You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


Shayla Worley

It’s time for the 215th 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 was Shayla Worley controversial?

I think for most people who don’t like her it’s either because she asked for donations to get to Beijing for the Olympics so she could party (lol), and then people also don’t like that when she went to Georgia she apparently went off about how she was going to break all of Courtney Kupets’ records and be their best gymnast in history and was super cocky about how good she was. I think she also made some comments about the Chinese gymnasts in 2008 that were off-putting (but so did everyone on the Beijing Olympic team and no one seems to have issues with some of them who also said shady things). I do have a problem with the comments she and others made but also it’s been ten years and I’m sure I made stupid comments ten years ago that I wouldn’t make now so hopefully she has changed as well. I think just in general, she was pretty cocky, which people don’t like at all in women even though male athletes can be much cockier and more self-promoting and they’re considered badasses. I don’t get this whole thing people have against gymnasts who are like “I’m amazing and am going to the Olympics and will be the best gymnast ever”…I mean, I guess if they’re putting down other gymnasts in the process, then that’s kind of awful, but many female gymnasts who are just super confident about their own ability and aren’t afraid to talk about how good they are end up being treated like crap by fans. I have mixed feelings about Shayla, but definitely don’t understand people legitimately hating her.

How does someone qualify to individual event finals at nationals in D3?

They qualify based on their RQS ranking during the regular season. Individual competition at NCGA nationals is entirely separate from the team competition, so gymnasts might qualify to nationals with a full team for the team final (and all-around competition) held on the first day, and then also qualify to the individual event competition held on the second day of the meet.

As an FYI, the majority of those who qualify to the event finals usually end up being gymnasts from one of the six teams that qualified to nationals. NCGA East still has their team qualifier coming up, but WIAC’s was decided last weekend, with La Crosse, Whitewater, and Hamline getting berths…and only four of the 20 individual qualifying spots went to non-team girls (one from Oshkosh, one from Eau Claire, and two from Stout).

How does it work for a gymnast to transfer schools while competing NCAA? Can coaches recruit gymnasts from other programs? Why can’t they compete for a year if they transfer within the same conference?

Gymnasts who want to transfer usually put the feelers out and see if there’s another school out there that could take them. Coaches absolutely can’t try to recruit gymnasts from other programs, but if a gymnast has friends at another school or is otherwise familiar with aspects of other programs, she’ll probably try to look into transferring there, and if the team she’s hoping to join has an opening for something she can contribute, she’ll put in a request to transfer. I’m sure most of the time transfers don’t end up working out, because there are probably many girls who are like “I can add a 9.9 vault to your program!” but the team they try to transfer to is probably like “cool, we need that, but we have zero spots so you’d have to be a walk-on.”

If they transfer within the same conference, they make athletes wait a year because they want to make it harder for swapping to happen. Since teams (across all sports) in the same conference tend to meet up relatively often throughout the year, it would be easy for lots of shady transfer deals to go down, so they try to limit that by saying okay, you can do it, but you also won’t be able to compete for a full year, which is a huuuuge drawback for probably 99.9% of athletes (unless an athlete happens to be injured during that period and won’t get to compete anyway, in which case it just works out for them).

How will Simone Biles’ comeback affect Jade Carey’s position as a potential worlds team athlete if they have such similar strengths?

For the team years, it won’t affect it much, especially since Simone will likely be an all-arounder and Jade will probably be a specialist. On a five-person team with a 5-4-3 qualification format, ideally teams will have three all-arounders and two specialists to split up the remaining four events. The puzzle doesn’t always work out exactly, but with the depth the U.S. has, they’ll probably look to send the three all-arounders, a vault and floor specialist, and a bars and beam specialist (or, if there is no suitable bars and beam specialist, then a vault, beam, and floor specialist and then a specialist for just bars). Assuming Simone is back and ready to go to take an all-around spot, Jade is still the first choice for the vault and floor specialist spot right now. There’s absolutely room for both of them, and having both of them will add so much strength to the team’s vault and floor lineups, the U.S. will be literally unstoppable.

Why are judges all supposed to sit together? Do they all need the same view to have their scores be within a certain margin of the rest? For vault and bars it seems there are a lot of form errors they can’t see from their angle.

I don’t know, man. I thought about that at worlds a lot because for vault, it seemed the judges didn’t see or deduct for things like leg separations at all. Since you can’t really gauge the severity of leg separations from the side angle, that’s why we saw a super clean vault from Sae Miyakawa get the same E score as a horribly messy vault from Maria Paseka, which to this day totally blows my mind, but I always have to remind myself that it’s almost impossible to see just how bad Maria’s leg separation is from the side view. The same goes on bars, where a side view shows handstand angles but not leg separation or flexed feet on most skills.

I guess giving all judges the same vantage point allows for all judges to be consistent in their scoring, because if someone has great handstands on bars but her legs are in a V on all of them, the side judges would be like “10!” and the front-on judges would be like “6!” which I guess would be confusing. But they should be like “okay side judges, this is what you’re looking for, and front judges, this is what you’re looking for.” I mean, it’s a confusing way to do things, but it’s far more accurate than giving judges one angle that doesn’t allow them to see a point or more of deductions in some cases.

Going into 2018 when the U.S. adds new girls onto the national team, who do you think it’ll be? Do you have to be a certain age to be added to the team?

Since the U.S. isn’t sending anyone to Jesolo this year, they have no real reason to add gymnasts onto the national team. They will be selecting a team for Pac Rims, so I’d imagine they’ll have to add juniors to the team for that event, and I’d think Sunisa Lee would be a great addition. I’d also be into adding Kayla DiCello at this point, who has looked great so far this season. Aside from these mini-updates to the team, I don’t see any changes to the team until nationals.

What makes a collegiate head or assistant coach ‘good’? How do they turn successful elites into even cleaner, more consistent performers? Is it a different skill set than elite or level 10 coaches have?

They’re not really teaching skills in the way club coaches are. Some do help gymnasts bring in new skills, but most just help fine-tune what they already have so that they will be in strong competitive shape and in a good position to get as few deductions as possible. Then there’s strategizing for team competitions and making sure your athletes are mentally ready to prepare…the latter is also part of being a J.O. coach but might be different (sometimes more challenging, sometimes less, depending on the person they’re coaching) than coaching a younger teenager, but the strategy side of things isn’t something club coaches really do all that often. Even though there are team competitions at the J.O. level it’s more a collection of scores at that point whereas in college they put lineups together to reflect a legit scoring strategy.

What country do you think produces the best/most consistent technique or foundational basics?

Absolutely the U.S. That’s the strength of the J.O. program…you can take any level 10 kid and throw her into an elite competition and even if her difficulty is far below what most other elites would have, her E scores would be great (and this happens at several invitationals each year, where some clubs bring their level 10s to compete internationally just for fun, and they end up beating all of the actual elites with level 10 routines). I’m also generally impressed with Japan’s foundational skills and when you watch a lot of their lower-level athletes compete domestically each year, you can really see that they have this great depth in terms of having a stockpile of gymnasts who are all really well trained and conditioned.

In the recent quads, the U.S. has been the most impacted by the two-per-country rule but that hasn’t always been the case. Has anyone ever proposed an amendment that says if the athlete qualifies in medal position (like Gabby Douglas in 2016) then and only then three from one country can compete in the final? If I was competing at that level I’d want to know if I could beat the best in the world in the final.

I don’t know if it’s been officially proposed, but I know a lot of fans and coaches and athletes have wanted things to be this way for a long time. I think anyone who qualifies within a certain point amount (one point maybe?) of the third-place qualifier should get to qualify regardless of how many from that country have already qualified because if that athlete can get that close, then she is a legitimate medal contender and should be allowed to contend for that medal. Knocking Gabby out of the competition in 2016 and Jordyn Wieber out in 2012 is absolutely detrimental to the sport because what could’ve been a much tougher battle for the podium each year ended up being less exciting, which is what happens when you take out legitimate medal contenders.

I am a big believer in making things ‘fair’ for other countries to get into finals, but it almost never works out that non-team smaller program gymnasts end up benefiting from the two-per-country rule — it’s almost always larger-program gymnasts who fell in qualifications and get to make it into the final not on any sort of merit of their own. If they want more ‘diversity’ in finals, two-per-country doesn’t help at all. They’d have to do one-per-country, which I’d be hella against from the perspective of having weaker competition at the top, or they’d have to open the all-around final to 36 gymnasts instead of 24, which would benefit a great number of smaller programs.

What are the main differences between the J.O. and NCAA codes?

A small number of skill values are different, but deductions in NCAA are far less than they are in J.O., where judges are much more strict. NCAA judges don’t really care as much about things like leg separation, arched backs or piked hips in a layout, soft knees and elbows, and all of the other ‘little things’ we might not see or care about in a ‘perfect’ routine. Pretty much every routine that has been declared ‘perfect’ by judges this season has had many issues like this that would absolutely get deducted in J.O. but in NCAA they focus more on bigger, more noticeable issues like short handstands on bars, if leaps don’t reach 180, chests down or wild steps on landings, etc. Someone like Myia Hambrick can get a 10 on floor despite basically doing a super piked double layout, and someone like Maggie Nichols who sticks her vaults with her feet separated will get a 10 because the ‘overall picture’ is basically there. In J.O., they don’t care if you stuck all of your landings and looked good ‘overall.’ They will hammer you for the little things just like they do in elite.

What strategy do you think the U.S. will use for Pan Ams in 2019? Do you think they’ll use the B team even though they can get individual Olympic spots?

The Pan Am Games in 2019 don’t serve as the Olympic qualifier — the Pan American Championships in 2020 do. Anyone who competed at worlds in 2019 would be eligible to compete at Pan Ams in 2020, but they wouldn’t be allowed to qualify a spot. However, the worlds alternate could qualify a spot at Pan Ams, and even if the U.S. brought along a full B team, it wouldn’t matter because the level of competition at Pan Ams will be low enough so that a U.S. B team would likely out-perform the A teams from other countries, just as they did in 2011, 2015, and in other years that the U.S. has sent a B team to either the championships or the games.

Also, I should note that because the U.S. is likely to qualify a full team to the Olympics in 2018, not 2019, only gymnasts who competed on the 2018 worlds team wouldn’t be eligible to qualify individual competitors, but members of the 2019 worlds team who weren’t members of the 2018 team would still be eligible. Say the U.S. team qualifies this year, and then four members of the 2018 team also compete on the 2019 worlds team along with a first-year senior in 2019. If all five of these gymnasts are also named to the Pan Ams team in 2020, the four who competed on both worlds teams would be ineligible to qualify an individual spot, but that new senior who only competed in 2019 could qualify an individual spot.

I read that Viktoria Komova’s mom was a beam judge at the Voronin Cup. Is this something that can happen at worlds or the Olympics? It seems she wouldn’t be able to be impartial.

It definitely would be considered a conflict of interest at a major international competition. For meets like Voronin and other smaller invitationals around the world, they don’t care too much about this, which is how Anna Li is able to judge her sister at the J.O. level, why one of Aly Raisman’s coaches could judge her at nationals, etc. At these levels, there’s less on the line, and it would also be quite clear if a judge was playing favorites with her sister, child, or athlete so there usually isn’t too much tomfoolery. But each country’s judge for worlds or the Olympics (and world cup events) is pre-approved by the FIG so any conflict of interest situations would be looked at beforehand. If Vika’s mom was Russia’s top judge and they submitted her to be their judge for worlds or the Olympics with Vika also submitted as an athlete, I can guarantee the FIG would be like “lmao you’re kidding, right?”

Is there any way to rewatch the Rio competitions? I can’t find them anywhere.

I’ve answered this about a million times and will say again that officially, the competition is still hosted on the NBC Olympics website. I can’t link to bootleg versions that have ended up on the web, but they’re out there. I just googled olympics 2016 gymnastics all-around and clicked videos and literally multiple full videos showed up.

Does the alternate rule that states an alternate can sub in to help in the team final seem like it could be abused in 2020 if a team has four all-arounders who can do each event in qualifying, and then for team finals, an Aly Raisman type who has an individual spot gets subbed in for the scores she can bring on vault, beam and floor?

At the Olympics, alternates can only be subbed in prior to qualifications (like within 24 hours of qualifications or something like that). They absolutely won’t allow gymnasts to swap back and forth from individual spots to team spots between qualifications and the team final.

I don’t think it’s fair that Tasha Schwikert was left off the Olympic team in 2004. She was a two-time national champion and led the team to medals in the same quad. She was also the only gymnast with Olympic experience so it would’ve made sense to have her on the team in Terin Humphrey’s place, and she could have medaled in the bars final. What do you think?

I mean, based on how everyone looked going into Athens, Tasha definitely wasn’t one of the strongest and it was pretty clear why she was left behind, as were some other gymnasts who could’ve fit the puzzle and who outperformed her either in the all-around or on some events. Being a two-time national champion in years leading up to the Olympics is meaningless if you’re not at that same level going into the Games…choosing an Olympic team unfortunately isn’t about rewarding those who were strong contenders all quad, it’s about choosing who is in the best shape at that moment. It would’ve been great to see her go after all of the strong work she did that quad, but you can say the same about a number of gymnasts every quad. Unfortunately for Tasha, there was a lot of depth in the Olympic year and she didn’t show that she had something they couldn’t live without in Athens. In hindsight, based on how everyone performed in Athens, Courtney McCool may have been someone they could’ve replaced with Tasha, but we can’t make decisions in hindsight and had no idea of knowing this would’ve happened with Courtney not meeting expectations there. Maybe Tasha would’ve showed up to Athens looking like a star, but based on the lead-up to the Games, it wasn’t likely.

What would you suggest I say to people who keep trying to convince me He Kexin was underage in Beijing?

Just roll your eyes and be like “so you read People magazine ten years ago?” and explain that actual fans of the sport had been watching her long before she showed up in Beijing, and that it shockingly was never an issue until she started beating Americans.

Did they change the rules this quad so an all-around medalist at a pre-Olympic worlds would get an automatic spot at the following year’s Olympic Games?

They changed the rules so that gymnasts who don’t qualify as part of full teams at worlds in 2018 or 2019 will qualify automatically from their all-around finish at worlds in 2019 rather than having to move on to attempt to qualify at a test event. Had this been the case in 2015, Larisa Iordache would’ve qualified an individual spot straight out of Glasgow, and because the spot would be nominative, it would’ve meant the country couldn’t take that spot and give it to someone else.

If someone qualifies to the Olympics thanks to an event finals medal at worlds, can they only compete that event at the Olympics?

No. This was originally the rule, but I think it was going to be way too confusing, so they changed it so that no matter how an individual qualifies, she can compete any event(s) she wants at the Olympics. An all-arounder can show up in Tokyo and only compete bars if that’s what she wants, and someone who qualifies through winning the overall bars world cup title can compete all-around.

Why is David Grooms no longer on the Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team roster?

I’m not sure…I hadn’t heard anything about it.

I know it’s a deduction to land jumps on beam with your feet substantially apart, but is it one to start a jump with your feet and legs apart? Would a gymnast get deducted for connecting a split jump after their side aerial without hesitation if her feet don’t come together beforehand?

I think if it’s done out of connection, it’s not a deduction because in order for it to be a connection, you wouldn’t be able to land a side aerial with your feet apart, then move them together, and then jump. And since a side aerial is supposed to be landed with your feet apart, there wouldn’t be a deduction for the landing on the side aerial or anything. I don’t think the judges would be able to take anything in this case.

How many people are normally on a college gymnastics team? Is there a limit?

There’s a scholarship limit, which is 12 full scholarships per team, but a team can have basically as many walk-ons as it feels like bringing in. Some won’t bring in any walk-ons but others will take anyone who fits their standard and could potentially contribute, which really helps them out if they lose depth due to injuries to scholarship girls. I can’t tell you how many times UCLA has been saved by walk-ons.

What is your view on the development of British gymnasts, and the results of the espoirs and juniors this year? Do you see any standouts?

I don’t see any standouts in the way we saw girls like Amy Tinkler, Ellie Downie, and others stand out when they were espoirs or juniors. There are some talented girls that stand out above the rest at these levels, like Taeja James last year and Amelie Morgan this year, but no one is quite at a level that will make them stand out internationally. With espoirs it’s hard to tell, but with juniors (and new seniors this year) I don’t see any at their current levels who could threaten any of the veterans making pushes for Tokyo. I think unless some of the younger kids end up adding difficulty or improving on form, this quad will still be all about the vets.

What were the deductions in McKayla Maroney’s vault in the team final at the 2012 Olympic Games?

Well, we don’t know for certain because we don’t have the actual breakdown from the judges, but I’ve always guessed it was the slight hip pike, soft knees, and ankle separation she has in the second part (like the very last twist) of her flight. I think she also landed a tiny bit off-center? Like, a hair. But the biggest deduction definitely came from her body line…you might not be able to see it, but judges would definitely notice that her angle wasn’t perfectly straight from head to toe.

Are you thinking of writing a continuation to your book? I loved the first two!

Yes! It should be coming out soon. I had to rewrite a small part of it at the request of my editor, and it’s back in for a final round of touch-ups now so hoping it’ll come out…sometime soon?

Do gymnasts get deducted for arching their backs before inbar and stalder skills?

Yes…and if they don’t, they should.

I always assumed the dance series on beam had to be two jumps or leaps but it says only one has to be one. Even J.O. doesn’t require that. Does anyone do a dance series with turns or other elements?

As long as one of the dance elements is a leap or jump that reaches 180, the other connected element can be any dance element. Most still prefer to do a simple jump series to get their CR, like a split jump to sissone, which is the least that would be required in J.O. as well. It’s actually way easier to connect to simple jumps like that than it is to connect a leap or jump into a turn, which is why most don’t do it. Some gymnasts do have a split leap into a turn, because not only would this fulfill the CR, but it would also create some bonus from CV. Sanne Wevers for example does an L turn to a pirouette to a double pirouette into a split leap, which would count for her CR…but if she wobbled out of her double pirouette and couldn’t get the connection into the leap, she’d likely make up for it with a simple jump series thrown in afterwards. That’s the risk about these kinds of connections, because if you miss your planned CR dance series, you’d lose not only the CV between the two, but you’d also lose 0.5 in CR whereas if you’re doing two simple A jumps connected, as most do in elite and J.O., there’s basically a 99% chance you’ll easily hit and connect the series every single time.

Let’s say a gymnast from a country that pays its athletes (e.g. China) got into an American university. Would she be able to compete in NCAA?

No, since she is making money from her sport, she wouldn’t be eligible for NCAA.

Is Chiaki Hatakeda eligible for Tokyo? Are there any other junior or new senior Japanese women to look out for this quad?

Yup! She’s a 2004 baby. 🙂 She’s definitely one to watch, and I’d also keep my eyes on Mana Oguchi, a new senior this year, as well as one of last year’s new seniors, Kiko Kuwajima, and I also really like Yuna Endo. Sometimes it can be hard to tell which Japanese juniors will end up being productive at the senior level, but these three all have a strong shot and there are some others who have been standouts in recent years but these are definitely the big ones as of right now.

On Ashton Locklear’s Snapchat, there are some Chinese gymnasts visiting her gym and training with them. What’s that all about?

Often many countries will do exchange programs or international visits just to pick up new training techniques or see how other countries are conditioning or whatever. Often coaches will have connections to programs around the world, so while these exchanges aren’t really done on the national level in the U.S., you might see a team of French girls at a random club in Texas, or German girls in Ohio, or in this case (and in the case of Chow’s hosting members of the Chinese national team around Christmas), Chinese girls in North Carolina or Iowa. It’s great for the club gymnasts to get to train with international-level gymnasts, and it’s great for the international gymnasts who get to learn some of the techniques used in the U.S. After training with Chow, the Chinese team has begun amping up its leg conditioning program because they were all shocked at how much training is done in that sense.

Why are squat-ons banned in elite? Could a really tiny gymnast who legitimately can’t get enough swing to the high bar get an exception?

Mostly because they break up the flow of a bars set, and the whole point of bars (right now, anyway) is to have the endurance and grace to fluidly work from skill to skill to skill without a break before dismounting. Standing on the low bar breaks up the routine into two pieces, essentially, and a gymnast who does a transition like this gets to pause for a second and take a breath before continuing her routine. I’ve definitely seen tiny gymnasts struggle with transitions to the high bar, but something like a toe shoot isn’t that hard for them…and many countries have modified rules for their espoir/hopes/youth gymnasts who are like ten and legitimately baby-sized that allow them to jump to the high bar without a penalty.

Why don’t we ever see two back handsprings into a layout stepout in elite?

We see this all the time! It’s not as valuable as a back handspring into two layout stepouts, but two back handsprings into a layout stepout is actually a fairly common flight series for gymnasts who don’t quite have the difficulty for something a bit beyond this, but who also didn’t want to just do a simple back handspring into a layout stepout. After classics in 2014, I looked at the most common skills and combos for each event, and one senior and seven juniors had this series, compared to two seniors and ten juniors who had the back handspring into two layout stepouts (and the majority, 8 seniors and 20 juniors, had the simple back handspring to layout stepout). Out of all of the flight series at that meet, this series was third-most popular in 2014 and is still fairly common today.

How can gymnasts do a side aerial to layout stepout series, since if a righty does a side aerial they land with their left foot in front? Do they switch feet or do a skill on their bad leg?

It’s not usually an issue for them to do the layout stepout on their bad leg, and most will train it on both legs anyway. The side aerial might be harder for gymnasts to do on their bad leg on beam, but again, most train both legs off the beam and I don’t know of anyone who has truly struggled making the adjustment.

If they still had the Perfect 10 scoring system, how well would Ashton Locklear do? Did she go pro?

I think she’d definitely be at the higher end of scores on bars and probably would’ve been a medal contender at worlds last year had she not made mistakes in the final. She basically went pro; because she had back issues, she decided college gym wasn’t best for her since she couldn’t handle the constant competitions, and since she doesn’t need to maintain her eligibility, she’s able to take advantage of professional opportunities when they come along. As she’s not an Olympian and hasn’t been a top contender on the world scene, I doubt she has major endorsement deals knocking down her door, but she got to get paid for the post-Olympic tour and she can also do little ads here and there when things come up.

Why did Sienna Robinson switch from Salcianu to Browns?

I don’t know the exact reason and have never talked to her or her coaches about it, but considering Maile O’Keefe has been so in the spotlight since winning her first national title in 2016, it’s possible that she (or her parents most likely) decided she wasn’t getting enough personal attention from the coaches since she wasn’t the number one kid in the gym? That happens often, where usually someone’s parents want her to be the best in the gym so she gets the greatest amount of attention from the top coaching staff, and having another high-ranked elite there can put the idea in their heads that she won’t get as much attention as she would if she was the top elite or only elite. I’m not saying this is definitely why Sienna switched, but since I don’t know for sure, I’m just hypothesizing since this is often the case. Either way, she seems happy and like she’s enjoying herself at her new gym and that’s what matters!

If an athlete redshirts an academic season, what class are they considered academically? That would make five years instead of four so what would happen academically?

Academically things aren’t always straightforward for anyone in college, but for athletes especially. When I was a student, because I took more than the required number of credits in most semesters and also took a couple of summer classes, based on credits, I was technically a senior in the middle of my junior year and I was able to graduate a semester early. For many athletes, they may take it easy on credits during the competition season, so someone could finish her freshman year and technically be a sophomore as a second-year student, but credits-wise she’d still be a freshman. I’d say a good majority of athletes take closer to five years than four before they’ve finished their academic careers, and so they’ll end up in school a semester or a full year longer than they were actually competing…which works out if they get injured and end up redshirting a year, because more often than not, they likely still have credits to get through. Some athletes are speedy with their credits, but across most sports I always see athletes who end up going at least a semester longer than they were ‘expected’ to go. Credits can be super tricky in college, and you can take four classes a semester but still end up with a weird amount of credits that throw off your class, though usually someone who might credits-wise be a senior would still be called a junior if they were in their third year, and someone who is a sophomore credits-wise but is in her third year would be called a junior. So beyond redshirting, college is a disaster, basically. But usually when someone redshirts, they’ll be considered a ‘redshirt [insert class]’ athletically until they graduate.

Who do you think could perform Aly Raisman’s opening pass? I dream about Thais Fidelis doing one.

Thais could definitely do it, and I think Ellie Downie looks like she’s working up to it as well. These are definitely the two I’d want to see it from the most.

Why wasn’t Alyona Shchennikova on the U.S. national team in 2017? Is the national team smaller in a post-Olympic year?

The national team in any year is automatically the top six all-arounders at the senior level, and the top six all-arounders at the junior level. At the senior level, if a specialist stands out as someone who is likely to be a big contributor internationally, she’ll be added to the national team, but they generally don’t go beyond the top six in terms of all-arounders until later in the year (like, maybe someone had a bad nationals and didn’t make the team but by worlds she was looking much stronger and so they added her at the worlds camp). Because Alyona was eighth all-around at nationals in 2017, she wasn’t automatically named to the team, and she also didn’t show that she’d be contributing to the program internationally, so they basically had no reason to add her.

In the Olympic year they go beyond the top six all-arounders because they like to bring 15 gymnasts to Olympic Trials, and since everyone who makes Olympic Trials is named to the national team, you’ll see a 15-person senior national team in the Olympic year. Most of these are just in name only, though, as probably at least 75% of those girls in any given quad either retire, go to NCAA, or go on hiatus following the Games. From the national team named in 2016, only two continued competing into 2017 and actually maintained their national team status (and the stipend that comes with it).

Is every world cup from 2018 included in the qualifications for the Olympics?

No. The Olympic qualification series starts with the 2018-2019 world cup, which begins with Cottbus in November of this year. The current world cup series is part of the 2017-2018 season, and it does not qualify anyone to Tokyo.

How many countries can send a team to worlds this year?

Any country registered and in good standing with the FIG can send a full team to worlds this year.

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Article by Lauren Hopkins

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45 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. We only had to deal with 1 gymnast missing out in 2012 + 2016. But, with top teams potentially allowing 4+ gymnasts to do the all around during qualifications at Tokyo, the media is going to go insane if 6 Americans qualify in the top 12 all around (which is possible), and only 2 compete. The 2 per country rule is going to be really heartbreaking in 2020 when federations can’t push certain gymnasts out like Laurie Hernandez, but outside of the US, I imagine most countries won’t send 4 AA with them, as they’ll need specialists more for scoring potential.


  2. About the China athletes question, I think there’s a fuzzy line with the NCAA. Isn’t there a rule that says government funding is OK? Joseph Schooling basically had a $1 million dollar grant from the Singaporean government (before he was a gold medalist) and is still a swimmer at the University of Texas.


    • Hmmm, maybe that could be okay then? But I’m wondering if a grant is different from a legit salary? Also, most of the Chinese girls with their salaries are also taking in endorsement money as part of those salaries so that’s not as flexible…like I know their sportswear brands tend to pay them on top of their government salary.


  3. Ughhh imagine a team of Simone, Maile/Emma, Morgan, Jade, and Gabby P.
    VT: Morgan, Jade, Simone
    UB: Simone, Morgan, Gabby
    BB: Maile/Emma, Morgan, Simone (Gabby P maybe?)
    FX: Morgan, Jade, Simone
    Watch out, rest of the world!


    • Yessssss or Simone, Ragan, Morgan, Jade and Gabby

      VT: Ragan, Jade, Simone (Morgan)
      UB: Simone, Morgan, Gabby (Ragan)
      BB: Simone, Morgan, Ragan (Jade)
      FX: Ragan, Simone, Jade (Morgan)

      Liked by 1 person

      • UGHHHH too much depthhhhh. We also can’t forget about Kara Eaker (her beam is literally FABULOUS) or a healthy Riley Mccusker if she happens to outperform Gabby Perea. She could easily be subbed in Gabby’s spot.


        • Give me Riley’s floor over Ragan’s any day.

          Of course, as far as I’m concerned, give me Riley over Ragan in general any day….. better execution and lines by far.


        • oh yes, I agree 100%. But in terms of usefulness for team USA, Ragan could potentially do Vault, bars, beam AND floor in the tf. She could also nab an AA spot. Riley could be a lovely Kyla Ross type gymnast, but her vault and floor aren’t usable for TFs. Of course, aesthetically speaking, Riley is far superior to Ragan, and I love that she’s kinda an underdog type gymnast, but Ragan has a major edge going into this season. Not to mention Riley just got back from injury. I want/NEED good things for RIley though.


  4. There’s definitely a lot missing here about Shayla and her mom. When I’m less sick, I’ll add more. But, I think most hold pretty strong vendettas about other girls who commented about the China girls — even to the point of “Okay, calm down”. But Shayla was racist to everyone, not just confident.


    • See, but I don’t think most people who hate her know about this stuff. I’ve only heard inklings but haven’t seen any of the real bad stuff with my own eyeballs and neither has anyone else. Many people do hate Shayla because of her comments when she was going to Georgia, which is like, yeah I guess it was like, a super cocky thing to say but if any dude said it we’d be his biggest fan. I haven’t really heard of any of the racist stuff, at least from a credible source, so if it did happen that is a legitimate reason to dislike her but again, that doesn’t seem to be something that people are super aware of.


      • I don’t know is this is even true…. but I have read the following :
        -She got kicked off the 2008 tour for underage drinking-
        -On a recruitment trip to UCLA, Miss Val took back her scholarship offer and kicked Shayla and her mom out of her car in LA traffic because Shayla and her mom made racist comments about how there were too many n-words and q-words in LA-
        -Sam added that her favorite memory in Beijing was Shayla mocking a Chinese man saying “someting vewwwy woong”


        • I was actually fine with Shayla until this “You Aksed” came out & now I guess I hate her after reading the comments.


        • I’ve heard that car story so many times but found out it’s just a rumor hahaha. But I definitely know the history of the Facebook and MySpace comments between the girls on the 2008 team, and it was literally all of them, as well as family members like Alicia’s brother. Hopefully they’ve all changed since then but that was pretty terrible.


  5. With the 2008 Chinese women’s teams there’s literally tonnes of footage of several of thems years back where they couldn’t possibly be underaged. I watched a clip where Deng Linlin and Jiang Yuyuan were interviewed as children and they didn’t look like infants or toddlers to me.
    With the age of physical peaking for some countries like China or especially Russia I liked it when they had 15 as minimum age. 14 seems too young I get that, but 16 seems a bit arbitrary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I found the whole underage thing with He Kexin in 2008 horrible for the poor girl. If she was really underage, then journalists and fans were harrassing a 14 year old girl who had no say in a decision her country and coaches made for her. If she was not underage, basically everyone was calling her a liar at every single interview. Tough position to be in, one way or the other through no fault of her own.


      • It happened all the time in the 80s and 90s. I remember Silivas said that she was 13 in 1985 and they literally told her “you’re 15” and gave her a passport with a falsified age so she could compete. Bicherova, Mostepanova, and I think another Romanian (I forgot who) have all said that their coaches did a similar type of thing so that they could compete underage.


  6. Thoughts: I think usually the LOSOs after the side aerials usually take off with their bad leg in front but they would still put their good leg down first, so it wouldn’t be completely a bad side LOSO.

    Also I think part of being a good college coach is to act sort of as mentors to the gymnasts, since college is a new experience and everything. Miss Val’s blog posts about how it feels like they pick up the pieces of what’s left of gymnasts after elite attest to the importance of college coaches.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For side aerials/front aerials i do my good leg in front when taking off and i land on my bad leg first. For LOSOs if its from a bhs stepout i land on my good leg from the bhs stepout so i naturally land on my good leg for LOSOs. What i would find weird is doing Aerial LOSO because id need to basically do a switch split in my LOSO, or id need to land bad leg on my LOSO which would be hella weird.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Shayla also isn’t known for having the *best* judgement on social media. Granted, she down right polite compared to most of the trolls that hang around twitter, but her online behavior definitly rubs some people the wrong way.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Re the Chinese giving money to their gymnasts….don’t almost all countries do this? Or do you mean that they pay money for medals rather than just giving a training stipend? If receiving government money to train and compete makes you ‘pro’ then doesn’t this apply to almost everyone? Giulia Steingruber, as an example which immediately comes to mind, receives a shit ton of money and stuff from sponsors as well as her training stipend. Does that make her pro? I don’t really get what pro means and have been wondering for a while so if anyone can explain that would be great!


  9. I had no idea that Shayla Worley even did NCAA until I looked up videos. Now I know why. It’s actually a little funny that she was like “I’m going to break all of Kupets’ records” seeing how inconsistent she was. Definitely talented and had the goods to do it, but didn’t translate into major collegiate success.


  10. About the Gymnastics Videos From Rio. I didn’t know you had answered the question a million times, I religiously read you and had not read about it. Second if I don’t live in the United States the NBC Streaming is not available in the region. And third I agree while there are videos of Rio its not like London or before where you could find almost literally every routine on Youtube Rio is seriously limited, sadly.


    • I didn’t know this had been answered before either. I know I’ve done quite a bit of googling, including the same term you just put in your answer, and I’ve never been able to find any full videos. (I realize, of course, that you can’t and I am not asking that you link to bootleg versions. I wouldn’t do it if it was my blog!) It’s just silly because there are entire non-NBC broadcasts from London on the Olympic YouTube channel.

      I really appreciate you answering all these questions and have learned a lot!


  11. That’s what you get when the leadership of USAG has literally sold their soul for gold medals.


  12. Also remember that with Courtney McCool they had promised the top *TWO* all-arounders spots on the Olympic team. My family had a spreadsheet going to choose who should go and were really nervous when she was ending up in the second spot, because we knew she wasn’t the best choice. It’s since been changed to only the top all-arounder, I’ve always assumed because of this.


  13. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: Buckle your safety belts | The Gymternet

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