You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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Gaya Giladi of Israel

It’s time for the 217th 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.

How is it going to work for Israeli gymnasts and fans with the world championships being held in Doha this year?

I’ve been wondering this as well, which is partly why I’ve questioned the FIG’s decision to let Doha host worlds. For world cups, yeah, it sucks that Israel can’t compete, but this year’s worlds is the first step in qualifying for Tokyo, so there HAS to be some way Israel is allowed to compete.

I just googled to see if other sports are having this problem now that Doha is becoming a key city for sporting events (especially with the soccer world cup coming up), and it seems a youth handball team from Israel competed at a world school championship held in Doha this February, which “sparked calls on social media for Qataris to withdraw their children from the competition.”

Apparently people on social media “accused Doha of trying to normalize relations with Israel,” so I’m guessing the Israeli gymnasts can compete and there won’t be too much of an issue on the sports side of things, but the public outcry will definitely be concerning, especially if people decide to protest.

A media manager for the handball competition said “Israel qualified to participate, and the same rule will apply to the World Cup in 2022. This is a world tournament, and if Qatar wants to host, it cannot exclude any country from a sporting event. They have to run the risk that countries like Israel may well turn up and there’s not much they can do about it, other than forfeit the right to host.”

What does Ashton Locklear get deducted for on bars?

Some of her handstands end up looking a little arched at times, especially in pirouetting elements where she makes tiny adjustments to keep her handstands right over the bar, but then she ends up over-correcting a tiny bit which causes her to arch a little. These are minor, though, as are pretty much all of her faults. I think she catches some elements with bent elbows as well (mostly her low to high shaposh-style elements, and then her Jaeger also on occasion), and she sometimes has slight leg separation in her tucked full-in. These are all very minor and they don’t add up to be a ton, which is why she can easily break a 9.0 E score or even get close to a 9.5  with a hit routine.

What do you think are the ways Larisa Iordache can earn a spot for Tokyo 2020? Would an ‘individual spot’ still work for teams that don’t qualify for the Olympics? Or can she earn a beam medal at worlds and that’s all she needs?

Assuming Romania doesn’t qualify a full team, Larisa can qualify as an all-arounder through worlds in 2019. That’s the easiest way. In the past, worlds used to qualify all-arounders to the test event, which was then the qualifier for the Olympics, but now worlds is the qualifier directly to the Olympics. Had this been the case in 2015, Larisa would’ve automatically qualified a nominative spot for Rio without having to go through the whole test event process with her team. If she doesn’t go to worlds, and again assuming Romania doesn’t qualify a full team to Rio, she’d still have a shot through the 2020 European Championships, unless she thinks she can qualify as an event specialist through an apparatus world cup, which is another option.

Do you think an illusion on beam should be upgraded? Why do we rarely see it?

I don’t think so…since it’s currently a D, with E the highest level for turns, it wouldn’t make sense to make it the highest possible turn difficulty because when you compare it to the other E turns, it’s definitely not as difficult. I think for a D it is definitely risky, but so are other D turns, which is why many other D turns are also ignored (like the Y 1½ and the Preziosa).

That’s basically why the illusion is rare…because it’s risky and if someone isn’t fully confident with it, it’s not worth the risk. But in that sense, it also wouldn’t be worth the risk if raised one skill letter because that extra tenth isn’t going to make it any less of a fall/deduction risk, and I don’t think we’d see a bunch of people running to do an illusion turn just for an extra tenth in D which they’ll probably lose in execution anyway.

Has anyone ever performed a double Y turn into an illusion on beam? If you added some kind of leap or jump to those, would it be a three-part dance series? Is there any CV for that?

Only two people that I’ve known of in history have ever performed a double Y turn on beam, and neither has done it into anything, let alone into an illusion turn! The two double Y turns I’ve seen so far (Aiko Sugihara and Georgia-Mae Fenton) have been sketchy at best on the landing, so anyone doing it would have to figure out how to finish that turn in a controlled way before thinking about connecting it to something else. There is no three-part dance series, but if a gymnast performed two dance elements with an acro skill in there as well and if the skills are at minimum B + B + C, then yes, she could get a 0.1 series bonus.

What makes some gymnasts more injury prone than others?

Conditioning and body type mostly. If someone is naturally not as muscular or sturdy and they also don’t put a lot of focus into their conditioning, they’d be more at risk for getting injured if they fall on a skill that wouldn’t injure someone who is either built more muscular or who does lots of conditioning to prevent such injuries.

I always picture Aly Raisman and Brenna Dowell landing tumbling skills super hard directly on their heads and just getting up and moving on to another routine or skill like it was no big deal, because their neck muscles were so freaking strong, most of which is just how they’re built…I think Brenna said her head has bruised her knees before which is hilarious because usually if a gymnast hits her head against her knees on a landing, she gets a minor head injury. Brenna’s like “nope, my head does the injuring.” Meanwhile when Carlotta Ferlito and Katelyn Ohashi had falls like Aly’s and Brenna’s, they were both injured pretty badly (Katelyn less severely than Carlotta, but she still had a fractured scapula IIRC).

I like using these hard head and neck landings as an example because the neck isn’t something you usually think about for gymnastics conditioning. Like, you build muscle by conditioning and doing gymnastics but you’re not doing neck exercises in the same way you’re strengthening your legs or whatever, so these usually end up showing a gymnast’s natural build a bit more and that someone who is naturally a superfreak made of muscle like Aly and Brenna can withstand a bit more than a gymnast who doesn’t have the same build.

Why don’t recent Chinese gymnasts do forward tumbling other than punch fronts on floor?

It’s probably just easier for them or easier for their coaches to train them in a way that works for their routines. In general the Chinese gymnasts tend not to be powerhouses, so any front tumbling out of a handspring or other front entry is going to be harder for them (slash front tumbling in general is harder for most gymnasts who aren’t as powerful and don’t generate the power needed to punch into a double salto). I think most of the weaker front tumblers just prefer to do a punch front or some sort of twisting element like a double full or Rudi because it’s not as physically hard to do consistently as a double salto is.

Why does Catalina Ponor tape her tattoo when others don’t?

There used to be tattoo rules…I don’t know if they still exist and I’m guessing they don’t, especially because Irina Sazonova would get an automatic 900 point deduction for her leg sleeve. But I remember Alicia Sacramone used to have to tape hers, and she said it was because of that rule, so maybe Catalina Ponor was just used to the old rules and stuck to them rather than changing? Or maybe no one told her, lol. Could also be that the Romanian program made her do it even if it wasn’t an FIG rule.

In the first pass of this routine, Sheryl Dundas does a double back with the first salto in a layout and the second piked. Are these allowed? Or does the gymnast have to maintain the same body position throughout? 

These are no longer a thing in artistic gymnastics, so if a gymnast performed this same skill, either the whole thing would be downgraded to a double pike, or she’d get credit for the double layout but be heavily deducted for the pike in the second skill. In the current code, all double salto skills have to maintain the same body position in both saltos, so you no longer have any mixed skills like this one.

Do you know who is competing at the Youth Olympic Games this year?

No. There are a few qualifiers coming up (Asian Junior Championships this month, Junior Pan Ams and the European qualifier in June) so once these happen we’ll have an idea of who will qualify spots.

Does a gymnast compete her level 10 season in the year she attempts to qualify elite?

She can if she wants to, and some do…probably just to keep up with experience and maybe at some invitationals, to test out certain skills they’re hoping to add into elite routines. A few gymnasts this season who have qualified elite continued to do L10 meets after qualifying, like Kailin Chio, who qualified as a junior at the Desert Lights qualifier in January and then went on to compete at the Nastia Liukin Cup and state championships in March.

Why are elite qualifiers held mainly in January and February? Wouldn’t it be better if they were closer to the American Classic so some gymnasts could qualify if they’re injured in the winter?

I think it just depends on who requests to host a qualifier and when their annual invitational is usually held (they’re at different gyms every year, so like, because the Desert Lights invitational is usually held early in the year, if they decide to host a qualifier, then the qualifier will also be held early in the year). Most gymnasts are prepared that early if they’re coming out of the J.O. system because the J.O. season starts in January, so it’s really not that much of a stretch to be ready, but if they aren’t ready, they can go to a later qualifier. Many will start at the earlier ones so they can plan on hitting a bunch throughout the season, which is helpful if they miss qualifying at one of the earlier ones. They can see what went wrong, make changes, and then come back and try again.

Is Anne Kuhm the first French elite to join an NCAA program?

I can’t think of anyone else off the top of my head…maybe someone back in the day, like in the 80s or 90s, or maybe some random elites we didn’t see at the national level ended up doing it, but I can’t think of any other high-level elites who have joined NCAA programs.

Why do you think Laney Madsen combusted at classics last year?

I think she was mostly doing skills that she didn’t have the technical mastery to perform consistently, and so when she was under the pressure to compete them in a qualifier, nerves got the best of her and she was unable to pull them off. Many gymnasts can perform really difficult skills in the gym, but don’t bring even half of their difficulty into competition because doing it in the gym isn’t the same as competing it.

I have no doubt Laney, who is both naturally gifted and a tremendously hard worker, can do almost any skill in the gym pretty easily, but her proficiency on these skills isn’t at a level strong enough to compete them, though they likely put them in her routine anyway because they needed to build difficulty since her E scores wouldn’t be high enough to get her through, and so chucking high-valued skills to make up for a lack of execution was the plan to qualify her.

It’s clear watching her that she’s missing a lot of the foundational quality that you’d get from a kid who comes up from day one training in artistic gymnastics, so while the transition she made was incredible (a true testament to her natural talents!), unfortunately she still needs a lot of work before she can competitively match other artistic gymnasts who have those foundations down pat.

I am so worried about Riley McCusker burning out early at MG Elite. Do you think she’d be a good fit at WOGA?

I could’ve seen her at WOGA with someone like Laurent Landi, so I could maybe see her at WCC with him…I don’t know the current WOGA coaches as well, though seeing them at Gymnix they come across as an awesome group, but I just don’t know their coaching style well enough to say confidently that Riley would work well with them or that they’d cater to her strengths super well.

I do think MG Elite has a history of running gymnasts into the ground by giving them too much difficulty all at once instead of spreading it out over the years, and even though Laurie Hernandez ended up getting to the Olympics, I think they just lucked out with her growing as a beam gymnast, which happened to be exactly what the team needed. But in general, burnout is hard and fast with MG Elite gymnasts, and I admit to being concerned for Riley making it through the quad based on how she looked both in terms of physical injuries and mental fitness last year.

Why do a lot of men do really distinctive, wide-arm roundoffs leading into a pass?

It looks terrifying and awful from an aesthetics POV and I always think their hands are slipping and they’re going to die, but from what I understood after I noticed it last year and asked about it, it helps keep them low going into their back handspring, which is supposed to be a really low and long kind of skill? Many of the men do it so I guess it’s a technique that works but I scream basically every time. The first time I ever really noticed was Bram Verhofstad at a world cup and I honest to god thought he was about to die.

If a gymnast gets pregnant while on an NCAA scholarship does she get to keep the scholarship despite not being able to contribute for at least a year?

I guess they could count it as a redshirt since it’s technically a medical absence, hahaha. It would depend on the program and how many scholarship spots they have open, though.

Do you think Giulia Steingruber will try to get her new vault named now that she can attempt it at a world cup?

I hope so. I think she’ll definitely be one of those who attends a world cup or two in the future just for qualification/prize money reasons so I hope she also throws caution to the wind and just goes for it, mostly because I selfishly want that vault so badly.

How many athletes at most can a country send to Tokyo 2020 if they failed to qualify a full team?

Technically as many as they can qualify, but I think we’ll end up seeing three as the extreme (Romania circa 2015-2016 could’ve easily qualified three, though most non-team countries don’t have that depth), two for some of the stronger countries with multiple top all-arounders, and one will be the norm.

Why do people say gaylords can only end in dead hang and have a built-in deduction? Is this video not proof that they don’t all have to be that way? 

This isn’t a Gaylord/Mo, it’s a Gaylord II, but while it’s impressive that she didn’t dead-hang out of it, MOST gymnasts do. Obviously for every skill that comes with a caveat like “this usually ends in a dead-hang and therefore has a built-in deduction,” there are probably going to be a handful of gymnasts who can make it work so that they don’t have that happen, but the majority of gymnasts would be likely to dead-hang, which is why most don’t go for it.

Aimee Boorman said Simone Biles had a ‘beautiful’ triple double that she never competed. What do you think the D score would be?

If I had to guess, honestly, a J at least. Maybe a K. With a full-in at an E and a double double at an H, a triple double getting the same jump would be a K, but if the highest current skill level is I, I don’t know if they’d skip over J entirely, so I’d say they’d give it a J and then bump it up to K if anyone ever competed an element they’d rate a J.

Why do you think Gabby Douglas persisted with the tuck back out of her full-in? Surely it would’ve been much easier and safer to just do a simple leap?

I always questioned that, especially because she never actually really connected it…she fully landed the pass and then was like oh…here’s a back tuck too. I’m sure she had her reasons. She was probably like “I’M GETTING THIS BONUS, DAMMIT.” Honestly, it didn’t look unsafe, just like it was never going to get credit, but they were probably like “meh, we might as well do it and hope for the best.”

Has any WAG gymnast ever competed a double arabian half-out? How much is it worth? Is it considered forward or backwards?

Yup! It’s a forward element. Katherine Grable of Arkansas used to compete it in college, and it was amazing. That was the last time I saw it but I feel like a U.S. junior is training it? I can’t keep everyone’s dream skills straight. It’s called an Andreasen in women’s gym, but I honestly have no idea who this is, and just looked her up in the official code of points and it literally says “Andreasen (Name TBC)” hahahaha. They’re like “who the hell did we name this skill after???” Record keeping is on point.

How does redshirting work? Since Madison Kocian tried a mid-season comeback but can’t pull it off or gets hurt again, can she request a redshirt at this point?

The window for redshirting is super narrow…basically anyone who competes in fewer than 30% of meets in the regular season can redshirt, but the regular season is relatively short, so this means if the injury happens after the third week of competition, they’re out of luck. For Madison, since she came back in the third meet of the season, she competed in 83% of UCLA’s regular season meets and therefore would without question be ineligible to redshirt.

Are there any gymnasts currently competing that you notice spot their turns?

I don’t usually look to see if they’re spotting because I know none of them are, so I wouldn’t know if someone magically did decide to spot. I think it would be obvious if someone was, but I’ve never had someone stand out to me as doing it. Even those with apparent/intensive ballet training don’t spot.

What happened to Jordan Rae at Bowling Green?

She competed for Bowling Green for her full freshman season, and then that summer (in 2015) she was selected to represent New Zealand at Universiade, which was her first major international competition in about three years. Unfortunately, while on floor she ruptured her Achilles and wasn’t able to really come back from that. She competed once or twice as a sophomore but then medically retired, though I believe she stayed at BGSU to complete her degree.

Is Emma Malabuyo injured? How? Is anyone else injured to the point it could affect their chances for going to worlds?

Nope, she is fine! I think she and the other Texas Dreams seniors are kind of taking it easy for the first part of the year with the eye on making the worlds team. With the national team situation as crazy as it is, they likely just want to keep a low profile.

If someone did a back 1½ twist followed by some back handsprings and then a whip directly into a double arabian, would they receive CV for both the 1½ and the whip or just for one?

They would only receive the credit for the whip into the arabian double front.

How do collegiate coaches prevent injuries when they’re competing so frequently? Does the strain of not training as much help the wear and tear?

Well, I think this season with over 20 Achilles injuries, it’s pretty clear that something is wrong with the training in NCAA and/or the stress put on the athletes’ bodies at this level. I guess you could say training less frequently and training less difficult skills can ease the likelihood of injury, and there are some coaches who don’t push for numbers at all, which helps, but some coaches treat practice like a competition and they make gymnasts compete for spots in the lineup each week, so I would say not training as much is not the same as not training full competition sets on hard surfaces, which likely is helpful in staving off injuries despite weekly competitions. Even though it’s 20 hours a week for all NCAA programs, the schools who utilize those hours in a more intense way are probably coming out with far more injuries than those who don’t do a ton of numbers or hard surface landings.

If the U.S. didn’t have Simone Biles in 2016, would Russia have won?

No. The U.S. would’ve replaced Simone with MyKayla Skinner, and while MyKayla wasn’t at the same level as Simone, with hit routines she would’ve been more than sufficient in that role. The U.S. won by like ten points; without Simone they would’ve lowered that margin to like…maybe seven or eight points. Max. They could’ve brought the lowest-ranked all-arounder from trials and still had a steady lead over Russia, honestly. 

Why don’t gymnasts do Khorkina type dismounts on beam anymore?

Like the gainer? We still get gainers as beam dismounts (well, front gainers)…I think with Svetlana’s eponymous dismount, there are just other options at that difficulty level that are easier for most gymnasts. Physically it’s not a super hard dismount to pull off, but I think some gymnasts in general just don’t like gainer-style skills, so when you can do a regular 2½ and have it worth the same as the gainer2½, it’s just easier to do it without the gainer so most don’t bother.

Do you think there should be some kind of artistic bonus to gymnasts who perform really well on floor?

The ‘backwards bonus’ for artistic gymnasts is that they don’t get deductions taken for lack of artistry. Like, if you have a super well-choreographed and well-performed routine, congrats, you’re not getting the mega deductions that come with the lack of artistry deductions in the code!

I think it would be super difficult to make artistry a difficulty requirement/part of the D score because it’s so subjective and the rest of the difficulty score is pretty clear — it’s not hard or subjective at all to see skills/connections and add them up. I guess you could have a tiered system that’s like “super artistic routines get 0.5 in D, good routines get 0.3, okay routines get 0.1, and crappy routines don’t get any difficulty,” but again it would be WAY too subjective compared to the other D elements, a gymnast’s routine could be a 5.0 one day and a 5.5 the next depending on which judge is there, which would make things suuuuper complicated. And since the E score is about taking away from a 10, it should only be about taking away, not adding bonuses.

I agree with how it works now, where you get deductions for a lack of artistry, and if your routine is artistic, your ‘bonus’ is not getting those deductions.

In the Code of Points for beam, it says CV is given for B + D elements that rebound forward. Since Brooklyn Moors’ dismount rebounds forward, would she get that CV despite the code also saying that CV can only be given for B + F or higher dismounts?

I don’t believe she gets the CV, since the code specifically says “minimum F” for dismounts and doesn’t specify whether that means forward or backward, so even though a B + D forward series on beam would get that CV, because it specifically says dismounts have to be F+, I don’t think she’d get it. But I do think it could maybe be a special case that they probably didn’t consider when writing the code? I’d be surprised if it hasn’t been brought up in FIG technical meetings.

The Pro Gymnastics Challenge in 2013 was super cool! It sounded like it was supposed to be annual but I can’t find any others. What happened? Will it ever be back?

I’m guessing it just wasn’t super successful in terms of ratings or getting advertisers or whatever. Because the gymnasts all got paid for their appearances and because they needed pretty large-ish teams to make it work, I would assume the costs were just too much especially for a one-day production. I think if they could figure out a way to make it a series (like the Bundesliga or Top 12 competitions in Germany and France) each year and not bring in superstars of the sport (to reduce the spend), it would work better. Like, have actual currently-competing gymnasts at the elite and higher J.O. levels, put them in teams based on region or something, and have them compete against each other in skill battles or one-on-one routines that get points instead of legit gymnastics scores. There can be a few ‘regular season’ meets, a semi-final, and a final. I think this could be popular and they wouldn’t have to make it as show-y or over-the-top as PGC was, and it would still be super successful.

Do you think if beam and floor routines were longer it would be easier to demonstrate artistry?

For some, yes…but honestly I think the ones who would be better at demonstrating artistry with longer routines are already the ones who shine in that aspect. I think artistry mostly comes down to the person and whether or not she is a good performer, and more time for that person could just make things even worse, honestly. Already there are many people who struggle to fill a full 90 seconds, and so much of the routine ends up looking awkward, so I can’t imagine what they’d do with even more time! But for those who excel in this area, a longer routine could give them even more time to show what they can do, which I think would make them even more appreciated by the judges.

On floor, a double tuck and double pike are both D skills, a full-in is an E, a 1½ is a G, and a double double is an H. Based on how they’ve graded these skills, shouldn’t a full-in be an F? Technically speaking it sounds like a double back half-out should be an E.

Yeah, there are a few things like this where it doesn’t all add up, but sometimes the grade from no twist to a full is considered to be pretty minor, and for most, since a half-twisting element would be harder than a full due to the blind landing, it makes sense that a half wouldn’t be a step down from a full, especially in the tucked position.

Can two all-around gymnasts from the same country qualify to the Olympics if their country doesn’t qualify a full team? How many spots can a non-qualified country get?

Yup! I’ve answered this question above already, but basically there is no limit to how many spots a non-team country can qualify…though because they don’t have the depth to qualify a full team, it’s unlikely that most countries would qualify more than one spot. But in 2016, Romania could’ve definitely qualified as many as three spots pretty easily between all-around qualifications and apparatus world cups, and there are a few other borderline countries (like Spain and Switzerland) that will definitely qualify two all-around spots.

In NCAA programs is it common for coaches to decide that everyone on the team must vault at the same table height and with the same board settings? Doesn’t this end up hurting their vaulting lineup because incoming athletes have to more or less re-learn how to vault?

I’m not sure how the rules work for table height in NCAA. I feel like I’ve seen them change the table, though? Maybe not on a feed but in person I’ve definitely seen people playing with the height. I think gymnasts do have preferences for height, but most get used to heights that aren’t “theirs.” FIG height is pretty low, for example, but NCAA can go up to 10 cm higher (I think most gymnasts vault on 130-135 cm in NCAA compared to 125 in FIG), so anyone who does both elite and NCAA has to get used to that difference. I also think most end up vaulting on two different settings (like 125 and 130, or 130 and 135) so switching back and forth wouldn’t be super difficult. Either way it doesn’t really seem to be a huge drama in NCAA, and I think most gymnasts at that level don’t have a problem vaulting at 135 (slash I think in FIG most wish the vault would be this height).

Are there levels after Level 10 or are you automatically an elite?

Nope, level 10 is it for anyone who doesn’t want to become elite. Once the majority of gymnasts reach level 10 they usually stay there until NCAA, but a handful will want to qualify elite. Elite is separate from the J.O. program, with different rules and requirements, so it’s not necessarily the next stepping stone after level 10, but rather a side program that most will excel at once they’ve reached level 10, though some elites have gone directly from level 9 to elite qualifications. No one is automatically elite…if a gymnast reaches level 10 and decides she wants to be an elite, she has to go through a qualification process. From there, only a small percentage actually get the elite scores needed to qualify.

What were the honest chances for Alicia Sacramone, Bridget Sloan, Rebecca Bross, and Nastia Liukin in making the 2012 Olympic team? Did any of them have a serious chance going into finals?

In around May or early June of that year I legitimately thought Nastia would have a chance. At that point it was pretty clear the team was going to be Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and McKayla Maroney, so the one spot that was always talked about as being “up for grabs” was the bars/beam specialist spot that ultimately went to Kyla Ross.

Kyla came in as a favorite for the spot because she was super consistent and she could also be a backup all-arounder if needed (which they ended up taking advantage of when McKayla got injured and couldn’t do floor in qualifications), but I think if they truly got a blow-out performance from one of the potential specialists (like Nastia, Rebecca, or Anna Li), then Kyla wouldn’t have been as secure in that spot. It looked like when Nastia got all of her skills back that she could potentially work her way up to a huge routine that could challenge for a medal at the Games, but I just think that she didn’t have the time to put it all together. A few more months with that routine, I think she definitely would’ve had a serious chance!

As for the rest, I think it was pretty clear that Rebecca didn’t have the difficulty to match the rest, let alone the consistency, though I always had a secret hope that she’d pull it off and get alternate or something. Anna had the goods on bars, but couldn’t offer anything anywhere else so I think that took her out of the running, and Alicia was fantastic but with McKayla a step ahead of her, they just didn’t have a spot for her. These were my feelings going into trials, and they’re still my feelings now!

Do you know if Jade Carey has problems with front tumbling? It baffles my mind that her third tumbling run is so simple compared to the other three.

I don’t think she has problems with it, necessarily, but she might just not be quite as skilled there as she is with back tumbling. She also rushed to put this routine together in a short amount of time to be prepared for elite and to get a spot at worlds, so I’m guessing with a little more time, that pass could be upgraded somewhat easily.

Do you think it’s more beneficial for Madison Kocian to have her not compete this season and redshirt for another year?

I think the reason she likely didn’t want to redshirt is probably because she doesn’t want to stick around school for five years. Often that’ll be the case. Yes, she could’ve been eligible to redshirt if she sat out the whole season, but her goal is probably to finish her four years within that four-year period, and so to her, it was better to just come in slowly on a couple of events this season than to cancel her entire season just because she was limited on some skills. Some gymnasts don’t mind coming back for a fifth year, but if many have an injury that’s only partially limiting them, they’ll choose to compete that season because they don’t want to redshirt if they don’t absolutely have to.

If a country had both a team and individuals for the Olympics, could they switch around who was on the team and who was an individual?

Up until the lineups are due, which is usually a few days before qualifications, yes, and they can also bring in alternates until this point. But once the lineups are due, there’s no swapping back and forth.

How much do you think the Olympians talk to their coaches if they take a year off? Do you think athletes keep in touch when they go to college?

It probably depends on their relationships with their coaches. Some have good friendships with their coaches and they might text on and off about everything going on, but others might have very limited contact, especially if they’re minors and their coaches are older (specifically older adult males…it’s actually a rule that adult coaches can’t text with minors and that all communication has to be between the coach and parent; everyone learns this in the safety course you take when you become a judge or coach or even a janitor in a gym and with everything that happened with Larry Nassar, many coaches who were maybe a bit more friendly with their gymnasts are taking this much more seriously). Many athletes do keep in touch with their club coaches while they’re in college, and quite a few athletes actually return to their club gyms to train during holidays and in the summer.

Is Tyesha Mattis still training?

I’m not sure. I haven’t seen anything from her training-wise in the past six months…I know she was training close to the end of last year, and I thought after her performance at English Championships a year ago that she might have another push towards a legit elite career, but it seems like that’s no longer happening just going by what we see on social media.

When is Simone Biles looking to come back to competition?

The plan is to come back for classics on a couple of events and then show her full all-around program at nationals this summer. And no, they’re not going to make her qualify from classics to nationals…I think when you’re the reigning Olympic champ and the best gymnast who has ever lived, they waive that for ya.

If you do three toe-on skills in your bars routine and then dismount with a toe-on dismount, do you get an incomplete exercise penalty in the same way you would if you didn’t do a dismount?

Technically, the way this rule is spelled out in the code, yes, because since you wouldn’t get credited for doing a dismount since that skill didn’t “count.” But this is one of those tricky gray areas where I think there could be a discussion about like…well technically the gymnast did dismount because we literally just saw her dismount, so even though the skill wasn’t credited, we don’t have to be total psychos and give an incomplete exercise penalty as well. I think it would definitely be a debate, because while the code is crazy at times, it’s not always black and white and when something like this does come up, the technical committee is good about clarifying and they even put out bulletins like “okay, here’s a new situation we didn’t think about, so here’s our clarification for how this situation would play out.”

Why do you think Alicia Sacramone never competed very difficult passes on floor? She had enough power for them, and could have upgraded her vault too.

She likely just chose consistency over difficulty. I know that was the case on vault, because she did have a handspring front double full, but she didn’t compete it because she didn’t want to risk it when her Rudi was so flawless. Some choose to go big and that’s awesome, but it often leads to disappointment, whereas others could go big but they don’t feel confident enough that they’d hit, so they stick to what they know, especially in a meet as important as the Olympics.

Case in point — Hong Un Jong and Giulia Steingruber in Rio. Un Jong was almost guaranteed a medal if she did her Amanar, but she decided to go balls-to-the-wall with her Yurchenko triple and she ended up falling. Giulia, meanwhile, had a handspring front double full, but when she realized she could get close to a medal, she opted for her tired and true Rudi, and she ended up with bronze while Un Jong finished off the podium.

What would happen if during the routine in team finals one gymnast got hurt? Is another gymnast allowed to start in her place?

Nope. It would lead to a low score counted toward the team. Unfortunate and I definitely think teams should be allowed to swap in an alternate if an athlete gets injured mid-routine and can’t finish her performance in a three-up three-count situation. But I can also see how this would be abused…like if someone falls early in a routine, and then one pass later decides to “get injured” so another gymnast could come in and start them from scratch without that fall counting. It sounds crazy, but I can almost guarantee this would happen, hahaha.

Has Aly Raisman announced definite plans to return to training? How about Laurie Hernandez and Gabby Douglas?

It looks like Aly has decided not to continue her career, though nothing is definite yet. Laurie wants to come back to competition in 2019, but hasn’t started training seriously yet. I’ve heard from multiple sources that Gabby is done, but she could always feel inspired in the future to come back, which tends to happen on occasion!

Any news on Riley McCusker’s injury? Is she ready to get back to training soon?

She’s training again but I think is taking it slow in terms of coming back to competition. From what I’ve heard, we’ll see her this summer if all continues to go well.

Why did Kylie Dickson compete a level 8/9 floor at the Olympics? Her passes were a double tuck (fall), front handspring to front layout, and a full twist.

She was injured and decided rather than give up her spot at the Olympics, she was just going to do bare-bones routines. Frankly, I’d do the same!

What skills do you think Simone Biles would’ve kept in her routines had she done NCAA?

I’d like to think she’d keep the Amanar, at least for a few meets, just to get to call herself the only gymnast to do an Amanar in NCAA. I could see her keeping most of her floor tumbling as well. Beam would probably get downgraded to a regular NCAA routine just for consistency, and I think she’d also make alterations on bars, but yeah, I could totally see her going all-out on vault and floor.

Without her injuries in 2007, could Vanessa Ferrari have challenged for the world all-around title and a medal in Beijing?

Yes, definitely. I think even though the all-around competition was a bit tougher in 2008 than it was in 2006, Vanessa still could’ve been up there without her injury.

If a gymnast saluted the judges before floor at worlds or the Olympics but then had a panic attack or some other temporary issue that prevented her from starting the routine, what would happen? Would she be disqualified, deducted, or would they let her go away, calm down, and come back?

In an all-around or event competition, I’m not sure if they would let her compete out of the rotation order, so she might have to scratch (if it was the all-around, she could likely come back for the next rotation if she wanted to, though it would be pointless since she’d only be able to do three events). In a team competition, if she was supposed to go up but then couldn’t due to some temporary issue, they could shift her to later in the lineup as long as she competed before her team’s time on that event was up, but they’d get a penalty for competing out of lineup order. I would imagine if that happened in real life, the gymnast likely wouldn’t be considered well enough to compete so they’d probably just withdraw her from the meet rather than risk her safety.

Do you think Simone Biles will ever compete for Belize?

I doubt it. I think the U.S. would do everything possible to keep her if she ever considered it. But I could see her at like 50 years old being like “I feel like going to the Olympics” and qualifying through Belize.

Do you think Shang Chunsong could have been competitive in the Montreal all-around final?

With how she looked last year at domestic competitions, no.

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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80 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Glad to hear that Emma and her Texas Dreams peeps are OK. I’m still bummed about Ragan’s injury in Montreal…yes, I know, I need to get over that…

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    • With the situation in Palestine, many people in Qatar are incredibly anti-Israel and the relationship is frayed on the geopolitical level as well. There are efforts within both countries to repair this, especially through sports, but there are groups like QAYON that are opposed to normalizing relations between Qatar and Israel because it downplays the situation in Gaza, and so while Israelis aren’t banned from going to Qatar, they face a lot of backlash from these groups and at the individual level. The Israeli gymnasts are low-profile enough that I don’t think there’d be any protests or anything but I’m sure groups like QAYON are monitoring all sporting events for Israeli competitors and would definitely cause a scene at least online.

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        • On a similar note, in 2009, the Dubai government refused to issue Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe’er a visa, making it impossible for her to compete in the Dubais Tennis Championship, a Premier level event on the WTA tour. As a result, the WTA fined the tournament $300,000, demanded that Israeli players be granted visas at least eight weeks prior to the tournament in subsequent years, and compensated Pe’er by giving her the same amount of prize money (more than $40,000) and ranking points she had earned at the tournament the previous year. Also, the Tennis Channel didn’t televise the tournament that year, and the Wall Street Journal pulled its sponsorship.

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    • Ahhh okay, that would make sense too. For some reason I always thought it came from the FIG’s end, because other gymnasts from around the world covered up, but that would make sense that it’s on an individual federation level.

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      • Actually I remember hearing that the reason Alicia had to cover up her tattoo was because not all broadcasters were allowed to show the Olympic rings?

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    • I remember that with Brooklyn…not sure how it affected her eligibility though! In terms of being able to redshirt or just scrapping one of her eligibility years/paying for that year.

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    • No, only the individual all-around spots from worlds are nominative. The individual spots that go to countries with full teams from continental championships or world cups are non-nominative. Countries who qualify full teams are not eligible to also qualify nominative spots from the world all-around competition, so they can only qualify individuals from non-nominative spots through the world cups or continental championships.

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      • The spots from apparatus world cups are nominative though, so say USA has a team and one from an apparatus world cup (say Skinner) and one from all around world cups (very likely) but doesn’t have one from continental champs (yeah, I know that’s unlikely). If they needed Skinner on the main team they would lose a spot.

        Does anyone one know what happens if they had qualified a continental champs spot, initially had Skinner in one of the two extra spots, do they nominate which they are using, do they even get to choose or would they get the first two earned, the nominative spot is earned first chronologically. Doesn’t make sense that they could earn 3, be only allowed to use 2 but get to screw over the gymnast with the nominative spot. I’ve not managed to find an answer to this.

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        • They cannot qualify continental championships spot if they already had qualified one spot from AA World Cup series and one from apparatus World Cup series.

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  2. I don’t think Biles would’ve kept the Amanar if she did NCAA, just because of the landing. I think she could do it perfectly fine, but less training time would mean it would be much harder to get the landing consistently, she’d probably play it safe and do a DTY… the only person who you can say a DTY is playing it safe!

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    • I mean, if McMurtry can get a 10 with form issues and a slide on the landing on a double, I think Simone would get 10s with her amanar even if she didn’t truly stick it.

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      • I also like to throw shade at suspect 10s for NCAA DTYs (let’s add Ashleigh Gnat and Makenna Merrell-Giles to that list) but Simone frequently has very large bounces back on her Amanar. Even the drunkest college judges would not be able to ignore them.

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      • I was kind of hoping Trinity would get a scholarship for diving instead, just because that would’ve been pretty incredible.

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        • She’s got the difficulty, but she doesn’t have the execution that is necessary for collegiate diving- not at a high level of collegiate diving. She has some amazing feet first dives, but those don’t score particularly well. You need your hands to make a rip in the water to enter with very little splash. Trin doesn’t really do those to well she over rotates or under rotates because it is against her instinct to enter head first. She struggles with reverse dives also, which is necessary to do well. In high school she is able to make up the points lost by execution based on her sheer difficulty in multiple flipping and multiple twisting dives.

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        • Yeah I know, I just thought it would’ve been pretty funny for everyone to have been waiting so long to see what college she committed to just for her to be like “so I committed, but I’m not doing gymnastics!”

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  3. Is there definitely no cap on the number of individual gymnasts a non-team country can qualify? Because (while highly unlikely) I calculate they could qualify up to 11 gymnasts! It doesn’t seem right that a country that doesn’t qualify a team could theoretically have more qualifiers than a country that does.

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    • Theoretically it could happen but it won’t! If they had the depth to qualify 5 or more individuals, then they would’ve qualified a full team. The lower-ranked full teams at the Olympics (Italy, France, Belgium, Brazil, Canada) would’ve each qualified three at most, and that’s being optimistic. Teams that didn’t make it would maybe get two spots at most, three if they were in a situation like Romania where they had two competent all-arounders and one who could reach as a specialist or something…but none of the non-team federations are getting anywhere close to 11 spots.

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      • The theoretical cap is 7. It is explained in the Art Olympic Qualification FAQ list on the FIG site under Olympic Rules section.

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  4. Michelle Timm of Germany also did a double arabian half out. I’m not sure if she ever performed it in a competition but she trained it … I think I saw the Video of her training it on Instagram

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  5. If we want to talk about pure theatricality, the only way a non-team country qualifies more gymnasts (6+) than any team countries is for the powerhouses i.e US, Russia or China (RIP Romania) to made ridiculous mistakes as huge as Ekaterina Kramarenko in 2007 Worlds at all team-qualifying events to eventually un-qualify themselves as a team. Hmmm.. for the US, even a -15 would still not compromise a team spot!

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  6. There are no longer any rules about tattoos in the Code of Points. I think some individual federations ask the gymnasts to cover them, but most don’t. What I really get concerned about is untaped piercings, especially ear cartilage ones (you can get a really nasty scar if you bump them or rip them out). I think lots of teams have rules about this (GB, for example), but again, most don’t. I’ve even seen gymnasts training bars in sports bras with untaped belly piercings (Steingruber, Ferrari, Tinkler, Fragapane) which seems super dangerous to me.

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  7. Regarding the question about injuries and body type of the athlete, it always amazes me that Khorkina never had a major injury in competition through her whole career (I heard that in an interview somewhere, and as far as I know, it’s true). You’d think she’d have been super injury-prone, so I guess in her case, a huge factor was having Boris Pilkin as her coach. He was a genius at finding ways to modify skills to suit her unique body type and also protect her from injury.

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    • Khorkina wasn’t as flexible as some gymnasts with her body type, such as Nastia Liukin, Nastia was so bendy I’m surprised her body managed to hold together as much as it did. Khorkina also had a lot of strength for someone who didn’t look muscular.

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      • Liukin did get an injury in early 2006, and she never really returned to her top form. Her routines and training from 2005 (when she was training competition ready quad twists, and DTY) were even stronger than what she showed in Beijing.

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        • I’m aware of that injury and am honestly surprised that with that and her massive height change that she got back to any kind of competative form let alone being more than reasonable in 2007 and winning in 2008. She essentially has the body type of a typical rhythmic gymnast. Valeri might not be the genius Pilkin seemed to be, but he was definitely doing something right with conditioning, but seeing some of the shots of her bending and stretching her back on the stadium floor in the Beijing all around I did wonder how on earth she didn’t give herself whiplash doing a ring leap. It was frankly scary to me that her body could do that and tolerate doing a double salto even once, let alone the four times she showed it in Beijing (and one assumes some in training as well).

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    • I also think Khorkina wasn’t one to talk about her injuries……she was in a back brace before Atlanta 1996, and you could see how some her routines {floor, mainly} were modified as a result. But she didn’t make it a big deal and didn’t bring attention to it. She was a beast about competing, no matter what! But she definitely didn’t suffer from those big time injuries we commonly see. Again, kudos to Pilkin!

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  8. Pretty sure that after 2 Olympic Games of doing stellar work and get insulted by people, Gabby Douglas is done. I saw that she’s into acting, though, so I hope that’s going well for her! She also has a makeup line through Beauty Bakery! (Her makeup is pretty expensive, though)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “I’m the one who knocks!” -Brenna’s head

    Btw, I’m living for the idea of a fifty something Simone being like, k Olympics and being even more legendary.

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  10. I’m so mad about Shang not winning bronze in the Rio AA. That was her chance! Also, I think Nastia had a chance at the team had she started training a year earlier. Rebecca also had a shot if she could’ve consistently outscore Kyla Ross on bars (Which would’ve been hard, but it could have happened). I want Larisa to scrap every event but beam and protect her body. I need her to win an Olympic gold and beam has always been her best chance at it. She’s probably one injury away from retirement, so why push floor and vault when you can focus on your best event while saving your body.

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    • It’s really hard to not just assume Nastia was in it for the publicity, but she did give it a good shot and her beam routines were lovely. I hate to talk about weight because it wasn’t just weight that was wrong, but she needed to weigh a little less by having done more conditioning before she started higher level skills, which might have helped her to avoid injuries that she suffered on the way (was it elbow or shoulder, or both). It definitely seems like a lack of planning compared to what they did between 2006 and 2008. I liked Mihai’s approach of insisting on months of conditioning and no playing around, it means starting a year in advance is too late and it protects from injuries.

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      • Yeah, I think she partly was in it for the publicity, but you’re right, her beam routines were fabulous. Her skills on bars also looked good individually, but she didn’t have the stamina to make it through a whole routine. It’s a shame because I would’ve loved to have seen a He Kexin and Nastia Liukin rematch in London.

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  11. Amy Chow used to compete an arabian double front half out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXLWEutwMCE she only did it for the 1995 season IIRC.

    Draguta Dobre of ROU competed one as junior to though hers was more of a half in half out. At least Maura Driscoll commentated that it was an arabian double front half OR a full twisting double back and it depended what the judges would score it.

    In terms of Madison Kocian not competing this year- redshirting was something that was discussed as one potential option. However, UCLA as a very strong chance to win Nationals, but they aren’t likely to do it without Kocian on 3 events. Having her in the UB and FX line ups alone add at least .3 and with her BB a possible additional .1 With Oklahoma being an incredible deep team and Florida having a lot of untapped scoring potential, it was a no brainer to have Kocian come back. That is why they made a comeback plan for her. Had UCLA not had the potential to be national champions, Kocian would likely have taken a redshirt.

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      • To be fair, UCLA does have a shot. They came close to beating Oklahoma this year, the two peak scores for both teams are less than a tenth away, and if I remember correctly they had one week where the score for UCLA was higher than Oklahoma’s; yeah they were different meets, but it shows that the potential is there. Is UCLA the team to beat going in? No. But they’re not to be counted out either. They have a decent shot at the national title.

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        • I stand by what I said. Sure Jan 🙂 That meet between UCLA and OU was a UCLA home meet, and scoring was stanky vajanky. 🙂

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        • The scoring was awful, but it didn’t favor UCLA. If it did UCLA would’ve won, and everyone would’ve been pissed.

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      • UCLA is for sure a contender. despite Oklahoma being the favorites, UCLA and Florida have a chance. Otherwise, why hold a national championship.
        No one expected Nichols to fall off beam in the semi-finals last year and look what happened.
        Oklahoma is not as unbeatable as it was last year with Capps.

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  12. I’m not surprised Kim is having her girls take it easy during the first part of this year. As much talent as she’s coached they always seem to find a way to injure themselves. If I were her I would keep them wrapped in mylar until 5 minutes before every major competition.

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  13. I seem to remember Andreea Iridon (brb crying forever) having a double Y turn on beam in training, but she kept to the 1.5 for competitions.

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  14. PREACH at the MG Elite answer. I don’t know why they or MH specifically don’t get more criticism. There’s such a big history on burning out elites and/or injurys and everything. Any other gym would get criticized so much, like Valeri who still get’s critique for not pacing Katelyn Ohashi..

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  15. Mai Murakami is 50/50 for spotting her turns. She’ll usually be good for spotting on her 3/1 turn, but she’s kinda meh at spotting her gomez.

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  16. Are any gymnastics countries at a disadvantage by not being included in a continental competition to help qualify for the Olympics or are all countries included in the same number of qualifying competitions?

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    • Nope, AFAIK, between Pan Ams, Oceania, Euros, Asian Champs, and whatever Africa’s continental meet is, I’m pretty sure everyone’s covered.

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      • Africa holds the African Gymnastics Championships every 2 years. It’s being held May 9-12 in Namibia this year. Egypt is the favorite to win WAG team gold over South Africa.
        Unsure where the 2020 edition is being held, and if that will be the qualifier for the Olympics or what.

        There is currently no gymnastics championships for Oceania at the moment. So something will have to be created. While Australia and New Zealand are the only two that we actually see competing, there are a few other member countries. American Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and newly created (just 18 months) gymnastics federation from Papua New Guinea.

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  17. Amy Chow competed an Arabian double front 1/2 out in 1995. Also Kim Un Jong competed an arabian double front 1/2 out + punch front layout 1/2 in Athens 2004.

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  18. Q: “How many athletes at most can a country send to Tokyo 2020 if they failed to qualify a full team?”
    A: “Technically as many as they can qualify”.

    IMHO this is the wrong answer. I know the new rules are very complex but this is my understanding: if a country qualifies a full team then they can qualify just two more athletes as “specialists”. Total per country maximum 6 athletes.

    So it seems to me very odd that a country that cannot qualify a full team to be able to qualify 7 specialists and even 6 would be odd. My understanding is that the maximum a country that failed to qualify a full team can send to 2020 is two (per gender). And the total gymnasts per gender can not be more that 98.

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  19. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: Miss California eats ice cream | The Gymternet

  20. So this ‘Andreasen’ on floor has been bugging me…..there was a Jessica Andreasson from Sweden who competed in the early 90s, but I can’t find any footage of her doing a double arabian half-out {and I doubt she could, based on her tumbling prowess}. I DID find something referencing the ‘Andreasen’ skill at the 1995 Worlds, but I’m stuck there.

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