It’s time for the 226th 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.
Do you know why Rebeca Andrade never performed her 1½ double tuck at the Olympics?
She was still recovering from injuries in the months going into Rio, and I don’t think she got the training time she needed to focus on upgrades. After getting injured in 2015, she was out for almost a year and didn’t get floor back until about six weeks before the Games, so I think her priorities were just getting as much back as possible but in a safe way. Whatever they did with her was amazing; her qualifications performance was out-of-this-world and I wish she had competed that way in finals because I think she easily could’ve medaled…but I think they paced her SO well out of her injury recovery, with not bringing floor back until they absolutely had to, and then testing her all-around at that one Dutch meet a month before the Olympics started…it would’ve been nice to see her get that skill out there and named but that wasn’t the priority with so much else on the line.
What is the purpose of an exhibition routine in NCAA? Can a team do as many as they want?
It’s a way to give alternates for each lineup a way to get out there and perform in front of a crowd and in front of judges (who score the routines, also giving the coaches a look at how they could do in competition). In regular season, they can pretty much do as many as they want…teams try to keep it at one per rotation, but sometimes at home meets, teams will push for more, and I’ve sometimes seen three exhibition routines at times, though that’s rare because that would mean teams have nine healthy gymnasts on an event which almost NEVER happens. I saw this on floor once from a lower-ranked program and was like what black magic is this?! NINE GYMNASTS READY AND ABLE TO COMPETE FLOOR?!
Why didn’t some of UCLA’s freshmen compete this year?
They have a stacked roster with tons of walk-ons. They competed the gymnasts who were going to add the most to each team/lineup, and at some regular season meets, they tested gymnasts who were postseason alternates for each event. All of the freshmen who didn’t compete this season were walk-ons, so they likely just didn’t have the routines to make lineups.
Was Kelly Simm’s floor music at the American Cup the same music that Myia Hambrick used at LSU in 2016? How often does an elite gymnast get inspiration from NCAA? What exactly is the song?
Yeah, it’s the same…I believe it’s a Parov Stelar mix, and many gymnasts have used this before going back many years (at all levels of the sport…there’s an adult gymnastics routine using this mix from 2014 on YouTube). It’s possible she saw Myia’s routine and said “I want that” but that’s usually an unlikely path for elite gymnasts choosing floor music. Most have choreographers and coaches who take control of the music selection, and while there’s some aspect of choice in it for gymnasts, it’s rare for them to say “I want to do this person’s music” because most are trying to do something original/unique. You’ll often see gymnasts in J.O. and NCAA (and in smaller international elite programs) hear what the top gymnasts are doing at the Olympics and be like “I want THAT!” which is why literally everyone and their mother did Laurie Hernandez’s routine last year in NCAA. It’s possible Kelly or her choreographers saw Myia’s routine and was like “I want THAT!” but not super likely.
How is Norah Flatley doing in level 10?
She did great! She only competed all-around once, and not at states, so she couldn’t qualify to regionals or nationals, but she looked fab on what she did compete…like 9.5 or better for most of her routines, and I think her lowest score was a 9.3 on vault. Her highs this season were a 9.8 on vault, 9.75 on bars, 9.6 on beam, and 9.675 on floor, which is really strong for J.O. scores.
Do you know why Emma Malabuyo isn’t on the national team and didn’t go to the verification camps?
She didn’t go to the two verification camps early in the year because her priority wasn’t to earn an American Cup or Pac Rims spot and the only point of those camps was to verify (either for a spot at one of those meets or to earn a nationals score), but she went to the national team camp last month in Tennessee. She’s on the national team, but listed as a junior still because she hasn’t yet earned a senior spot (gymnasts are only being bumped up to senior if they’ve verified and earned a senior team spot, which is why Maile O’Keefe was bumped up but other girls from last year’s junior team like Gabby Perea and Kara Eaker haven’t yet gotten that bump).
Is a back spin like Li Li did on beam an element on floor? What is it valued?
A double back spin is a rated element on floor, at a B…a single MIGHT be an A but I can’t find it in the code so maybe not. I’ve seen a couple of floor routines recently with back spins, including one really nice double from Taïs Boura, an espoir-level gymnast in France. Chances are, she’s doing it more for the aesthetics of her routine than for the difficulty value, because most gymnasts counting eight elements are counting skills higher than B elements, so the same is absolutely true for anyone doing a single back spin, whether it’s worth nothing or an A.
What CV would a front handspring connected to a barani receive on beam?
It would get 0.2 if they go by the B+D forward elements direct connection bonus rule, but since the lowest-valued barani is an F, I could see the technical committee approving another tenth on top of that, since a backwards B+F is worth 0.2 and the front handspring to front half is MUCH harder. Sometimes the WTC will approve additional bonus, as they did with Ellie Black on floor. I think when writing the code, they sometimes don’t realize that some gymnasts are truly going to GO FOR IT, and so certain combos that warrant more than what they expected to see will get paid that bonus if the gymnast and her federation petition for it.
Why isn’t OU’s home attendance that high when they have been three-time national champions in recent years?
It’s probably just that it’s not marketed as well as it could be in that area? I think the SEC did a fantastic job with airing its meets on a major network and creating buzz weekly with the Friday Night Heights moniker…the buzz is still relatively new for Florida and LSU, but Georgia and Alabama have a 30-year rivalry that still draws crowds, and Utah is also legendary in that sense with a 40+ year history, which is why they average over 15,000 fans in attendance at every home meet. Oklahoma as they look now are still pretty fresh on the scene, and they’re not getting that same national attention from a major network.
Their attendance has grown over the years, but another thing to note is that Norman is a college town in a pretty otherwise rural area (I drove there from Dallas once for a meet and felt like I was on Mars during the majority of that drive until I finally got to Norman and was like YAS CIVILIZATION). I think most of the other schools are located in similarly-populated cities or large college towns as well, but they’re surrounded more by suburbs than by cows, which helps…there’s a lot more going on in the vicinity of the Athens, Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, Salt Lake City, and Baton Rouge areas than there is in the Norman area. They’re not, like, bustling metropolitan cities or whatever, but driving around the area surrounding Baton Rouge was way less “where am I” surreal than driving around that area in Oklahoma south of Norman.
What was the highest E score at worlds or the Olympics on each apparatus last quad?
Two came at the Olympics…the highest on bars was a 9.266 from Gabby Douglas (who hit this both in qualifications and in team finals), and on floor it was a 9.133 from Simone Biles in the all-around. Simone reached around a 9.7 on vault a couple of times throughout the quad, but the highest E score on that event actually belongs to McKayla Maroney, who tallied a 9.766 in event finals in 2013. And on beam, Larisa Iordache earned a 9.0 E score on beam in team finals, which was the only 9+ E score of the quad on beam at the Olympics or worlds.
Would Maggie Nichols or MyKayla Skinner have realistic chances of making Tokyo 2020 after competing in NCAA?
I don’t know how realistic it would be timing-wise, because both would be competing in NCAA through to April 2020, meaning they’d only have about a month to train at the elite level before making a push for the team when the qualification process begins in May with meets like classics. They could maybe train elite on the side while competing NCAA, which worked well for Brittany Rogers in 2016, though obviously making the Canadian team with her exact skill set was easier than it will be for an all-arounder to make the U.S. team in 2020. I could see it being more likely for MyKayla, who is already pretty close to her elite difficulty and could definitely put up a fight for one of the individual spots…in 2016, one of those individual spots would’ve belonged to her anyway, so if she can bring back her Amanar and Cheng in addition to a high-difficulty floor set, I can see her making a last-minute push for a spot. Maggie is heavily downgraded, though, so it would be super extreme for her to go from her NCAA routines to elite in just a month. I think she’d need to take the 2019-2020 school year off to focus solely on elite, which I don’t think is something she’d do given that this would be her senior year.
I remember a lot of hubbub about WAIS closing its gymnastics program. Was it closed down or did the gymnasts save it?
I believe it’s still running as a partner with Gymnastics Australia now, which is what helped save it. I believe it did end up getting shut down for a while, but GA along with Gymnastics Western Australia were able to get it back up and running, so hopefully all is good with them now…I know lots of gymnasts were devastated by the changes that occured in the immediate aftermath, with many coaches leaving, but now it seems it’s at least running in some sort of capacity.
Can a gymnast lose NCAA eligibility if they monetize their videos on YouTube?
It depends on how it’s monetized. If they have an uber-popular account that exists based on who they are in the world of sports, then yes, they can lose their eligibility this way. An NCAA rower became popular as a beauty blogger and she had her scholarship threatened, but I think she was able to prove that her popularity had nothing to do with her athletic career and no one even really knew she did that. That’s the fine line, I think. If your monetized vlogs are like, here’s my life, blah blah blah, nothing to do with sports, then it could be okay, but honestly it’s just not worth the risk. It’s better to just wait until your NCAA career is over before you start trying to earn any money based on your popularity/ability to bring in endorsements.
By watching videos on USAG’s YouTube am I indirectly giving money to USAG? If so, should I watch D score videos on other channels?
Yes you are, technically, but what they bring in on YouTube is a teeny tiny percentage of what they bring in overall so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Just pretend that any pennies you’ve handed over by viewing videos are part of what they’re giving to the athletes as part of their national team stipends.
Has anyone ever figured out what kind of voodoo happened with Aly Raisman’s Amanar in both 2012 and 2016? They went from being iffy to the best vaults of her life.
I think part of it was mental, and the other part was just figuring out what she had to do in the touch warm-up to figure out how to get the vault to the best of her ability in the competition. I didn’t hear her talk about it much in 2012, but I know in 2016 she was saying that she realized her first Amanar was always her best, so rather than vaulting an Amanar in the touch and then doing a second one in the competition, she would just do a double as a warm-up, so her first and only Amanar on that podium would be the one that counted. I’d say that’s partly physical, but mostly mental…Aly’s known for her steel Brestyan knees but I think she should be even more known for the mental gymnastics she was able to do in order to get to EXACTLY where she needed to be EXACTLY when it counted. She was always great for the team, but based on the consistency issues she had in individual competition leading up to 2012 and 2016, you’d think her Olympics wouldn’t have been quite as strong, and YET. She’s a magician.
With the number of beam 10s being thrown this season in NCAA, do you think it’s time to fix the code?
I get why not having a perfect 10 code would hurt the sport for the fans and for the morale that comes with the fans and teams “rooting for perfection,” so if they don’t want to change to an open-ended system, then they need to figure out how to maximize deductions or make it harder for gymnasts to start from a 10. The fact that a brilliant routine can get a 9.95 while an okay routine with multiple mistakes can get a 9.9 in the same meet is the dumbest thing on the planet and makes me want to scream. I try not to follow scores when watching meets because I know it’ll only make me want to set things on fire.
Why don’t MAG gymnasts compete more Tkachev entry variations?
It’s a code thing for them…there’s no value in changing it up, so they just do the straight up Tkachevs. I wish they would open the code a bit there to allow for more entry variations as well as for more connections from skill to skill…it would be so insane to see what a MAG gymnast could come up with if they had more room to play. High bar is simultaneously my favorite MAG event because it’s so exciting to watch in finals with the top guys doing the high-flying skills, but in prelims it’s torture seeing basically the same routine one after another with almost zero variation.
What was your favorite NCAA floor routine this season?
Hmmmm…is it sad that it’s June and I’ve already forgotten most of what I saw in NCAA? My brain is like BYEEEE. It’s probably cliché, and I didn’t like it at first, but Katelyn Ohashi’s was always SO well done and so much fun to watch, mostly because she brought that joy to it, it’s definitely the one I looked forward to the most meet after meet. That was the first one that popped into my head, which is telling. Oh, and Sabrina Vega’s!!! I loved hers. Sabrina was my number one, and Katelyn was my number two.
Do you think the current status of USAG will affect the current gymnasts deciding whether or not to go pro?
I doubt it. There’s very little correlation between those two things. The monthly stipend the few on the national team end up getting is a tiny percentage of the years and years of elite costs to that point, so even if USA Gymnastics does end up being like “sorry, we can’t pay the stipend anymore!” it still won’t be something that causes girls to go pro. When you weigh the value of going pro to maybe get a little extra money compared to getting a full college education paid for, 99% of gymnasts will choose college. You also have to consider that most gymnasts who decide to go pro without any major achievements in the sport (like a world all-around title) won’t really make much anyway…like, a few thousand dollars a year from the occasional low-key monetary opportunity compared to a few hundred thousand for college? It’s a no-brainer.
Do you know why Brooklyn Moors didn’t go to the Commonwealth Games?
She was planning on competing at Pac Rims instead, but then a nagging shoulder injury got in the way and they thought it was best for her to skip it.
If a country qualifies to Tokyo in 2018, are the athletes who compete for that country in 2019 also barred from certain ways of qualifying an individual spot? Or since they’re not part of a qualifying team, does the rule still apply?
Nope! Because they weren’t part of the qualifying team, it’s fine. Basically the rule exists so that the same athlete can’t be used to qualify for multiple spots, so someone who helps the team qualify and then also qualifies an individual spot is unfair because one athlete shouldn’t be allowed to technically qualify two spots. But if the team qualified in 2018, the girls who compete at worlds in 2019 who weren’t on that team didn’t have anything to do with the team qualifying a team spot, and so they’re free to qualify individual spots.
Do you think Brooklyn Moors could upgrade her beam dismount?
Yup! I think she could definitely do a double full off. Hopefully we see it eventually!
Do you think the new postseason format for nationals will affect who wins since the competition will be quicker and nobody will have a bye to refocus?
The byes actually hurt the teams more than help them, to be honest. I think the overwhelming feeling for most teams is that it sucks to build up momentum for two rotations, and then have to go sit and hang out for nearly a half hour. They can try to stay pumped up during the bye, and some do like the ability to refocus, but most end up losing a bit of that momentum and then come back out for the next rotation at a lower level of hype.
Also, it’s ridiculous that teams compete either in dual, tri, or quad meets all season long, and then get to postseason and suddenly they’re in a situation with a total of six teams and dealing with two byes. No other sport has a different competition format from regular season to postseason, and gymnasts/coaches basically have to use one strategy all season long and then suddenly switch for postseason, which is just ludicrous. Teams will now be able to train for postseason all season long, and they’ll be able to carry momentum from start to finish. It’s a 9 billion percent better situation for pretty much every team competing.
Does anyone know what was happening with Bailie Key this season? Why is Peyton Ernst only competing beam?
I just don’t think she was ready, which was evident in her first time out. I don’t think she was injured, not badly enough to not be able to train anyway, but I think mentally and physically, after literally years out of the sport, it was hard for her to get back in that mindset. Hopefully being with the team this season and getting back into the swing of things was helpful for her mentally…and hopefully we’ll see her back next season.
As for Peyton, she had shoulder surgery and was out for a considerable amount of time. I think vault, bars, and floor all put pressure on her shoulder and make her unable to do much more than what she’s doing on beam. Hopefully as she continues to recover she’ll be able to make appearances elsewhere.
Is there anything about Alexa Moreno’s status?
Yup! She’s back at pretty much full difficulty, including her top vaults as well as a new double double on floor. She just placed third at nationals in Mexico last week, also finishing first on vault and third on beam, and should lead a rather young team at worlds this year.
In both Chinese and Japanese, names are said with the surname first. Do you know why in U.S. broadcasts we see Chinese names that way but then we say Japanese names the western way?
There are a ton of countries that will formally put the surname first, like Hungary and many Eastern European countries for example, but in broadcasting/news in general, they’re all westernized to put the surname last, except for China and the Koreas. I’m pretty sure this is dictated by the AP Stylebook (I’ve definitely looked up the Korean guidelines in there before), but I don’t know the AP’s reasoning behind keeping things one way for some countries and then westernizing for others.
It probably has something to do with how those countries prefer to be recognized internationally…with the Koreas, for example, both North and South Korea have names that are split up into three separate ‘words’ when transliterated, but in North Korea the government standard when transliterating is to write the names as three separate words, like Hong Un Jong, whereas in South Korea the standard for transliterating is to write them as two words, with the surname followed by the given name hyphenated with the letter after the hyphen written in lowercase, like Lee Eun-ju.
You listed the youngest seniors before, but who are the youngest U.S. juniors to have won the national title?
I only have the junior titles dating back to 1990, so in the past 28 years, the youngest U.S. junior to win the all-around title was Jennie Thompson, who had turned 12 a month prior to her win. Others who won at age 12 include Lanna Apisukh in 1992 and Dominique Moceanu in 1994, with both just about a month away from turning 13, and more recently, Kyla Ross was the second-youngest gymnast to win the title with her performance in 2009, and Jordyn Wieber was also 12 with her win in 2008. On the other side of things, the oldest junior national all-around champion was Natasha Kelley, who was 15 years and 5 months when she won in 2005, and the average age for junior national champions is 14.141. Here’s a full list of the past 28 champions from youngest to oldest.
Jennie Thompson, 12 years 1 month (1993)
Kyla Ross, 12 years 9.6 months (2009)
Dominique Moceanu, 12 years 10.8 months (1994)*
Jordyn Wieber, 12 years 10.8 months (2008)*
Lanna Apisukh, 12 years 11.1 months (1992)
Hilary Grivich, 13 years 1.5 months (1990)
Kristal Uzelac, 13 years 2 months (1999)
Mina Kim, 13 years 7 months (1995)
Nastia Liukin, 13 years 7.6 months (2003)
Kyla Ross, 13 years 9.5 months (2010)
Kristal Uzelac, 14 years 1 month (2000)
Rebecca Bross, 14 years 1.1 months (2007)
Anne Woynerowski, 14 years 3.1 months (1991)
Vanessa Atler, 14 years 3.6 months (1996)
Maile O’Keefe, 14 years 3.9 months (2016)
Katelyn Ohashi, 14 years 4.2 months (2011)
Bailie Key, 14 years 5 months (2013)
Carly Patterson, 14 years 6.1 months (2002)
Jazmyn Foberg, 14 years 6.6 months (2014)
Shawn Johnson, 14 years 6.9 months (2006)
Nastia Liukin, 14 years 7.1 months (2004)
Marline Stephens, 15 years 0.4 months (1997)
Kristal Uzelac, 15 years 1.4 months (2001)
Morgan White, 15 years 1.8 months (1998)
Laurie Hernandez, 15 years 2.1 months (2015)
Lexie Priessman, 15 years 4.4 months (2012)
Maile O’Keefe, 15 years 5.7 months (2017)
Natasha Kelley, 15 years 7.3 months (2005)
*Fun to note is that while Dominique and Jordyn are technically tied at 12 years and 10.8 months, when you break it down in terms of days, Dominique was one day younger than Jordyn for her win!
Why doesn’t the U.S. combine juniors and seniors to compete against each other at national competitions?
It’s likely to separate them the way they’d be separated internationally, which makes it easy to keep things clear in terms of ranking them, looking at them in terms of naming national teams and international squads for various meets, and so on. Logistically it’s just easier. Some countries do combine the levels and it doesn’t make a huge difference, but like, they’re going to be separated by level internationally so they might as well just follow that as closely as possible domestically.
In NCAA, why do gymnasts stand on the low bar to transition to the high bar? Does this affect their score?
They’re not required to make a low-to-high transition. Some will do a low-to-high transition to count as their release (a Maloney or van Leeuwen or something counts as a release the same way a same-bar release counts as one), but most who start their routine on the high bar and perform a Tkachev or Jaeger as their release will get their required high-to-low transition out of the way, and then just jump to the high bar since it doesn’t affect their score. I personally think at the bare minimum they should be required to do a toe shoot or something at that level, but hey.
Can girls not from the top NCAA teams still compete at nationals as individuals if they are at the top of a specific event?
There’s no ‘individual’ competition like that at NCAAs, only the two team competitions with the team preliminary competition serving as the individual final. Anyone on a full team at nationals who wants to win an individual title in the all-around or on an event has to perform that event as part of the team’s competition. In D3, gymnasts qualify to nationals on events based on their regionals finish, so conceivably someone could qualify to the bars final from regionals and then not compete bars in the team event, but for the main NCAA Championships, this isn’t how things work.
What happened with Verona van de Leur after her retirement?
She went down an unusual kind of path, sadly, I think in the need to make money. It can be hard to transition from being a professional athlete (or actor or musician or dancer or anyone in a performance kind of job) into having to live in the ‘real world,’ and I think she struggled with what to do post-gymnastics in addition to having a kind of problematic home life, so after her retirement in 2008, she began doing kind of shady stuff to make money. In 2011, she was convicted of blackmailing after trying to extort money from an adulterous couple she had been following around, and she went to prison for about three months, and she also had child pornography on her computer and an illegal weapon in her car. After getting out of prison she began doing webcam ‘performances’ as well as pornographic films, and after a five-second glimpse at her twitter, it seems she incorporates her gymnastics leos and routine poses in her ‘art’ which is kind of upsetting given everything that’s happening with sexual abuse in sports right now. No judgment for what she wants to do with her life, but there are enough pervs out there linking gymnastics to sex, so it’s a bummer to see a former gymnast pushing that out there even more (and making money off of it).
How is a gymnast able to compete for one country but participate in another country’s nationals? I’m thinking about Danusia Francis specifically…I thought she was repping Jamaica, but she lives and trains in Great Britain?
Many countries that have gymnasts who train there but compete elsewhere will allow those gymnasts to still compete at nationals, though their results obviously wouldn’t count toward any future team selection or anything (unless they end up blowing everyone else out of the water, in which case that federation would probably be like yoooo come back to us please). They’re actually not even ranked at nationals, so if someone scores high enough to place third, her result would be skipped over and the next highest-ranking gymnast actually representing Great Britain would get the bronze. At British Championships this year, there were several others who train in GB but compete elsewhere in addition to Danusia…Chiara Bunce (Slovakia), Yoana Yankova (Bulgaria), Jessica Castles (Sweden), Emmeline Anghileri (Ireland), and Nicole Coman (Romania).
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
This post was made possible thanks to our amazing patrons who help us fund things like travel and video production as we work to grow the site. This month’s patrons: April, Daniel Bertolina, Emily Bischoff, Dodi Blumstein, Wendy Bruce, Katie Burrows, Kelly Byrd, Melissa Carwin, Jillian Cohen, Brittany Cook, Kat Cornetta, Kristyn Cozier, Anita Gjerde Davidsen, Holly Glymour, Hydrick Harden, Lauren Haslett, Inaya, Lauren Jade, Alexis Johnston, Katrina, Sarah Keegan, Ishita Kent, Alyssa King, Jenny Kreiss, Maria Layton, Rae Lemke Sprung, Leigh Linden, Annabelle McCombe, Stephanie McNemar, Bridget McNulty, Cindy McWilliams, M. Melcher, Alison Melko, Emily Minehart, Eyleen Mund, Rachel Myers, Melanie Oechsner, Jessica Olaiya, David F. Pendrys, Lauren Pickens, Cordelia Price, Abbey Richards, Christine Robins, Kaitlyn Schaefer, Lisa Schmidt, Brian Schwegman, Sam Smart, Stephanie, Karen Steward, Lucia Tang, Tipse_ee, Rachel Walsh, Laura Williams, and Jenny Zaidi. THANK YOU!
Want to help out and qualify for super fun rewards for as little as $1/month? Check us out on Patreon!