laurie beat her every single time that summer, and if Gabby wasn’t Gabby, she wouldn’t have been given an all-around spot (or, frankly, made the team). Besides, I know for a fact that’s how the decision was made, so like it or not, it’s the truth and many other decisions about teams and lineup spots were made in similar ways over the years. Be mad at Steve for doing it, not at me for bringing it up.


      • Please, for the foreigner outsiders, who is Steve Penny ? Until today, I thought that Marta did the selection on her own, based on sport and result criteria. So there has been some machinations …


        • He was actually also the CEO. Because USA gym doesn’t get any governmental funds, his position is actually really important to make the organization float financially as USA gym covers everything from artistic to rhythmic to aerobic gymnastics. That’s why he was always looking at ways to make the team more marketable, which is way he meddled in the team selection. Since Maroney had more star power in 2013, Penny was the one pushing for her to do the AA over Ross in 2013. More marketing meant more sponsors meaning more $$$.


    • Think the the primary reason that Gabby was on the team was because of her bars and was the extra security that the team needed on that event along with the idea that she could also be used on any of the other events if needed (unlike Locklear).

      I agree that Gabby ended up doing AA was because of actual gymnastics; she wasn’t the weakest on the team on any event. She was stronger than Madison on vault, beam and floor and stronger than Laurie and Aly on bars. Besides it would have been really strange to take Gabby for her bar work and not have her in the bars line up.

      The marketing stuff was just extra and like Lauren mentioned while Steve may have wanted it, it doesn’t sound like he usually got it.


  4. In other news Laney Madsen has left Gym-Max and is now training at Precision Gymnastics. Quite frankly, I don’t get it though. I mean she did badly at her last qualifier and has ton of form issues but I don’t see the problem at Gym-Max as they also have produced Kyla Ross etc. who has AMAZING execution.. Maybe she just needed a change because she felt stuck with not getting her qualifying scores again..

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have heard rumours about her moving on from the US elite system and turning her sights towards competing for Bulgaria. On her Instagram post announcing her move she wrote ‘I can’t remember the last time I felt this happy at training’ which seemed a bit shady towards Gym-Max to me so who knows what the real deal is with her move :/

      She could very well end up competing for Bulgaria but I hope for her sake that her new gym takes her back to the basics and drops the skill chucking.


      • To be honest, I was about 90% sure she’d be going the route from the day she started competing elite in the US. I mean she has tremendous talent but the US elites are so strong she would never make a worlds, or even olympic team with her basics (which are not really basics) and everything.


    • Don’t be silly. She had back surgery (preventative if you believe the story). They don’t expect her to be ready for the World Championships, but they certainly are looking at her down the road.

      Russia doesn’t have the depth the US has. They can’t expect all their athletes to be competing at top level, because they know they have to save them for the important meets. Russia is being quite clear that they like this young woman, and expect to see her at the next Olympics.

      As for being happy? Why? She’s a lovely gymnast with a lot of talent and clearly has some room to grow. I look forward to watching her compete for quite a while.


  5. Re front tumbling, I’m wondering what the purpose is of introducing that requirement. If it’s to introduce more variety, it hasn’t really worked, because a lot of gymnasts are just doing the run up, punch front tuck, round off, bhs, bhs, back saltos type tumbling run and the front tuck looks horrible and awkward just stuck in there. I’m guessing a lot of gymnasts need the momentum from the bhs going into the main tumbling skill and don’t feel safe or comfortable going from a front layout/handspring and having less momentum plus a blind landing and am wondering how wise it is to basically be pushing them to do so. Maybe I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem to be adding anything, and in fact it seems like a lot of routines are suffering for it.


    • In fact, we don’t know; her back surgery is very very serious (she has iron into her backbones) . But, I think everybody, especially on this site, loves Eremina and hopes the best for her. She is absolutely one of the current smart gymnasts (with many others like Hurd, Biles, the Downies sisters, Black, Dos Santos, …) who praises gymnastics and gymnasts whatever the country they come from.


  6. The Al Fong wit pink baby stroller made me laugh! (Ok you didn’t say pink but JC stroller almost must be pink, right?). I recently watched a video at flog gymnastics, his gym is so impressively clean and spotless and all the colorful mats! I also like he stands up for his athelets not afraid of speaking up against Marta’s decision about team selection.


  7. I’m trying to think how it would have worked to not have Aly in the AA as Penny wanted. With Simone and Gabby in the AA that leaves two spots per apparatus. I would think that would mean taking Aly off of UB since that was her weakest event and putting Laurie up. Aly was always going to do floor and had the only Amanar besides Simone so she was going to vault. Aly is pretty steady on beam and is the 2012 bronze medalist so I don’t think they would have subbed Madison for Aly on beam. Laurie was definitely doing floor and beam and Madison was’t vaulting so Laurie had to vault. But, this would put Laurie in the AA and she also could have knocked Gabby out. I can’t think of any way to make it work unless you take Laurie off FX and sub Madison but Laurie’s FX was such a hit. Hmm.


  8. Wasnt Al Fong coach to both Christy Henrich and Julissa Gomez who both died? I think you have Millenial info on Him… lol

    Julissa Gomez broke her neck while performing a Yurchenko vault in 1988 during the World Sports Fair in Japan, just before the 1988 Olympic trials.[1] After the accident Fong said: “One thing is certain…Julissa certainly wouldn’t want national team members to stop competing, or want me to quit being the coach that I am”.[2] After the accident some coaches supported banning the vault entirely, but Fong said that “a lot of the coaches are concerned about the hysteria going on about this vault[…]This could hamper the development of the sport.”[3] He said that banning the vault would put the United States even further behind the Soviets and suggested that coaches should teach the vault to gymnasts when they are younger so they will have more time to develop it.[3]

    Another one of Fong’s gymnasts Karen Tiereny cracked the C-1 vertebra in her neck when she landed on her head performing the Yurchenko vault at the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1987. Tiereny decided she would not perform the vault anymore and has said that Fong continued to encourage her to perform the anyway. Fong insists that he did not pressure Tiereny to continue performing the Yurchenko.[4]

    He coached Christy Henrich, who missed the 1988 Seoul Olympics by .188. Henrich developed anorexia nervosa after a judge told her she was too heavy at 93 pounds to make the Olympic team. As a result of her illness, she was unable to compete after 1990. She retired from the sport in 1991 and died from multiple organ system failure in 1994 at 22 years of age. Fong had stopped coaching Christy in 1989 and has said that he “kicked her out of the gym for her own good” adding that she was had lost the strength needed to complete her routines safely.[5] Henrich has said that Fong called her the ***”Pillsbury Dough Boy”, which Fong has denied.[6]


    • Also Ivona Hong and her experience with Al Fong- While she was training at GAGE she reported that Al Fong “made” her continue to train on a fractured shin. To top off two of his former gymnasts have died. Not a good luck… AT ALL! PINK stroller or not! Ask the Henrichs how they feel about Fong… Or The Gomez family…


    • I know all of this! Shockingly, people change after a 30 year period! Who he was as a coach in the 80s and 90s isn’t who he is as a coach now, which I know through many gymnasts who love training with him as well as seeing him advocate first-hand for his athletes. I’m personally glad that he saw how his aggressive style hurt athletes both physically and emotionally, and am glad that he decided to take steps to change this. When someone asks “is Al Fong a good coach” I’m going to answer using information about how he is as a coach NOW, not how he was as a coach in 1988, a decade before any of his current gymnasts were born. His history sucks balls, and when I first heard these stories when I started getting more into gymnastics in 2000ish, I was like “how the hell does this man still run a gym????” but THANKFULLY he saw that what he had been doing clearly wasn’t working and he changed. While he’s still intense, he’s nothing like he was then and his athletes over the past ten or so years have almost all loved training with him, so much so that Sabrina Vega moved halfway across the country to leave her gym to be with him (and preferred him to Ungureanu), and Sarah Finnegan recommended him for her younger sister when she wanted to go elite.


      • Aww I’m so glad he has changed. Im so happy for him… I’m so glad he saw the errors in his ways. Too bad IT TOOK ALL THIS FOR THAT TO HAPPEN!. Gurl bye! 🙂


        • I mean…I can name about 10 coaches off the top of my head who are more atrocious now than Al ever was, but okay. He didn’t literally murder two girls…many coaches NOW are more emotionally abusive regarding weight than Al was. Not excusing his behavior then, but it could’ve happened to any coach who told a gymnast to lose weight, which is literally almost every coach that has ever existed in any sport. People don’t get anorexia from someone saying “lose weight.” It’s a mental illness that could be triggered by a coach saying “lose weight” (or a judge and a coach, in this case) or it could also be triggered by parents getting divorced or someone on the street yelling out a rude comment or literally ANYTHING because it’s a mental illness, not something caused by something someone else says or does. Teenage girls who have never stepped foot into a gymnastics club die from this illness by the thousands every single year, do you blame their parents for their deaths? Again, it doesn’t excuse any of his behavior, but wouldn’t you rather see people make changes than continue to be monsters within the sport, especially in the current climate?


        • Again, not an excuse, but how many coaches push gymnasts to perform skills they’re not capable of doing? We see it at every single nationals and while we thankfully haven’t seen anyone die because of it in recent years, we have seen dozens of preventable injuries in the past five years alone. As I said in my post, not every gymnast feels the same way as the gymnasts who have enjoyed training with him in recent years…there are several who were with him and left to go to other gyms because they found him intense. But thankfully none of the gymnasts I’ve spoken to from about 2012 to the present have gone through that with him which is why they all speak highly of him, and again, I’m talking about him as a coach NOW. I can think of only a handful of coaches who HAVEN’T forced gymnasts to push through injuries and train on broken body parts. That doesn’t make it okay and I’m not saying “everyone does it, so that excuses his behavior!” but I don’t understand why you’re so excited about calling out one of the bad coaches and not all of them. Everything you’ve brought up about Al can be said about 75% of current elite coaches. Thankfully the climate is changing, and thankfully Al seems to be one of the people who is changing with it, or at least has been for the past 6 or so years (in which he’s demanded time off at the ranch for his gymnasts, and has refused to let them participate in events when they’re supposed to be on hiatus because he wants them to get their deserved rest even if the national team staff wanted them competing). I think that’s a good thing even if it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) erase his past.


        • I’m calling him out specifically because he was asked about in the q-n-a – you glossed over his history with a pink stroller story…. That’s why. Have someone else ask a question about another shady coach, in the q-n-a… and if you responded with a teddi bear story, glossing over their true history, I would reply the same way. I hope he has changed… glad people he has trained with now, have a good experience. But his past is his past, and his choices impacted two lives, and families forever… It’s part of his bio. Regardless. I like to see all sides.. 🙂


        • I agree with all of these points, I was just making my answer to the question relevant with who he is today. I don’t want to erase his history, and it is absolutely relevant, but when answering it didn’t cross my mind when talking about his current coaching abilities…slash I don’t think I ever tell someone’s whole story when answering these, and while his history is important for people to know and shouldn’t be glossed over, the question “is he a good coach” — meaning like, at the moment, is he a good coach — didn’t need his entire history presented, since I was trying to talk about him as a coach right now. Had the question been about his history or had it been “was Al Fong a good coach from 1988-2008” I absolutely would’ve mentioned every single thing you brought up and said no, he was problematic af.

          (As an aside, the stroller story happened before I knew anything about him aside from the abuse stories…my tweet was something along the lines of how terrifying it was to be trapped in there with him and his Juicy Couture stroller and that’s when his current gymnasts jumped in, which was the first I’d heard of him as a non-terrifying coach. Color me surprised!).


  9. I got angry all over again about 2013 reading this– Brenna seriously got bumped for marketing reasons?!? Well, I guess that makes the “McKayla has only done two events this season but we’re having her bust out AA at Worlds” decision make more sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. About YOG, it’s obvious that in 2014, Bailie Key would have won every event, even in sleeping. BUT, in 2010, Komova was at her peak, was the best Russian gymnast (even stronger than Mustafina) and the game was opened with Jordyn (I would have bet on Vika … She won with 61.250 at YOG and Jordyn won the US classics with 59.950 ). This year, who is the best US 2003 baby ? Maybe Leanne Wong (or Sunisa Lee) ? I love Wong (not so much Lee at the moment) but, It could be quite difficult for her with Villa, Klimenko and the best Chinese (and maybe Japanese) gymnasts. Don’t you think it could be a big experience for Wong to compete and win these games, especially as the YOG are in november this year and not at the same time than the US championships ?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Asking here in case anyone knows and because it’s quite time sensitive. Does anyone know how the British Championships works in terms of qualifying to the senior apparatus finals? The only thing I can see that looks qualificationy is 10:10 – 12:25 Women’s Senior All-Around (Sub-Division 1) on the Saturday morning. Does this serve as the qualifier round for all the finals? Or are the senior finalists already qualified from another meet? I’ve never been to the British before and the format makes no sense to me.


  12. I think Armine brought a softening influence on Al too. Interesting that Sabrina preferred him to Teodora! I would have thought that she, of all people, would not have been scary intense given the rough time she had of it in Romania. (Or maybe I am letting the movie Nadia color my impression of her.)


  13. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: Oh my goddess | The Gymternet

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