You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


Oana Petrovschi

It’s time for the 222nd 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.

Aside from Ana Porgras’ fortunate bars bronze, the only other bars medal that Romania ever had after 2000 was Oana Petrovschi in 2002. How was her routine? Why didn’t we see her in Athens?

Her routine was very nice, she had lovely lines, excellent extension, clean form, and difficult skills (including a layout Gienger and Fabrichnova dismount)…just super lovely work, especially for a first-year senior. She was planning on being part of the Athens team, but she had to end her career due to multiple injuries sustained in 2003. After noticing a fracture in her back, doctors told her she needed to rest for three weeks, but Octavian Bellu and Mariana Bitang took her to a competition right away where she suffered an ankle injury, and then at another competition shortly after, she broke her back further and this time it was much more serious and could’ve resulted in her being paralyzed.

She spent months unable to move, the federation refused to pay for the surgery, and she had to sue them to get the money to be treated (the federation settled), but it wasn’t enough, so she started coaching in Austria so she could make some money. This exacerbated her back pain even more and she had to have more surgeries to fix her back, including one heavily invasive one during which doctors spent seven hours going in through her abdomen to reach her vertebrae and insert a titanium plate.

Truly a sad story, especially because she would spend a lot of time looking back at her career and thinking “I shouldv’e been in Athens, I should’ve won more medals,” but because of the actions of her coaches, her career was cut way too short. But she eventually left Romania, marrying an American and moving with him to Canada, where she now works as a coach.

Do you think the recent uproar concerning the Larry Nassar trial and Valeri Liukin’s resignation will affect the performance of American gymnasts in the coming quad?

I don’t think so. The current generation at the moment isn’t quite as strong as a whole compared to this point in time during the last quad, so they’re starting out at a disadvantage even without all of the upheaval within USAG, but I think thanks to the strength of their club coaches and gyms, they’ll still be able to train at a high enough level to perform really well internationally. Even last year, when it was looking like non-U.S. gymnasts would out-medal the U.S. girls, two of the least experienced U.S. gymnasts ended up stepping up and crushing it, especially with Morgan Hurd winning the all-around gold under HELLA pressure. I’m not worried about the girls. I think if anything, they’re coming together even stronger in spite of everything that’s happening that’s out of their control. If anything, not having the support of a full national team staff at the moment is going to make things tricky, but I do think they are showing how strong they are to come together as a team. Just watching Morgan take control last night before events was so amazing; it looks like most of the girls in more senior roles are going to step up and become fantastic leaders.

Is there any place where NCAA perfect 10 records are listed? What is the current record for most individual perfect 10s?

Not that I know of…hopefully Road To Nationals will take care of stuff like records for them because lawd knows I have enough going on trying to do that for elite! But each school has its own history/records where they keep their own stuff, so even though it’s not like, NCAA-wide, you can see it on the school level through their guides. I wouldn’t be surprised if Maggie Nichols had a record in terms of the most recent who have had a ton of 10s, and I guess Courtney Kupets would also be way up there. I think Maggie has the record for 2018, if that helps you!

Why is Pauline Schäfer so underrated even though her beam and floor are amazing?

YOU GOT ME. She’s always been amazing. I guess because her difficulty isn’t through the roof, especially on floor, she’s not seen as generally competitive but let me tell you…watching her beam from about ten feet away in the worlds event final last year, my brain exploded. She is HANDS DOWN one of the best beam workers on earth right now. Seeing her up close compared to anyone else up close is an experience that is beyond your wildest dreams. There is just so much that she does right, so much that she emphasizes, so much that is perfect, and yet the more difficult routines have just overshadowed what she has been able to do. I just wish she had more difficulty on floor so she could make some finals!

Any chance you know if Enya Pouliot from Canada is still training? She was scoring quite well as a junior but we haven’t seen anything from her since 2016.

I don’t believe she is still training…she hasn’t competed at the elite level since 2016 and she hasn’t resurfaced at the J.O. level either. She doesn’t really post on social media often from the looks of it, but none of her posts look gymnastics-related so I’m guessing she’s no longer training, but that’s not confirmed.

What is the situation with Catherine Lyons? Is she still training? Did she quit because of her coach? Has Rachelle Douglas been fired? Is Rachelle the reason “team sparkle” that was popular on YouTube years ago often switched clubs and many girls quit or started training elsewhere?

Catherine is no longer training and has retired from the sport. I believe her coach is part of the reason why she retired, in addition to being injured. I don’t know what happened with her coach in terms of being fired or leaving the gym or what really went down in that situation, but I do know that a lot of gymnasts were very unhappy there and with her specifically. I haven’t heard of “team sparkle” but just looking it up now, I would guess that since she treated her gymnasts the way she did, most probably left her to get away from her.

I’ve noticed elite gymnasts competing at J.O. meets this season, like Margzetta Frazier, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf, and Norah Flatley. Have they all retired from elite? How can they compete in J.O. meets if they haven’t?

Margzetta is still competing at the elite level, but I believe just did some routines at a L10 meet because it was a meet hosted by her gym. She has been to both national team camps so far this year, and got an international assignment at the Birmingham World Cup, where she earned the silver all-around medal in her international debut, and she’s also the alternate for Pac Rims. Norah retired from elite and competed at some L10 meets this season, and she looked fabulous, but looked like she was taking it slow (only doing bars and beam at states, for example, so she couldn’t qualify to regionals even though she looked great on both events). Sydney hasn’t officially decided if she’s going to do elite this summer, so she didn’t drop down to L10 officially, but I think she more than likely will.

With the format changes to team competitions for 2019 worlds, do you foresee that federations may begin to put their lowest scoring gymnast last in the rotation as a strategy to interfere with the competition potentially putting their best gymnast last? Like, would Russia put Seda Tutkhalyan last in the rotation so she goes before Laurie Hernandez in the hopes that it will pull Laurie’s score down?

No, I don’t think that will happen. In terms of team strategy, in elite competition all teams tend to focus on themselves, not on what the other team is going to do or on trying to ‘bring down’ the other team. I feel like that’s counter-productive because it might not lower their scores even if you think it will, and by not putting their strongest up last, they’re really only hurting themselves…especially because if anything, if the judges saw Seda and Laurie back to back on beam, it would only highlight Seda’s flaws and make the judges subconsciously want to give Laurie even MORE than she’d get normally, which would be a total backfire.

At what point is a formerly professional gymnast allowed to be officially associated with an NCAA team? For example, Jordyn Wieber is a volunteer assistant coach at UCLA. How long would she have to wait to someday be eligible to be paid for her coaching work?

She doesn’t have to wait to be paid for her coaching work…she could’ve come right into the coaching scene and gotten paid right away. She just wanted to work for UCLA because she was attending the program as a student, and when no paid positions opened up after she graduated from college, she decided to take the volunteer role instead of looking for a paid coaching job elsewhere because UCLA was where she wanted to stay.

Is Victoria Nguyen injured? Still training elite? What school is she looking at for college?

She’s still training but I’d imagine she’s injured or something…she made an appearance at the verification camp in April but wasn’t there ‘officially’ as someone participating in the actual testing to try to make the team. My guess is that because she hasn’t committed anywhere yet, she probably has Stanford in mind because you have to wait to be academically accepted before you can commit as an athlete, which takes a bit longer (you also have to be academically accepted at other programs, but schools will still let them commit because basically no one will have a problem with the admission criteria, and if they do, they generally just have to sort out high school credits which just delays them a year or so). Since she’s looking to enter in the 2019-2020 school year, she wouldn’t be academically accepted until next fall at the earliest. Right now, Stanford has no one listed as commits for that class, so they’re all still in that process of trying to get academically accepted before committing as athletes, so that’s why I think she’s just waiting for this process to be over, and then she’ll go from there.

Who are the Jaeger and Gienger releases named after?

The Jaeger is named for Bernd Jäger, a German Olympian who first performed the skill at the 1974 world championships (his last name is anglicized from Jäger to Jaeger, just like Pauline Schäfer’s is anglicized to Schaefer, in case that’s confusing!). The Gienger is named for Eberhard Gienger, also a German Olympian (and now a member of parliament) in the 70s who first performed the skill on high bar shortly after Jäger debuted his eponymous skill.

In a hypothetical situation where Irina Alexeeva could compete for Russia, would she make the Euros or worlds team? Could she medal?

Having just seen her at Russian nationals, where she finished seventh all-around with the bronze medals on bars and floor, I think she’s in a position to be a solid alternate for either Euros or worlds. Her difficulty just isn’t quite there on any event to make her a standout, so of course the Rodionenkos don’t think she’s “good enough” but honestly I think she just needs a bit more experience and she’ll prove herself to be a solid and reliable contender for either team. She also just came back from injury so once she’s had more time, by the time Russia is getting ready to name its Euros and worlds teams, I could definitely see her factoring in. I don’t see her as an individual standout just yet, but she could go up anywhere in a team competition and put up a great score if she hits.

If Madison Kocian hadn’t been injured at nationals in 2013, do you think she would’ve been a threat for worlds that year?

Most likely yes, for the bars spot!

Has there ever been any discussion of allowing gymnasts to raise or lower the vaulting table according to their preference?

Not that I know of…at least not officially. I think most gymnasts competing at FIG settings want it to be raised a bit, because FIG is fairly low for WAG, and often when gymnasts transition from elite to NCAA they’re like “yaaaaas the vault is higher” hahaha. Pretty much everyone gets used to the setting it’s on, but I’m sure it would just make things easier for so many girls if they could raise or lower it within a certain range, especially because some of the international elites competing under FIG settings are like, barely 4’6” while the taller girls are in the neighborhood of 5’6”. If the range in height between gymnasts is a foot or more, it makes no sense that they’re all vaulting on the same exact setting…though I can see how logistically it would get annoying to change the vault repeatedly all competition long so I understand why the FIG wouldn’t want to change things.

Do you know what happened to Shea Mahoney? Do you know how serious Nichelle Christopherson’s injury is?

Shea rolled her ankle early in the season, so she was able to continue vaulting and doing bars, but was limited on floor and ended up not competing much there. Nichelle also rolled her ankle, on choreo of all things, but was eventually able to come back to the bars lineup…unfortunate that she couldn’t do more in such a record-breaking season for ASU! They could’ve used her, especially in the latter half, but even without her the rest of the team really stepped up.

We know a gymnast can get points taken off for a bra strap showing or long hair touching the floor, but are there any other ‘dumb’ things that get points taken off?

Hmmm…the “unaesthetic padding” rule is funny to me because like, god forbid a gymnast need like, heel padding or something and the FIG’s like “sorry, too ugly!!”

Do you know how rhythmic gymnastics works in terms of routine construction and judging? Are there D and E scores? Why isn’t there rhythmic for men?

Yes, there are D and E scores in rhythmic. The D panel evaluates the routine’s technical value, including body difficulty (jumps, leaps, balances), apparatus mastery and originality, dynamic elements (throws and rotations of apparatus), and dance combinations. The E panel determines the execution score, evaluating the artistic components of the routine, the unity of composition, use of space, body movements, correlation between music and movement, even use of right and left hands, and any technical faults. As with artistic gym, the D and E scores are added together for the total combined score, but the biggest thing to note in rhythmic is that the D score maxes out at 10.00 points, and so with a perfect E score and maxed out D score, the highest combined score can be a 20.00…and with four apparatuses, the highest all-around score possible is an 80.00.

There are some men’s rhythmic teams and programs that exist, but just not as an FIG discipline. My guess is that because gymnastics tends to be quite sexist at times, rhythmic is probably seen as too “girly” and not something most men would want to do. Anyway, it’s apparently really big in Japan, where there are an estimated 2,000 male rhythmic gymnasts who compete either solo or as part of a group, and many of them go on to become performers in Cirque du Soleil. I think a men’s rhythmic team performed during the breaks at the Tokyo World Cup, and I’m hoping the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony is nothing but men’s rhythmic the whole time, basically. Here’s my favorite men’s rhythmic performance

Could someone do a dismount from beam where she does a back handspring series and dismounts from her hands instead of her feet?

Nope! Well, not in the current code, anyway. But Tunde Zsilinszk did it in 1985!

Can you explain how Laney Madsen transitioned so easily/quickly from cheerleading to gymnastics? How was it possible that her cheer skills transferred to other events in gymnastics?

Because cheer incorporates so many of the same types of elements; even though the foundational practice is a bit different, it was much easier for her to start out with a super high-level cheer background and make the transition into artistic gymnastics, at least on vault, beam, and floor…even if vault and beam aren’t necessarily the same as anything in cheer, the basics behind them are similar and it would just be about getting used to doing certain elements on the vault table or on the beam. Bars was obviously the hardest because it has no relation to cheer at all, aside from just the general flipping aspect in a dismount or in a salto release, so I’m sure that’s what the biggest focus was when she started training in artistic gymnastics, and it’s no surprise that this tends to be a low-difficulty and low-execution event for her. But considering she started from scratch there, she actually picked it up quite well and she gets kudos for trying!

Is it possible to do a Pak into an immediate Endo? Is this a banned skill?

It’s possible and isn’t illegal, but the Pak would basically have to be caught with the hands rotated over the top of the bar so the gymnast could immediately do a forward swing out of it, and while it’s possible, it’s not the ideal way to catch a Pak. Monica Shaw did it in the 90s, so it became known as “The Shaw” colloquially even though it’s a combination of two skills rather than one skill on its own, but the way the Pak was caught was completely wrong for how a Pak should be caught, so either the Pak caught like that would have to become a new skill recognized by the FIG, or the gymnast doing this combo would have to be prepared to be very heavily deducted on the way she catches her Pak!

If someone is a member of the England squad but not the British squad does this mean they’re good but not great?

I mean, I guess, if you want to say it in those terms? Every national squad in GB — the English, the Welsh, the Scottish — includes the top gymnasts in each of those countries, and then the British squad takes the best of the best, the majority of whom come from England, though not everyone on the English squad will also be selected for the British squad for whatever reason…usually because they’re not as strong and don’t meet the requirements for those selected to the British squad.

In your opinion, what NCAA women’s gymnastics team has the longest history/tradition of excellence? Which NCAA team do you think was the greatest of all time?

I think Utah wins that battle, if only because it was one of the first programs on the scene, came out at a super high level, and has maintained that high level for over 40 years. Utah has competed at every single national championships since 1976, winning 10 national titles over the years, and they’ve made the Super Six in 21 out of the 26 years it’s been a thing. Even though they haven’t been the absolute BEST team since the 90s as we started seeing more competition from the SEC (notably Georgia and Alabama, with Florida joining their prestige over the past decade, and then also from UCLA), they’ve still maintained their positioning as a top ten program during this entire program…and for a majority of these years, a top five program. In terms of its history, Utah is the Romania of college gymnastics, though unlike Romania, it has withstood the test of time and continues to be a thriving program even in the face of younger, newer, up-and-coming rivals.

What are your thoughts on chances for the Netherlands qualifying with the men’s team for the Olympics?

I mean, they did it in 2016, and I think they could definitely do it again if they put everything together at worlds when it’s time to qualify next year. They’re held back on a couple of events, most notably pommels, but I think if they can make it through with big scores on floor, p-bars, and high bar especially, they could definitely make the top 12 at worlds pretty easily in 2019 which would mean qualifying again to the Games as a full team.

Which folk song would you want to see Aly Raisman use? And what would be your pick for Lieke Wevers and Aliya Mustafina?

I don’t know which one I’d use for each individual so I’ll just pick three that I think would make fun routines. I really want someone to use “Korobushka” which gives me such Tetris feels. “Katyusha” would also be good, and actually no, Aly and Aliya can fight over those two, but I need Lieke deep in my soul to do “Dark Eyes.” I also love “Two Guitars” so let’s throw that one in there as well.

Do you know Bai Yawen’s floor music from national games last year?

The music is “Prologue” by Loreena McKennitt.

Is there any way NCAA gymnastics could take the lead of USAG? It seems like this would be a pretty assured way to ensure a positive environment.

No, the NCAA isn’t a gymnastics governing body, it’s a university body encompassing multiple sports beyond gymnastics. They’d have no jurisdiction to take over and the NCAA in general has nothing to do with how the environments are within the sport…that’s up to each individual NCAA coach, and every environment at the college level is different, with some being just as toxic as USAG’s WAG program in terms of the culture.

Which senior elite gymnasts from 2017 have dropped down to level 10 for this year?

Leah Clapper, Sydney Johnson-Scharpf (though she’s still debating whether or not she’ll come back to elite this summer), and Abby Paulson are the ones I know for sure.

Was Ashton Locklear’s decision to go pro a bad one in terms of making money?

She didn’t decide to go pro over going to NCAA. She decided not to do NCAA because her injuries wouldn’t allow her to compete on a weekly basis, and so instead of going to Florida as planned, she ended up choosing not to go to college for gymnastics at all. Because of this decision, she is able to take advantage of endorsement opportunities when they come along, though she’s not exactly earning a killer living by doing it. Had she said “I’m not going to college because I want to go pro!” it would’ve been a bad decision, but she can still earn a solid amount of money with the opportunities that come her way, so for what she’s doing, it’s totally fine.

Why did MyKayla Skinner get a 10 on floor at Pac 12 Championships last year with flexed feet on her double double and full-in?

Why does literally anyone in NCAA get a 10 on literally any routine with flaws? Almost zero “perfect 10” routines have actually been perfect. MyKayla’s one perfect 10 of her career should be the least of your concerns when other routines get 10s week in and week out with equally or even more noticeable flaws.

Did Maggie Nichols get recruited by every NCAA gym team? Same with other elites?

Most schools express interest in pretty much all of the top elites, but the gymnasts won’t have time to go on official visits with every single program, so they pick the ones they’re most interested in (which is probably generally around three or four schools on average) for visits and more in-depth recruiting. But yeah, around age 12 is when colleges start sending recruiting envelopes and packages to gymnasts care of their gyms, and it’s not unusual for a top athlete at that age to hear from literally every top program.

Why does UCLA have a totally different style of leos and hair than other NCAA teams?

Because that’s their stylistic choice and aesthetic.

I find myself being quite upset about the 2018 worlds being held in Doha. The anti-gay laws in Qatar are awful and the press freedom situation is dire. Do you think we’ll see any gymnasts or media outlets not attend out of personal fear or personal objection?

I haven’t heard of any gymnasts expressing concerns or saying they’re not going to attend, but as for media outlets, I know Gymcastic is thinking of not going, and I’m sure others will also debate whether it’s a good decision or not. I’m almost certainly going, but what I’ve heard from friends who have gone there to cover sporting events is that while the country itself is obviously super problematic, when welcoming outsiders for sports opportunities, they tend to be a bit more open and accepting because Doha is trying to make itself known as a top sports city and they can’t exactly do that by imprisoning every visiting athlete and media member. That’s why they’ve also become more lenient with letting in Jewish/Israeli athletes and media, and world governing bodies for sports have told them “if you want to host these events, you have to accept EVERYONE,” so even though in general they’re pretty terrible, for sporting events I don’t think the concern for safety is really as necessary.

How secure are the apparatuses from tipping or wobbling? Are they bolted to the podium?

They’re kind of like, not bolted to the podium, but they’re secure enough in the way they’re set up that they’re likely not going to topple over, though it has happened before with the bars breaking.

Is there a deduction for not swinging in the center of the bar for most of your routine?

No, but because most elements need to be center, the only time you really see gymnasts go off-center is when they pirouette or catch a low-to-high element that twists and takes them out-of-line, and these wouldn’t incur deductions, especially because the gymnast usually then corrects almost immediately.

With the current state of USAG do you anticipate fewer girls will defer their college scholarships?

No. I don’t think many are willing to put their dreams aside just because USAG is a mess. Most I’ve heard of who plan on deferring to train for the Olympics, like Morgan Hurd and Ragan Smith and several others, haven’t changed their plans and it’s doubtful they will, unless they get injured or something and personally no longer want to make Tokyo a goal.

How many hours is the NCAA training cap? How do they enforce that? If someone wanted to do elite and NCAA simultaneously would they be allowed extra training hours?

The maximum is four hours per day and 20 hours per week. Every school has NCAA reps who advocate for athletes and make sure every rule in the NCAA rules and bylaws is followed. If someone personally decides they want to train more because they’re simultaneously training at the elite level, this wouldn’t be considered training for NCAA, but rather on their own time, and so the NCAA would have no regulation over how many hours they could train. I think they’d have to train at a separate time from the team, however, if they wanted to use the NCAA practice facility.

Are Russian gymnasts training at Round Lake living there for free? Are they paid to train/live there? Does the Russian federation have a bigger budget than USAG?

Yes, they live there for free, and I believe the national team members get a salary, though I’m not sure how much it is or what it covers. I think USAG has a bigger budget, because the club fees and money they make from having a massive J.O. and rec program is insane, but Russia’s budget is I believe fully funded by the government and the majority of it goes to salaries for coaches, gymnasts, trainers, and the facility. The Round Lake facility is insane! Really excellent for a national team center.

Do you know anything about Kyla Ross’ sister McKenna? Why didn’t she do gymnastics, and why didn’t Kyla do volleyball?

Every kid is different. When kids go into sports at young ages, they tend to try out a bunch and find one that clicks, or they have no interest in a sport and don’t want to try it out at all. I don’t know how good her sister is at volleyball, but with Kyla, she probably tried a few things and then they realized super early on that she was insanely talented as a gymnast and that’s where she ended up excelling and going to a higher level.

Do you think Nastia Liukin trying for London 2012 was influenced by Valeri Liukin’s wish/need to be at another Olympics after he realized Rebecca Bross wouldn’t make it?

No. She began planning her comeback long before Valeri realized Rebecca wouldn’t make it, and she genuinely wanted to return to the sport. I doubt any coach forces a gymnast to go back into elite gymnastics just because the coach wants to go to the Olympics, lol. And it was pretty clear that Madison Kocian had a great shot in 2016…if getting to the Olympics was Valeri’s goal, he easily could’ve just stolen Madison from Laurent Landi. Again, highly doubt that would be any coach’s motivation.

When I watch videos of older gymnasts on beam or floor, they hardly fall or take many steps and everything seems to look more fluid. Why do you think gymnasts aren’t as solid today?

It’s hard to say. It’s not like they’re all doing easier skills…there are some insane beam routines from the 90s that are just so perfect and fluid while also being crazy difficult. I think a large part of it is that gymnastics has become so formulaic in recent years with the code of points also involving a D score? There were difficulty requirements before, but gymnasts had more leeway with the kinds of skills they chose and how they composed their routines, but now with so many D score elements and requirements and the need to build a score that has the maximum value, personal style and composition goes out the window in favor of skills that they know will score well. I think the biggest 90s factor that’s missing now isn’t so much the falling, because that did happen a LOT in the 90s too, but rather the fluidity and the style. Now, gymnasts who might be able to put together a really unique and lovely dance series see that wolf turns are the most difficult and least likely to get deducted, so instead of doing a fluid and gorgeous series, they do back-to-back wolf turns. That’s my biggest problem with the sport and with the routine composition when comparing the 90s (and earlier) to today. There are some that maintain an old-school flair, but the majority are like okay, this is the formula that works for building a D score, so say goodbye to any of your personal and natural stylistic choices!

Why are there so few hop fulls on bars these days?

It’s not valuable enough for the risk when there are easier ways to build difficulty that don’t involve doing a skill like the hop full.

Do you think we could see a stronger Romanian program by 2024 especially now that Andreea Raducan has taken over?

I think 2024 is the earliest we’ll see any sort of rejuvenation of the Romanian program, if only because the problem is with development and it’s obviously going to take time to fix that. If they start now with the girls who are currently about 8-10 years old, hopefully by 2024 they’ll begin to show a more solid foundational level as well as a smoother transition from lower-level skills and abilities into a more competitive skill set for the international elite level. It’s not like she’s going to take the current junior and senior elites and turn them into brand-new athletes. The focus needs to be not on the 2020 Olympics, but rather the future. That was their problem in the past…instead of putting any time or attention into the younger gymnasts, they focused on the competitions one or two years down the line, and like, that’s cool and all but it’s meaningless as a long-term strategy. Getting a team to 2020 isn’t going to be super likely, so that shouldn’t be the focus — beyond 2020 needs to be where all of their attention goes. If it means missing out again in 2020, WHO CARES! That shouldn’t even be a concern. If it happens, great, but every ounce of effort they direct into any changes made needs to go toward the girls who aren’t even elites at the moment.

What music is Katlyn Johnson using in her floor routine? Has anyone else used it? 

It’s a song called “Jaiya Ho” from an animated movie called “Ramayana the Epic.” Larisa Iordache used it around 2013-2014.

Why do gymnasts in NCAA not wear numbers? Are final lineups submitted prior to the meet? Does this make last-minute replacements impossible?

Final lineups aren’t submitted until right after the warmup period, which definitely makes it confusing for broadcast teams, though the judges do have a list of who’s going up and when. Last-minute replacements are allowed, and you’ll often see them subbed in if someone has a really bad warmup and doesn’t look ready to compete even if she was expected to. I’ve seen gymnasts wear numbers at some meets, but in a super sketchy way…like in 2010, I went to a Pac 12 Preview meet at UCLA and the girls all had their numbers like, spray painted on their thighs which looked high key heinous. Technically they all have numbers in NCAA competitions, but I guess judges don’t need to physically see them wearing a number or holding one up or something in the way they do in elite? But yeah, I guess sometimes for bigger NCAA meets with multiple teams they will figure out a way to show who’s going when.

Is there a minimum age a gymnast must be to become elite?

It depends on the country. Internationally, juniors have to be 14-15 and seniors have to be 16+, but each country can make its own rules for how they determine who can compete elite domestically. In the U.S., gymnasts can go elite as young as 10, though most opt to do Hopes at that age, which is like a pre-elite kind of program. Hopes is for gymnasts aged 10-13 in the U.S. for those who want to go elite but might not be ready yet, but if a gymnast is ten and clearly ready to be elite both mentally and in terms of her skill level, she doesn’t have to do Hopes and can just start competing at that age. In other countries, many won’t start putting gymnasts on a pre-elite track until they’re about 11 or 12, so 10 is about the youngest you’ll see, and outside the U.S. most countries tend to take development a little more slowly. I’ve seen some pre-elite competitors in Belgium doing flat back vaults up to age 11 or 12, whereas in the U.S. pretty much everyone has at least a Yurchenko pike or layout by that point, and some 12-year-olds have competed Amanars. Most don’t want to risk that high difficulty early on, though, so they limit the level of difficulty a pre-elite can compete.

It seems really difficult acro skills would be harder from a standing position but you get connection bonus when you do something like an arabian or tuck full out of a roundoff or back handspring. Is it actually easier to do them alone even though you don’t have the extra momentum?

I wouldn’t say anything done on beam is ‘easy’ whether from standing or out of a skill with momentum, with the trickiest part being staying on the beam for any of them. Pretty much any gymnast at the elite level can do a standing full on the floor, so the tricky part isn’t the skill itself, but rather doing it on the beam and not falling down. So in that sense, even though you don’t get that extra momentum on beam when doing a skill as a standing skill, momentum isn’t the problem, so connecting it out of a back handspring or something isn’t necessarily about adding momentum but rather making it harder by doing it directly connected into something else, which makes it harder to keep your alignment and balance to stay on the beam.

Why is an inbar and inbar half connected not given bonus even though they’re both D skills?

Are they not given bonus? I hadn’t heard that. I would think they are?

If a gymnast starts a turn with her free leg held in passé and can’t maintain it during the turn is there any deduction? It ruins the aesthetic of the skill.

Yeah, I think they’d be deducted for lack of control in terms of holding the position throughout the duration of the turn.

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Article by Lauren Hopkins

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38 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

    • I don’t know, I’ve talked to a lot of parents of younger gymnasts in the lower J.O. levels and at the devo level, and most parents trust their coaches enough that they realize this was just a terrible thing to have happened, but they hope with diligence on their part, now that they’re more aware of what happened, they’ll be able to protect their kids better. Abusers exist in every sport, in schools, in churches…it’s a bump in the road right now but parents won’t completely keep kids out of a sport because of this. If anything it’ll just lead to parents being more aware of the dangers of letting people within a sport or school program have complete control over their kids, and hopefully they’ll step up and take control over their kids’ activities rather than letting coaches and national team programs do whatever they want while keeping them in the dark.


  1. Elena Arenas also dropped down to level 10 in preparation for going to LSU. She’s on 2020 on GymDivas so that seems like a long time but maybe she’ll go early?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought that the CV rules on bars states that any D+D skills had to include a minimum full turn to get connection value, with the exception of releases.


  3. “Why does UCLA have a totally different style of leos and hair than other NCAA teams?”

    Because they are awesome, Miss Val is awesome, and that’s that.

    #fixeditforyou #GoBruins #NCAA115

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Do people have any ideas about what could bring back fluidity and style to beam? Because I’m not a fan of getting rid of the D score (I think we’re all somewhat biased based on what era we started watching – the first olympics I remember are ’08 and ’12, so I grew up with D scores and don’t get the nostalgia for the 10), but I do like the idea of getting more style on beam. Other than devaluing the @%##(% wolf turn…

    It seems like the judges were *trying* reward fluidity on beam at worlds in 2016, but what we ended up getting was really low E scores, and I’m not sure it’s led to an overhaul, although it’s early days.


      • Looking back on Mustafinas 2012 bar final, its so underwhelming, and quite frankly boring. IN the moment, I was all for her win. She hit the best. But man, that routine does not hold up, looking back one thinks,omg thats the routine that won! Compared to Tweddles and He’s routine, that was so original and looks cool… But alas, they didnt hit the best that day… and Aliya won. But her routine looking at it now is like… Womp Womp!


        • Really? I love it and it’s definitely in my top 5 of all time. Probably it may feel underwhelming now because literally EVERY bars routine in the world has the same basic composition. By the way, I much prefer Aliya’s 2012 routine to the 2016 one (mainly because I don’t like her Maloney or Komova II).


        • Yep really. Compared to He and Tweddles exciting routine yes really really What was so great about it? What stood out? That one transition? Please. Gimme He’s double release, and Tweddles amazing connections anyday… lol 🙂


  5. “Why is an inbar and inbar half connected not given bonus even though they’re both D skills?”

    I figured this one out after I asked the question. The COP sec. 11.4 states that C/D elements must have flight or minimum of 1/2 turn. I take that to mean that EACH of the connected skills must have these minimum requirements for the CV to be awarded. So inbar+inbar1/2 doesn’t count but an inbar1/2 to inbar1/1 would get the CV. Does my interpretation of this rule that sound accurate?


    • Any D+D gets CV, the C/D element must have flight or min. ½ turn (180°) is in reference to the CV for transitioning to the HB. Example Maloney+Clear hip 1/2, D+C=.20 or Maloney+Tkatchev, D+D=.20


  6. For the Rhythmic question, I remember last year they were talking about removing the 10.0 D-score cap. Not sure if the FIG followed through or not though!

    Liked by 1 person

      • For sure. Both the Averina twins have routines that exceed the 10.0, so even if they miss a skill they still get that perfect D-score. Which I found absolutely mind-blowing!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, in the new code of points there is no difficult cap. As far as I know, no individual gymnast has gotten above a 20 on a routine yet (but some have had difficulties over 10), and a few of the group exercises have scored over 20!


  7. Are Bitang and Belu complete morons? Who would look at a back fracture, be told by doctors that it needs three weeks of rest— which isn’t even that long— and send her to competition immediately? Especially considering she was a huge asset to them, both for the team and individually. Then again that’s not the only questionable decision they’ve made regarding the health of their athletes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe as well as a questionable attitude towards athlete safety it’s also an overall attitude to injuries and an unwillingness to play the long game. I always figure coaches at that level have someone to answer to and if they pulled her from competition and their higher-ups said “Why?” and they said “Injury” maybe they knew the answer would be “Not good enough. Send her.” It’s obviously the wrong attitude and I hope it changes, but when you think about the “diva” accusations that get thrown around with the Russian team and others, maybe that’s their cushion – they know if they don’t throw a fit and refuse to do something then they’re just railroaded into working through injuries.

      I imagine it’s a pretty complex issue!


  8. Honestly, USAG still makes so much money, to compete as a compulsory or xcel gymnast you basically pay $125 or 175 or something crazy to even be able to compete as well club membership fees and fees from every meet held. Even without crazy elite sponsorships, the amount they get from JO is insane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • YUP. When I became a pro member to start judging I paid something like $300 outright. Every club and JO gymnast pays SO much, it’s insane. The elite program can easily stay funded from that.


  9. In rhytmic gymnastics there is no maximum D-score anymore (the rule was valid for 2017 but got removed this year). For example Italy’s 5 hoops got 21,100 with 13,5 D score just a couple days ago at the Baku world cup.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Technically couldn’t you connect a pak to an endo without a significant deduction if you catch the pak in a handstand? There have been a few bail+endo connections, so maybe it would be different in handstand.


    • A pak isn’t meant to be caught in handstand; a bail is. That’s why I say if we can get a skill in the code that’s basically a Pak to handstand (caught in a reverse grip because it would be meant to go into a forward skill), it would work…but a Pak as it is, it’s meant to be caught at an angle, usually about 45 ish degrees from vertical.


  11. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: I shall call him Mini-Me | The Gymternet

  12. Responding to the snark questioning Mykayla Skinner’s one and only 10. Really. Have you watched 90 percent of th10’s. she has the difficulty and performance quality beyond most. She doesn’t jump out of every pass and is generally under scored compared to others in the same meet. Kocian does a pixie routine that a 12 year old could pull off with obvious errors and gets virtually the same scores. You might want to look into other questions in the vast and unpredictable scoring in NCAA instead of joining the ongoing Skinner hate club. 2 years and it’s still going on. It’s time for at least parole if not exoneration. If she was part of a team dwelling within the promised land in college gymnastics (one of the sacred say top 3) her “flexed feet” would go unnoticed. She is a pleasure to watch and she generates excitement and initiates higher performance levels in her team. Hopefully you and the other snarks will cut her some slack next season. It’s really getting old


    • THANK YOU. Mykayla may not be “artistic” in the traditional sense of the word but she has much more musicality than most and competes an insanely high level of difficulty week in and week out, and with very few (if any) notable flaws. If she was on Oklahoma’s or Florida’s squad she’d be getting 10s at three or four meets a season, *at least*.


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