You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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Asia D’Amato

It’s time for the 216th 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.

Have you ever seen the video of Asia D’Amato hitting the Amanar? Do you think she’ll ever be capable of competing it? Or maybe Giorgia Villa? I’m thrilled and hopeful about the first potential Amanar for Italy!

Yes I have. I think Asia is looking very likely to make the upgrade competitively…her DTY has so much freaking power and she’s so consistent with it. I don’t think we’ll see her start throwing it until she becomes a senior next year, but I do think it’s coming and is probably more realistic than Giorgia adding one, if only because while her DTY is good most of the time, it’s not quite as solid as Asia’s. But I’d honestly be surprised if we DIDN’T get an Amanar from Asia at this point, especially now that she’s also doing a Lopez. She’s clearly gearing up for a vault finals spot or medal at worlds next year and the Olympics in 2020!

Do you know how the code/judging worked in the 1950s and 1960s? Was the perfect 10 system in place? Were there acro and dance skills?

I don’t know the ins and outs of the code, but scores were out of a 10 and gymnasts did have to show a combination of acro and dance. Floor routines were more dance-y and actually started out as basically an early form of a rhythmic routine. In the 50s, they’d do ‘portable apparatus’ routines as a team using clubs or ribbons or whatever, and floor routines might have some simple tumbling elements, but they were more about artistry and performance value because floor was supposed to be ‘feminine’ as a contrast to the powerful tumbling done by the men.

Given the backlash that North Korean gymnasts get at home if they show outward warmth to other specific countries, are gymnasts told to keep a polite distance from the North Korean competitors out of respect?

I don’t think so. I’ve never seen gymnasts really go out of their way to distance themselves from the North Korean competitors, and I know the North Koreans have definitely hung out with the South Koreans at several events (including most notably Lee Eun Ju taking a selfie with Hong Un Jong in 2016), and many of the North Korean gymnasts are also relatively close with the Chinese gymnasts.

I’ve also seen gymnasts from around the world approaching Hong Un Jong and taking photos with her, and she’s always been more than gracious. I’m sure even though the North Korean athletes grow up thinking the west is bad and that other countries all want to hurt them, they probably realize pretty quickly during their international experiences that this isn’t really the case. Some might be leery at first but I’ve always seen them behave in a friendly way with everyone.

Was Becky Downie injured in 2012? I’m surprised she wasn’t on the team given that she has to be one of the most decorated British gymnasts probably ever, aside from Beth Tweddle.

Becky ruptured her Achilles in early 2011 and although she made it back in time to compete bars at worlds that year, her other events took longer to get back and she wasn’t one of the strongest options when she finally got back into competition just in time for nationals and trials. With Beth Tweddle, Rebecca Tunney, and Hannah Whelan locks for the team, they had holes to fill on vault and beam, and Becky wasn’t a top earner on either of those. They ended up taking Imogen Cairns and Jennifer Pinches for these events, with Pinches also able to contribute on floor, though Becky was named an alternate along with Danusia Francis, who was hoping for a beam spot.

Who have been some of your favorite male gymnasts to watch, and why?

My favorite male gymnasts in the past year or so have been Yul Moldauer, Kenzo Shirai, Carlos Edriel Yulo, Ferhat Arican, Lee Chih Kai, Max Whitlock, Milad Karimi and pretty much all of the Dutch men, especially Bart Deurloo, Epke Zonderland, Bram Verhofstad, and Casimir Schmidt, all of whom seem like hilarious weirdos.

Have you ever seen two gymnasts bump into each other during floor warm-ups?

No…they’re usually really good at communicating who gets to go and when. I’ve seen them yell “can I go?” or motion to one another to decide who got to go next, so you never see two start tumbling at once from opposite ends of the floor or anything. Occasionally you see people get close to each other when they’re working on leaps, turns, and choreo in the corners of the floor where no one’s tumbling, but I think they generally have a strong sense of awareness and they’re able to work everything out with one another pretty easily.

Do you think there will ever be a limitation to the amount of leap series gymnasts can do on floor? I’m tired of seeing routines where they break choreography to march about and do leaps that have nothing to do with the music.

I don’t think so…you really don’t see more than two leap series anyway, though? I think these are the least of our concerns on floor, to be honest, especially when we have turns that take legit five seconds to prep where the gymnasts just kind of stand there breathing and getting mentally ready to execute something that takes less than a second. THAT to me really disturbs the flow of a routine, whereas most leaps done in a series at least attempt to follow some sort of logical movement.

What’s the difference between a Grigoras, a Barani, and a Produnova on beam?

Barani is a word that most just use to describe any front half skill, whether it’s on vault, beam, or floor. On beam, you can technically refer to any front half as a barani, though some front half skills have subtle differences and each differentiation is named for a different gymnast.

A Grigoras is when you do a front tuck into a half twist just before landing, compared to the Maaranen, which is a front flip that twists early, turning it into a back tuck, and then a Produnova is a piked Maaranen. In the past, a Grigoras used to be considered more difficult than a Maaranen, but now no matter how you do a barani on beam — early twist, late twist, tucked, or piked — you now get an F either way and the code doesn’t differentiate anymore between them.

I normally just say ‘barani’ or ‘front tuck half’ when I’m talking about a front half on beam, because it’s the term most people understand, and god forbid I see a front half and call it a Grigoras but the twist was a half second earlier than I saw from across the arena! It’s sparked many a lively comment debate in the past. 😉

Why did the bars move farther apart between the mid 80s and the early 90s? It’s made bars an entirely different event now with so many skills not possible anymore.

As female gymnasts got stronger and more powerful over time, they grew to be able to do much more difficult skills across all events, with bars included. The old-timey routines with the bars close together were much simpler physically, though they were still technically demanding, but when female gymnasts began hoping to do more MAG-style same-bar releases as well as more challenging transitions, the technical committee decided to move the bars further apart to literally give the women more room to fly, increasing the level of difficulty on the event and changing it into something totally new and different.

If a double layout and a full-twisting double tuck are both D skills on bars, then why do gymnasts bother doing the double layout when you can’t connect anything to it and get CV like you can with a full-twisting double tuck?

You can connect into a double layout and several gymnasts have…it’s just harder to do. It’s still pretty rare to see gymnasts connect into a full-in tuck, first of all, because a majority of gymnasts need to giant swing into a dismount just to get the height needed to execute and land it well. Some gymnasts who are weaker at twisting elements prefer a double layout, whereas other gymnasts might not be powerful enough for a double layout, and so a full-in is easier for them. Double layouts generally tend to be easier for shorter gymnasts who have more room to flip around the entire height of their bodies twice, and these gymnasts who find double layouts easy would find adding a toe full or stalder full into the dismount challenging but doable. It’s the same for gymnasts who find full-ins easy — the toe full or stalder full or whatever adds an extra challenge that most can’t do well, but it’s still possible for them to do it.

Where do you see UCLA going in the next couple of years?

I think now that they finally don’t have any injuries, they’re clearly showing this year that they’re a force to be reckoned with and are a major contender for the national title, which is something we should be able to expect from them in the next few years as well, if they continue to stay healthy. Everyone seems shocked by their success this year but I’ve said every year for the past several years that they would’ve been national contenders each year if they actually got to use the full extent of their depth. Unfortunately it just never worked out for them, but it’s pretty clear with everyone in good shape this year that they can do what other top teams can do.

How do you think Peng Peng Lee would’ve placed at the 2012 Olympics had she not been injured?

She was expected to be the top Canadian all-arounder on the Olympic team, and based on how she competed domestically and at smaller international competitions that year, I’d say a top-ten all-around final spot would be realistic, or top fifteen at the very least.

What’s the point of going elite if you probably won’t be given any international assignments? Won’t you only be training for two competitions a year in the U.S.?

Most gymnasts who go elite hope that even if they’re not currently the strongest at that level, eventually they’ll get to that point and continue to put in the time and effort to make that dream come true. Just look at girls like Margzetta Frazier, someone who has been on the elite scene for five years but even though she initially didn’t seem like someone who would step up and be a big threat, she’s now one of the top seniors in the country after upping her game. Others simply just love competing at the elite level, especially as juniors where they get lots of opportunities to attend developmental camps if they’re not at the top of the game.

At the senior level you generally see elites who are established national team level contenders, but at the junior level you see tons of young talent and even if the majority of them don’t have a shot at national assignments, they want to stay at the elite level until they either (a) no longer want to do it, or (b) have their hard work pay off and eventually reach a higher level (which is why the senior field is usually half or even a third of the size of the junior field).

Not everyone is going to come into elite leading the pack, but without those girls who hang on hoping to get better, there would be no depth, so girls who look promising are given incentives to stick around even if they’re not currently national team material. That, plus getting to say you were an elite gymnast in the U.S. — something that no more than about 80 girls at any given time can claim — is a huge deal, especially when looking into colleges. Elites, national team members or not, basically get their picks at top programs in the NCAA.

Is there a correct way of doing a Rufolva? Svetlana Khorkina kind of does a ¾ and rotates herself with her arms on the beam for the last ¼, and the Chinese women literally fly on theirs and don’t touch the beam until the very end. I like the latter version more!

Both would be considered correct, but I do think the latter is more aesthetically pleasing and that’s what I prefer as well! I think the majority do it Svetlana’s way from what I’ve seen, but goodness, the girls who compete the twist in the air and then just float down to the beam are so magical.

Does the FIG ever give its reasoning for removing skills from the code?

Not really…I think honestly sometimes they just make mistakes and remove things by accident, hahaha. I mean, in some cases, it’s because a skill is no longer something they consider a skill (as with the Liukin, which is now considered two skills connected rather than just one though her name is back in the code now which is interesting?) or because it’s banned, but given the number of spelling errors and other mistakes with names in the code, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the names that disappear are done by accident.

Also, sometimes there are small differences between skills, as I talked about above with the Maaranen vs the Grigoras, and while these small differences were once reason to have two separate skills, now they might not be, and so one of those names will just disappear, as it happened with Maaranen’s skill no longer being in the code. They definitely need to keep a better, more complete database of everything.

How do judges judge leaps on floor when the gymnast is directly facing them so they can’t see the split degree?

It’s still possible to see from that angle if something is at 180 or not just by the angle of the legs, so even if it’s not exact, they would still definitely be able to tell if something isn’t quite at 180. I usually sit at an awkward angle looking toward the floor and I’ve never had a problem seeing when something looked off. It’s never even crossed my mind! I’d imagine the judges being even closer and at an even better angle than me don’t really find it hard to figure out, even when something is front-on.

Since team all-arounders and individual all-arounders would just two-per-country each other out in 2020, wouldn’t it make more sense for the U.S. to send specialists than to send six all-arounders?

I think assuming they qualify both individual spots, they’ll likely send one all-arounder who could also make an event final, and then one true specialist. Using the alternate from 2016 as an example (I’ll just leave the five on the team even though there’d technically only be four of them in 2020), they could’ve taken MyKayla Skinner as the back-up all-arounder who could also legitimately have medaled on vault, and then Ashton Locklear as the true specialist there just for bars. MyKayla (or the version of her in 2020) wouldn’t be likely to make the all-around final, but they’d still be in contention for a final elsewhere while serving as a backup all-arounder for the team situation should someone get injured.

How did Maggie Nichols factor in for Rio before her injury?

I honestly didn’t really see her making a five-person team with all of the depth, so before she had been injured, I saw her as kind of the perfect alternate who could go up and put up a solid score on every single event if needed, even if she wasn’t a top-two choice on any of them. On a six-person team, she would’ve made it for sure, but a perfectly healthy Maggie likely wouldn’t have gotten in over any of the five who did on a five-person team. If one of those five ended up getting injured, a healthy Maggie would’ve been my first choice for a replacement, but unfortunately for her she just didn’t have any standout events in the way the others did, which sounds so crazy to say because she was so good at all of them, but just not like, top-two good on any. The one spot I could’ve seen her realistically taking was the one that ultimately went to Aly Raisman, so had Maggie been healthy and had Aly continued to struggle with consistency, I think Maggie could’ve found her niche there as an all-arounder with floor as a standout, but if both Aly and Maggie were performing at the top of their ability, I still think Aly would’ve won out.

Why do NCAA gymnasts keep their double front bars dismounts despite having trouble sticking?

I always think about this whenever I see a double front. Some do have great control over their landings, but the ones who don’t always confuse me because most end up taking at least two steps out of them, which really eats away at their scores. I do think some gymnasts prefer double fronts because the landings are easier on their ankles, though? So that could be it for some of them…IIRC, the reason Nastia Liukin started doing double fronts off bars and on floor was because they felt better for her physically, so that could be why some NCAA gymnasts prefer them to double layouts or tucked full-ins, even if they do end up with more of a landing deduction.

Why do you think Steve Nunno dropped out of the elite coaching scene so soon after the 1996 Olympics? What happened to his gym in Oklahoma?

I believe he kept coaching at Dynamo until after the 2000 Games, because when Shannon Miller made a last-minute decision to try for Sydney, she went back to Dynamo and Steve coached her through her short-lived comeback, but then sold the gym, which is still running as a high-level club, and being in Oklahoma, we ended up seeing a lot of OU gymnasts come from Dynamo, including most recently, Alex Marks, Charity Jones, and Madison Mooring. After selling his gym, Steve moved on to the head coaching position at OU, where he spent six years before resigning from his job after the 2006 season. He moved to Florida and coached Emily Gaskins for a hot second, basically coming out of retirement to coach her, but I think he just comes into various gyms in the Tampa area as a consultant/private contractor now.

Is Aly Raisman back in the gym? Has she said anything about returning since her Larry Nassar news broke?

Shortly before the hearings, Aly was saying on various talk shows that she was planning on coming back, but then after the hearing she kind of changed her tune and now is saying that the work she’s doing now with victim advocacy for gymnasts is more important to her than coming back. I don’t think she’ll end up coming back, unless she feels inspired and makes a last-minute push to try to make it, but I think with the issues with Mihai Brestyan tied up in Australia in addition to everything else she’s doing now, the stars probably just aren’t in alignment on this one which is a bummer because I was really hoping she’d end up becoming the U.S. version of Chuso.

Why do so many former elites have trouble in NCAA getting a vault with a start value out of a 10?

I think most grew up learning and competing Yurchenkos, and so that’s what they’re most comfortable with. With the FTY worth a 10 a couple of years ago it wasn’t a problem, but then the change was made to drop it to a 9.95 and most of them weren’t prepared to upgrade or change their style of vaulting. Most don’t have the stamina/ability to compete a DTY safely week after week, and with the landing deductions inherent in a 1½, most end up scoring better with a full…you need someone really good with blind landings to hit the 1½ consistently and that’s not most gymnasts.

The only other options they have are all of the non-Yurchenko or Yurchenko half-on variety, then, and it’s not simple to just switch over after only learning Yurchenko-style vaults at a high level. Ultimately, for most, a reliable, solid FTY will outscore a 10.0 start value vault that they’ve never done before, and so it’s not worth it to make the change. I think in the next few years we’ll see more former elites (and level 10s) coming up with more 10.0 SV vaults because they’ll be actively training these vaults at younger ages to make themselves valuable in the eyes of recruiters, but since the change was so recent, it didn’t exactly leave any of the current NCAA gymnasts time to learn a brand-new vault.

Can Spain get a full team to Tokyo?

I think if everyone’s healthy they have a shot to be right on the border even if they won’t come up as a top threat to send a full team. They definitely have some solid talent, but their difficulty just isn’t high enough to match the teams that are more likely to get a full team there. I do think they could at the very least be in the top 16 this quad! That’s a step.

Do gymnasts get deducted on layout vaults for not flipping on a perfect vertical (feet over head)?

Yes they do. If they’re not in a perfect vertical, it means they’re either arched or piked, either of which would be a deduction, though the severity of the deduction would depend on how arched or piked they are. Some might get a tenth, others might get three.

Did any FIG officials at the 2000 Olympics ever get punished for the vault fiasco? Given that people could’ve been hurt badly, doesn’t that warrant a ban?

No. It was a ‘human error’ kind of thing and they didn’t put the blame on any one person. Most people who set up equipment at meets are volunteers, which is crazy considering people could get seriously injured if something’s done wrong. Most volunteers are coaches or people familiar with the equipment, but sometimes they’re not as familiar with it and are just following instructions.

Has a piked Arabian ever been performed on beam? Has there ever been a Dos Santos I dismount?

Not that I’ve ever seen but it’s possible that someone has done it in a random small meet somewhere. And no, there has never been a piked arabian double front dismount. It was the skill I always secretly wanted Aly Raisman to debut because her Patterson was so consistent and she always looked like she had extra room.

Do you know why we never see gymnasts from Moldova? One would imagine that being ethnically Romanian and a former Soviet country would automatically mean they would have a very big gymnastics culture. Are there any Soviet gymnasts who were from Moldova?

There have been a couple of gymnasts from Moldova in recent years (Ana Cernenchi and Karolina Dragomir) but Moldova is basically a tiny freaking country with just 3 million people (less than half the number of people in my city alone!), and it’s also really impoverished. There may have been some gymnasts of Moldovan descent in the 90s who came up through the Soviet system, but sports in general don’t seem to be a high priority there, especially not sports that require a high level of financial commitment. I think many of their athletes who make it to the Olympic level in most sports end up training elsewhere from what I’ve read.

Do you think New Zealand or Australia have any up-and-coming gymnasts that could potentially make it into an event final in 2018 and beyond?

No one that I know of who’s an up-and-comer. New Zealand has a couple of really talented young seniors who have been successful at the world cup level, but none are worlds event final contenders really…and if anyone from Australia is going to be an event final contender, it’s likely to be a veteran in comeback mode, not a newbie. I can’t think of any Australians born after 1999 who have been legitimate up-and-comers, sadly.

I’m hoping Mihai Brestyan is working on a developmental program that will change things. They do have a couple of juniors now who seem promising but like…by that I mean promising in that they might someday make a big team over a veteran, not event final promising. The juniors I enjoyed watching most at nationals last summer were Elena Chipizubov, Kate Sayer, and Isla Ross, all of whom turn senior next year, but their difficulty just wasn’t strong enough to show that they’d be a threat on any events. I think Elena and Kate will be at Pac Rims, so we’ll see how they do!

Unfortunately their juniors just don’t really get enough (slash any!) international experience and that is a major disadvantage compared to the European juniors who could basically travel to a different competition every weekend if they had the money and time to do so. It would be cool to see more events like the friendly they hosted against the Chinese team in 2015, or even just back-and-forth friendly meets or league meets with New Zealand or something. Then they could also get other small programs like Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines involved, which would be beneficial for all of them.

Do you think any new seniors this year from countries that haven’t had world champions in the past could have medal potential or reach an event final at worlds?

Hmm, for legit medal contention, no. The only new seniors I could see coming close to medals this year would be a couple of the U.S. girls (Maile O’Keefe, Gabby Perea, Emma Malabuyo), Chen Yile of China, Ana Padurariu of Canada, and Angelina Simakova of Russia. There are several new seniors I’m excited about who could do big things for their countries but I don’t think medals would be likely…though perhaps they could sneak into a final? I’m most excited about Martina Dominici of Argentina, Sanna Veerman of the Netherlands, Nora Feher of Hungary, and Fabiane Valentin of Brazil.

Who pays for LSU’s multi-million dollar training facility? Are any other college gyms close to being as nice as that one?

The university does. Universities have insane budgets for athletic programs, and if a sports program is as successful as LSU’s gymnastics team has been over the past six years, then they get a bulk of that money.

What is the Pak combo that Sidney Dukes does on bars? Why isn’t it done at the elite level?

It’s a switch kip, which is a very basic element on bars that kids learn at a young age and any elite can do easily. Any gymnasts who use it only do it when they can’t figure out a more valuable way to change direction, and they have zero value either in elite or in NCAA. Because Sidney’s Pak has her facing away from the bars when she catches, but her next skill has to face toward the bars, she does the switch kip as a way to turn herself around, but she doesn’t get any “bonus” for doing this because it’s not actually a skill. Most gymnasts at the elite level who do a Pak would either connect it directly to a transition skill back up to the high bar, to a skill meant for changing direction that’s actually worth something (like a toe half), or they’ll just kip cast out of it and then perform another skill after that kip cast.

What are the physical requirements for a gymnast to be able to receive an NCAA scholarship?

I think…just physically being able to do their sport? Hahaha. They might have to take a physical at their doctor’s office but I’m sure the only ‘requirement’ is to see that they’re healthy, and that’s something pretty much any college student has to do before entering a program, not just NCAA athletes.

Do all Division I (non-Ivy) colleges offer 100% scholarships? Do they cover only tuition or books, housing, and food as well?

Any gymnasts who comes into a DI program as a scholarship athlete will be on a 100% scholarship that includes tuition, books, and room/board. The only time you see a partial scholarship is when a scholarship spot opens up and a coach decides to split that scholarship between two walk-ons or something. Other sports give partial scholarships, but for gymnastics pretty much everyone is fully taken care of for all four years.

The U.S. participates in only a handful of international meets a year, with Jesolo the smallest. Why was it chosen over other similar meets held in Europe?

I think first and foremost, because it offered a team competition, which Martha Karolyi liked because team competition is very different from individual competition. Gymnasts get a lot of practice at competing individually, but they almost never get team experience, and it’s hard to be thrown into a situation at worlds or the Olympics without getting any, so Jesolo is perfect because every single year, the U.S. gets a shot to compete as a team at a relatively low-key no-pressure event that they’re basically guaranteed to dominate. It really helps prepare them mentally for a higher-level team competition because they can get the feeling of like “see, it’s not so hard!”

Also, I’m pretty sure the Italian federation let Martha do whatever the crap she wanted. Want to bring 20 athletes? Want to compete in Olympic order? You got it! They knew the draw of letting the U.S. team compete, and they were willing to give Martha free reign over literally everything. It’s a dream situation for the U.S. team essentially.

Do you think Australia could rise again under Mihai Brestyan? They seemed to have a bit of a heyday between 2003 and 2012 but it seems they’ve gone downhill. Was Lauren Mitchell an anomaly? Will they ever be competitive internationally again?

I don’t think they’ll rise until they have a complete revamp of their developmental program. That’s what I’m hoping will be Mihai’s focus, because while they have a pretty decent core senior team right now, they have literally zero up-and-coming athletes with standout potential and haven’t had girls at this level in quite some time. Lauren Mitchell wasn’t really an anomaly; the team was actually really strong in the years before Lauren joined, to the point of being team medal contenders at multiple worlds and Olympic Games. I think they made a push to be prepared for the Sydney Games, and had some resulting success from the money and resources pushed into the program before, during, and just after 2000, but then they kind of faded out from view and Lauren was rather one of the last vestiges of that happier time, along with a few others in her generation.

Do you know what the competition format was for the European Games?

Yes. It was three gymnasts per team, and all three gymnasts on each team could compete in the first round of competition, which served both to determine the team ranking as well as qualifications into the all-around and event finals. In the team competition, the top two scores counted toward the total (making the format 3-3-2), and all individual finals were one-per-country.

Who is the gymnastics commentator on the Olympic Channel?

The British man who says ‘plant’ all the time when referring to landings? I wish I knew! I actually enjoy him. He doesn’t sound like he knows a TON about the sport, but he certainly tries, and he generally has fair and balanced things to say about everyone.

Who do you think did the Patterson better, Carly Patterson or Aly Raisman? Are there any skills out there that you think a subsequent person does better than the originator?

Hmmm, I honestly think Aly did? It’s hard because with Carly, she was only around for a hot second and so she was far less ‘tested’ than most gymnasts who compete at this level…part of the reason I love Aly’s Patterson so much is because you knew she’d always do it exactly right. I’d go with Aly for this, and yeah, there are plenty of skills where gymnasts who compete it later on end up doing it better…almost every vault except like, the Produnova, actually! And then tons of skills on bars, beam, and floor as well. The originator is always generally solid at the skill they introduce to the world, but as coaches perfect teaching these skills to gymnasts over the years, it’s only natural that gymnasts who do them later on will be able to compete them at a higher standard.

Why do you think other countries continue to have high-level competitions after worlds? Do they rank higher in their view than worlds? Are they not peaking for worlds like the U.S. does?

Yes, for a majority of countries, other competitions are considered far more important than worlds. With only a handful of countries that end up being medal contenders, worlds is still a super prestigious competition for everyone who attends, but most realize they’re not going to compete in anything more than just qualifications whereas at competitions that follow worlds, they have chances to win medals and earn money.

For example, Norway showed up to worlds last year with no expectation of anything more than just getting through qualifications, but they basically were able to use worlds as a warm-up or practice event for Northern Europeans a couple of weeks later, which they went on to win. There are several international events like this held after worlds, and so worlds becomes incredibly beneficial to these athletes who get to compete among the best on the planet in the biggest meet of the year before then getting to move on to a competition where they’ll more realistically have a shot at medals.

In addition, you have a ton of invitationals that offer good amounts of money or travel to nice resorts as an incentive to get gymnasts to attend (the Mexican Open is a HUGE draw for many gymnasts, as are meets like the Swiss Cup, the Sokol Grand Prix, and some league competitions like Bundesliga and France’s Top 12, both of which pay to bring in outside guests to help out club teams). Post-worlds is also a super busy time for juniors, and with worlds over, national programs get to focus more on their up-and-coming gymnasts, especially those who are getting ready for the senior level and still need a bit more experience.

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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36 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. I think the British commentator is just a sports fanatic in general. I’ve heard him do volleyball and curling. As with gymnastics doesn’t have a full depth knowledge of the sport but brings the enthusiasm each time.

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  2. I love all the Australia questions! I think I’ve seen like 4 Australian gymnastics movies on Netflix in the past year (you know, the ones where someone competing a flexed-feet double twist is the mean girl going to the Olympics). I sometimes wonder if those movies are generated by someone that wants more Australian kids to try gymnastics.

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    • Hahaha. I saw one of those. I can’t remember what it was called. But an Australian club team + 1 exiled American beat the US national team with bars routines that no releases and a single layout dismount. It was hilarious. I had to wonder if the director had ever seen a gymnastics meet in their entire life.

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      • Haha nevermind, found a heap of cheesy gymnastics movies just by searching “Gymnastics” on Netflix! “Raising The Bar”, which I’m sure is the one you’re talking about, came up first… & now I know what I’m watching tonight after work, haha 🤣🤸‍♀️

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  3. I’m also SUPER excited about the Italian junior quad! Giorgia is a great bar worker, Asia has vault and floor, and both Alice and Elisa have been strong when healthy. I wish one of them would figure out the beams and then take over all the team comps!

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    • I think Giorgia will be an incredible AAer once she’s back to full strength…and hope that she can get her life together on beam. I think she, Alice, and Elisa all have great potential on that event but just aren’t quite where they need to be consistency-wise yet. But they have time at least! All they really need to do is clean up what they have now and maybe add a couple of new skills each and they’ll be fine.

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  4. A super fun fact about LSU’s athletic foundation that excites me: a lot of private donors will give directly to gymnastics through scholarship endowments, sponsoring areas of the training center, etc. I absolutely love how much they’re willing to put into gymnastics these days and hope it continues!!!

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  5. The Italian team could legitimately be a top five team in 2019/2020. With Asia being so great on vault and bars, Giorgia being the queen of bars (and also having a DTY that’s pretty good), Elisa slaying both bars and beam (well, slaying by italian beam standards), and Alice too when she’s healthy. Add in Ferrari/Fasana/Mori/Maggio to balance out beam and floor, and you’ve got yourself a team!

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    • Ferlito is still training, right? She COULD be in the mix to balance out beam + floor if she’s at peak form (& doesn’t have issues w/ the federation) in 2019/2020.

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  6. I think the bars being further apart may limit doing some skills, but overall gymnasts have gotten stronger and have the ability to hit plenty of the older skills. I never thought anyone would do a Zuchold with the bars further apart, but then Ruby brought it back and Tabea created a new variation of it! The only older skills I see being pretty impossible are belly beats but I never enjoyed those much anyway.

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  7. I’ve always thought, even way back in 2012 that Aly Raisman would make a fantastic coach. Now I think even more that it would be perfect. She could stay involved in gymnastics and by sticking around the community could definitely keep USAG honest. With her high profile it wouldn’t take long for her to start getting quality athletes. Parents would know their kids would be safe with her. And she’s clearly very intelligent so I think she could easily learn the ins and outs of the code and be able to construct routines. She should totally get a job at CGA to get started just like Kim Zmeskal did.

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    • I agree but CGA is probably out considering Mary Lee Tracy pretty much called her a liar about the conditions at the ranch last week on Facebook 😂 she definitely would make a great coach. Not sure she’s ready to put her differences aside to go work with USAG thought. Maybe in the future.

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  8. Dumb question from someone who has never done gymnastics: What do you mean by “not having the stamina” to compete a vault every week? Aren’t they in the gym practicing for multiple hours a day? What makes that different from a meet? Why wouldn’t they be able physically to compete every week?

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    • More difficult skills, or routines full of more difficult skills, are much harder to stay consistent and healthy with over the course of a 15 week NCAA season. It’s not that they’re not physically capable of doing a DTY every week from a fitness perspective, but “having the stamina” in this case means being able to do that vault every single day in the gym and then every single week at a meet, which is very hard for most gymnasts. Most gymnasts who vault a DTY will only do it a few times a season, like Alex McMurtry and Elizabeth Price, both of whom go at LEAST the first half of the regular season with FTYs and then they start switching to DTYs as it gets closer to crunch time when every tenth counts. And with other skills, you’ll often see ambitious gymnasts starting out the season with intricate routines or big dismounts, but within a few weeks their bodies can’t handle the difficulty and they end up swapping it out for something easier (e.g. Katelyn Ohashi beginning her beam career at UCLA with a double pike dismount but quickly switching to a simple series into a layout full, which is way less physically demanding to compete on a regular basis). Some gymnasts who have more difficulty in their bag of tricks might hold off until regionals or nationals to go all out, because difficult skills can be harder to keep consistent and since this is a team sport at the collegiate level, no head coach wants a gymnast chucking a skill she can’t do at every meet, causing the team to count falls when the gymnast could simply do something easier and not have that problem. The only gymnast I’ve ever seen in NCAA do her full level of difficulty at every single meet she’s competed has been MyKayla Skinner, but she’s in the best shape of her life and has a good history with keeping herself healthy and injury-free so her coaches at Utah can trust that she can do this high level of difficulty both safely and consistently, which is incredibly rare for most gymnasts in NCAA. In elite, where gymnasts are only competing a handful of times a year, high difficulty isn’t as tough to maintain, but doing it every single week is just so hard on your body, it’s almost impossible to do week in and week out at a safe and consistent level.

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  9. IMO Australia’s situation has a lot to do with three factors: 1. a comparatively small population, 2. geographic isolation and 3. “elite or nothing”.
    The biggest one for me is 3. Basically there’s little reason to keep competing in gymnastics in Australia unless you really love the sport and have the time and money to pursue the dream of being an elite. There’s no college scholarship pay-off in Australia and with the expenses and sacrifices necessary for any elite athletics program (not just gymnastics) there’s just a lot less interest. A few elite Australian gymnasts have received US college scholarships, like Isis Lowry at Oregon State, but it’s far from a common event as our educational systems don’t mesh overly well.
    That said, I know the state gymnastics organisations in Australia have gone through a bit of a restructure and I hope Mihai is able to bring his experience and ideas to the national team.

    I think what people need to wrap their heads around is that the US is the anomaly for elite programs because of the strong link between elite athletics and a college scholarship. While there’s definitely parts of the US program (in particular skill development programs) other countries can adopt, many countries are never going to be able to replicate the US program because of the lack of college scholarship payoff!

    (Sorry Lauren, I sent this comment through on the ask a question form first instead! :()

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    • No problem! Great insight, and I definitely agree with your third point. That’s the problem with a lot of countries and we actually had someone write an article for the site about how the sole reason for the U.S. elite depth is because like 90% of gymnasts who train at a high level do so for NCAA, not for elite…and if they happen to work out within elite, then cool (ahem, Jade Carey). Literally no other country (except Japan, weirdly!) has that going for them and it shows. When top athletes retire or are injured, they have to replace someone who can get a 55 AA with someone who can’t break a 50 AA. The US can lose its entire A team and replace it with gymnasts who are scoring only a couple of points lower total. I do think development is a really important factor as well, and with a stronger developmental program, Australia definitely could get a few athletes at a strong competitive level even if not a whole team…but with so many kids dropping out of the sport by 13 or 14 when they realize they won’t be the next Lauren Mitchell, it’s impossible to expand on their talent or potentially develop them into a high-level athlete.

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      • So true! I guess one (sort of) advantage of other countries is their elites tend to have longer careers because of the reasons you mentioned in regards to not having a B team that can get anywhere near the A team scores. That said, as we all know from eyeballing Romania in recent years, it’s a dangerous philosophy to keep putting veteran athletes ahead of promising younger athletes.

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        • Yeah, fully agree. It’s definitely discouraging for young gymnasts to see that they’ll never make a team because the older ones will keep getting those spots, and instead of being encouraged to stick around anyway just in case, they’re basically told that they have no value. I don’t think Australia has been quite so bad with treating the younger generation poorly in favor of the older one, but then you remember things like Godwin not making Commonwealth Games despite winning nationals in 2014 and other similar team decisions that favored veterans over up-and-comers who potentially could’ve had more to offer and it’s easy to see why many gymnasts wouldn’t want to stick around.

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    • Second the great insights comment! Even population on its own is a huge factor, we have like 22 million people overall, which is probably less than a tenth of the USA! So much, much smaller pool to start with.

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      • Whilst Romania isn’t exactly a shining example right now, they have a population just under 20 million and historically have been a huge force. East Germany must have been around the same considering the current population of Germany, so it’s certainly possible for a country of population around 20 million to produce enough gymnasts to have a competative team. A lot of upcoming countries are significantly smaller than the likes of USA/China/Russia.

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    • As a fellow Aussie I 100% agree with your comments, especially point 3! Furthermore, when it comes to applying for tertiary education in Australia, extra curricular activities mean absolutely nothing. Apart from courses in the creative arts (and weirdly medicine, to an extent) your acceptance into a university course is totally based on objective criteria – i.e. your marks in your last year of school. So I think a lot of gymnasts who know they’re not on the elite path quit because they can’t see any value in continuing; why stick with a sport that will drag you away from your studies that much when it’s not even going to help you get into university?

      I think as a general rule Aussies are also more interested in team sports. An Australian girl is going to be much more likely to play netball or hockey or even Australian Rules football than gymnastics. The few kids that I knew who did gymnastics (and I live only a few minutes away from Larissa Miller’s gym – probably the top gym in the state) all quit before they were teenagers in favour of things like aerobics, netball and even rowing.

      The fact that there is so little gymnastics coverage, even during the Olympics, on TV probably doesn’t help things either!

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  10. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: All men must die. But we are not men. | The Gymternet

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