Natalie Hannah Brown
It’s time for the 227th edition of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered! We apologize if we haven’t gotten to your question yet, but we try to answer in the order in which they were received (unless they are super relevant and need to be answered in a timely manner). Something you want to know? Ask us anonymously by going through the contact form at the bottom of the page.
Why was Natalie Brown given a one-year scholarship midway through her time at Oklahoma but not the other years?
She didn’t come to Oklahoma as a scholarship gymnast, but rather as a walk-on. Walk-ons don’t receive scholarships, but often when walk-ons become major contributors for the team, they can earn scholarships as they become available. Sometimes if a team has five freshman spots open, if one of their more productive walk-ons is turning junior or senior and is ‘deserving’ of a scholarship, the team might just bring in four freshmen and then give the remaining scholarship to a walk-on. Natalie ended up being a huge contributor to the team, both in terms of scores and in terms of being one of the most supportive teammates, and they felt that was more than worth a scholarship.
Grace McLaughlin scored a 9.9 on floor the week before senior day. Why did she only exhibition on senior night? Why wasn’t she also honored with the other seniors in the post-meet press conference?
I don’t know what her deal was this season, to be honest? Maybe she was dealing with injury or something, or just not making lineups…I feel like I almost never saw her with the team and every time I saw a pic of her come across social media, she was with a sorority or something…so maybe she was just not making lineups and so started kind of phasing the program out knowing she was basically done? Like I don’t think she had a PROBLEM with the team or whatever and I do remember her posting about the seniors on senior night, and she traveled to nationals, but it just seemed like she had other stuff going on in the absence of not really being a big contributor to the team anymore which is great if she found that balance early.
Do you think Great Britain has a chance at being a threat internationally this year with so many injuries?
A threat, not really. On an individual level, for those who are still healthy and able to contribute, they’ll do okay, but as a team it’s going to be hard at Euros or worlds if Claudia Fragapane, Amy Tinkler, and Ellie Downie aren’t back. I have really enjoyed seeing some of the other girls step up this year in their absence, though, like Kelly Simm, Alice Kinsella, and Georgia-Mae Fenton, and I’d actually love if they could use this opportunity to get at least one of the super-talented Welsh kids on a major team.
I’ve seen comments about Courtney McCool ‘falling apart’ at the 2004 Olympics but I don’t remember any huge errors in her qualifiers. Am I forgetting something?
She didn’t really ‘fall apart.’ She just didn’t have the kind of scores they were expecting her to get as one of the top all-arounders in the country (to the point where Mohini Bhardwaj ended up beating her in the all-around qualification), and she didn’t have a top-three score on any event, which is why they took her out of the team final. She did have weaker-than-usual routines on beam and floor from what I can remember, and I think it was also just a case of judges at home giving her huge scores with the international judges just not really being super into her…kind of like Jordyn Wieber in 2012.
Shannon Miller is often left out in conversations about the best American gymnast ever produced. What do you think is the reason for her omission?
I don’t think she’s ever left out in these conversations and think people generally consider her one of the best? I’ve never heard people leaving her out, honestly. I mean, she was a member of two Olympic teams, the first U.S. gymnast to win Olympic gold on beam, a two-time world all-around champion, a world champion on every event but vault, and she’s the second-most decorated U.S. gymnast behind Simone Biles when looking at world and Olympic medal totals. There’d be literally no reason to leave her out of a ‘best American gymnasts’ list, unless like, your one piece of criteria for that list is that she wasn’t an Olympic all-around champion, but if that’s your reasoning, it shouldn’t be! The rest of her accolades speak for themselves.
What would you say is the ‘magic score’ for someone looking to challenge in the all-around internationally?
This year, to challenge for an all-around medal at worlds, I’d say around a 55-56 the way things have been going so far. It’ll be interesting to see if someone could breach 57 this year at a major international meet, especially with Simone Biles coming back, but the way things look right now, a 56 would put you in gold medal contention for sure.
Would you rather see a double layout that’s way over arched or one from Mayia Hambrick where it’s clean but piked?
Ugh it’s hard to decide lol. I guess arched in terms of getting it credited? At least when it’s arched you know they’ve reached the layout shape at some point in the air if they’ve gone past it, and so it wouldn’t be in danger of being downgraded…whereas if it’s piked, it runs the risk of the downgrade and shows that the gymnast can’t reach a perfectly stretched position. But aesthetically I’d rather see a slight pike than a huge arch. A slight pike would still be in the window of getting it credited and it looks a little better, I think.
Where did Peng Peng Lee train in Canada? Had she been healthy in London and hit her routines, could she have medaled?
Peng trained at Oakville Gymnastics in Ontario. I don’t know if she was a legit medal contender in London, but she would have at the very least been a top-five all-around threat if she hit and had her DTY. She probably could’ve contended for the beam final, which is where she’d be closest to being a threat for a medal, especially considering that other medal hopefuls had falls, but with the way things ended up turning out in the beam final, I think she would’ve needed the routine of a lifetime to get on the podium, and she definitely wouldn’t have beaten the Chinese…and doubt she would’ve beaten Aly Raisman or Catalina Ponor as well (even with Catalina’s mistakes, her D was way higher), but could see her slipping in for a close fifth behind that top group.
How do individual all-arounders and event specialists qualify to NCAA nationals?
They qualify through regionals. The top two all-arounders at each regional who aren’t part of qualifying teams qualify as all-arounders, and to qualify as event specialists, the gymnasts have to straight up win (or tie for the win) on that event.
Watching 2012 nationals, I realized Sarah Finnegan did really hard tumbling, but only did three passes. Is it better to do three hard passes than four that might be slightly easier?
For some, yeah, this can be a better strategy. If they struggle with endurance especially, it’s definitely easier to just get things over with in three passes. If you can do a couple of really difficult combo passes, and if you also have pretty difficult dance elements, a fourth pass wouldn’t be necessary to get you to the same D score as someone who has four passes but kind of ‘wastes’ two of them on like, two D elements like a double pike and a double tuck, which tend to be the most common passes to end on after opening with two more difficult passes at the beginning.
How do you think Danusia Francis’ ‘save’ on floor at British Championships was scored?
Oh man, this is something I’ve tried to wrap my head around but don’t know if I can, haha. They definitely didn’t give her a fall, but would have deducted for a really low/squatted landing, and then also would’ve taken a ton of deductions on the form in the back handspring, because her legs were bent and almost fully apart in a split at one point, and she landed it basically on her elbows/head with her legs in a straddle. She would’ve gotten 0.1 in CV for the double pike to immediate back handspring, but not really worth it obviously when you consider the hella deductions from how the double pike was landed and how the back handspring looked.
When I calculate the D score for Elisabeth Seitz’s beam at American Cup this year, I get a 5.2 but she was only credited with a 4.7. I theorize that she was not credited with the CR of having two connected dance skills, one with at least a 180-degree split. Do you think this is correct?
If they ended up not crediting her a 180 split on either of her leaps in her series that would be cruel as she hit 180 on both! I actually got to a 5.3 D if she had absolutely everything credited as she intended to do it, but I could see one issue being the layout getting downgraded to a pike which would take away the 0.1 CV in addition to the skill value from the two-foot layout, bringing her to a 5.0…but beyond that I don’t know what they would’ve taken away from her so it must have been a missing CR, and the not hitting 180 seems most accurate? In real time I could see how the judges would see that she didn’t hit 180 on either of her splits even though she did. So she probably lost that CR and then I’m sure there was something that was not credited with her layout series, though maybe just not as severe as calling it a back pike.
What is the difference between a sissone, split jump, and split leap?
Well to start off, a jump takes off from two feet and a leap takes off from one foot. A sissone is a jump where the legs do a split 180 degrees in the air but at an angle where the front leg is lower than the back leg. A split jump is also a jump where the legs reach a 180 degree split, but the legs are parallel to the beam or floor. A split leap is a leap where the gymnast takes off from one foot with the opposite leg going forward and then the “take-off” foot going back so that the legs reach a 180 degree spit in the air, like a split jump aside from that little ‘travel’ step into the leap. A good way to tell the difference if you’re still not sure is to know that jumps usually don’t travel whereas leaps do…on floor, especially, though on beam, you can see that gymnasts will often take a little baby run into a split leap or switch leap.
Do NCAA gymnasts get to keep their leotards when they graduate or are they retired?
I believe they usually keep one or two as momentos but I’m not sure what they do with the rest…I feel like it’d be weird to recycle someone’s leo for someone else so I doubt that happens, but you never know, especially for smaller programs that might want to get as much wear out of them as possible.
Why don’t people like Al Trautwig? Why didn’t people like Elfi Schlegel?
I think the issue most people had with Al is that he would tend to talk in a condescending way about the gymnasts, in that “little girl” kind of way that is super inappropriate because even though they might look like “little girls,” they’re actually world-class athletes just like the top football, baseball, and basketball players in the country. He would also often make rude remarks about international gymnasts, and then I think the thing that got everyone super pissed off was when he refused to refer to Simone Biles’ parents as “her parents” because she was adopted.
As for Elfi, I never really minded her…I think she was kind of considered “dumb” about the sport or something in the way people talk about Tim Daggett, but what people don’t realize is that they’re not actually dumb people and they’re both really intelligent about gymnastics (and in general). But for broadcasts, they’re basically told to dumb down the commentary so any average Joe tuning in would understand.
It sucks for them because every other sport assumes people are intelligent humans who will eventually pick up on what’s going on and don’t need color-coded systems or constant reminders about how the beam is only 4 inches wide or how the “new” aka 12-year-old code works. Can you imagine watching a baseball broadcast and hearing the announcers being like “can you believe it, the pitcher has to throw the ball SIXTY FEET to the batter!!” every single day? Both Elfi and Tim are actually super knowledgeable about the sport and do hella research, but it’s hard to be anything but infantilizing when you’re told that these broadcasts aren’t for fans but rather for people who have probably never watched the sport before. I love that the SEC and Pac 12 networks don’t dumb it down at all…they do a lot of explaining the same things every week, but never in a way that’s dumbed down, and I can guarantee you that if Tim and Elfi had that freedom, they’d come off a lot better.
What happens if you step out-of-bounds with one foot and the foot that’s still in-bounds lifts off the ground slightly? Would that be counted as a one-foot or two-foot penalty?
It would just be counted as a one-foot penalty if the second foot never actually leaves the space. Even if it’s off the ground, the foot itself is still within the floor boundaries.
How come female gymnasts haven’t been able to perform triples or quads on any event yet? Is it because of the physical differences between males and females?
Female gymnasts do triples on floor all the time, and a few have attempted quads in competition. Also, several gymnasts have trained Yurchenko triples on vault, and Hong Un Jong attempted to compete one at the Olympics in 2016. In general, the majority of women aren’t going to be able to do skills as advanced as the men can do, so while there are some women who are able to push the boundaries, a greater number of men will be able to, and that’s why triples are basically a staple last pass for them on floor whereas for women, a triple is like a big opening or second pass for stronger floor workers. But on both vault and floor, I can guarantee that there is at least one woman who can throw the most difficult skills the men are doing…with the exception of a few vaults, like the Shirai II, the Yurchenko or tsuk double backs, and the more difficult front handspring vaults, like the double pike and the Dragulescu.
If Simone Biles had been age-eligible in 2012, would she have made the Olympic team?
With the skills she had in 2012, no, but mostly because she wasn’t planning on making that team and so what we saw from her in 2012 wouldn’t have been what she showed if she knew she was eligible and showed up in 2012 making a legitimate run for the team. I think if she had been planning for years to make the 2012 team, she would’ve absolutely been in the running, possibly in an all-around spot but at that age, probably more realistically the vault/floor specialist role. I think she definitely would’ve threatened either Aly Raisman or McKayla Maroney based on Olympic Trials.
Is Liang Chow currently coaching the Chinese team? Why did Chinese national team girls train at his gym this year?
Yes, he’s currently leading the Chinese national program. As for having Chinese girls training at Chow’s, often gyms in the U.S. will form connections with other national programs to do exchanges, and since he obviously had his foot in the door in China, he offered to host a group of their gymnasts to help them out a bit so they could get ideas for training and drills based on what the U.S. girls were doing. They were basically shocked at how much leg work the Americans do! And it was a cool experience for them in general. I know other Chinese teams in the past have trained at gyms like WOGA and Everest, CGA tends to host a lot of international teams…it’s a fun way for the U.S. to kind of share what they know to make other programs even stronger, which is awesome.
How can someone become more flexible?
I mean, the simple answer? STRETCH! 😉 For real, it works. Not everyone is going to be as flexible as some of the most flexible people out there, so stretching every day might not get you to 220 degree oversplits, especially if you’re muscular…people who have really bulky muscles tend to not be as flexible and so gymnasts who struggle with this end up relying more on their strength to get splits in jumps on floor more than their flexibility. From personal experience, I know no matter how much stretching I do, I will never get closer than like six inches away from my middle splits, I’ve tried since I was a child and I know it’s just not happening lol…but I can lose my right and left splits after lazy periods and then stretch for a few days to get them back.
What is the element called that Ivana Hong did on bars at the 2007 U.S. Championships?
I believe the skill you’re talking about was her Steinemann circle? Most people refer to this and skills like it as German giants, which are super rare and require great shoulder flexibility…the Gym Max coaches are actually amazing at teaching German giants; they’ve had some J.O. gymnasts doing them, and Laney Madsen also has them in her elite routine! Ivana’s were crazy because she did them right into a Tkachev…granted, it was a butt-grazer of a Tkachev, but she always managed to get it over the bar!
If U.S. gymnasts can get money for being on the national team but remain eligible for NCAA gymnastics, why can’t international gymnasts also remain eligible when accepting salaries?
It’s technically a stipend to cover training costs for the U.S. gymnasts, whereas for international gymnasts, it’s an actual salary for a job they’re doing. The international gymnasts generally have their training covered by the government, and their salary pays for their lifestyle the way any job would, but the U.S. gymnasts get a small stipend each month that goes to training costs. They’re not getting paid to train and do gymnastics…they’re just having their training paid for by USAG and the USOC.
Is it possible for judges to earn a living purely by judging in the U.S.? Or do they supplement this with other work?
No. Judges, especially at higher levels and NCAA, can make a good chunk of cash on the weekends during the busy season, but none of them are professional judges who ONLY judge. A good majority are coaches or gym owners, but others have regular jobs and just judge for fun on the weekends, maybe because they were former gymnasts and want to stay involved without being full-time coaches, or maybe because they just happen to love the sport and decided to become judges to help expand their knowledge.
Why do you think we’ve never seen a woman attempt a Deferr (jump forward with half twist to double salto backwards) and what do you think it’d be rated in the women’s code?
Ooh, it’s like the opposite of an arabian double front! I’ve always wanted to see someone do this and didn’t realize it had been done in MAG until just now, so that’s exciting. I think front skills in general tend to be daunting for most women because you can’t build the momentum the way you can with backward skills, so this ultimately ends up having to be done out of a punch or a front handspring, which makes it super hard to generate enough power to actually get it around…but I think a great front tumbler like Brooklyn Moors or Brenna Dowell could do this. I’d guess it’d be an E or an F…probably an E, because the double back aspect makes it a little easier than something like a Podkopayeva, which is an F.
Are developmental camps still taking place given USAG’s current status?
Yes, not as often, but they’re under the direction of Tom Forster at the moment, who I think is one of the people who put forth an application for the national team coordinator role. He has been around the national program forever, and has a great rapport with many of the younger juniors and devo girls, and it’d be interesting to see if they just leave him in a devo role or bump him up to NTC and have him run both programs the way Valeri Liukin was doing before he left.
What’s your opinion on Giulia Steingruber’s floor choreography?
I don’t LOVE it, but I’ve never thought anything bad about it…for me, it’s one of those routines that’s just kind of THERE with nothing that stands out at either end of the spectrum.
Georgia-Mae Fenton was credited with a D score of 5.8 at English Championships. When I calculate the score, I get 6.1 and can’t identify where I’ve gone astray. Could you help me figure that out?
Here’s what I got…
Derwael-Fenton (F) + Ezhova (D) = 0.2 CV
Maloney (D) + clear hip (C) + Ricna (E) + bail (D) + toe full (D) = 0.3 CV
Toe shoot (B)
FEDDDDDC = 3.4
CV = 0.2 + 0.3 = 0.5
CR = 2.0
Total = 5.9
I’m not sure where they would’ve gotten a 5.8 honestly…I thought this routine was pretty straightforward? I just checked and she got a 5.9 for the same routine at worlds and in both of her Commonwealth Games routines…maybe they thought the Ricna was like, just a Tkachev or something? I honestly don’t know.
Do you think gym fans are much harder on Americans than they are on other countries? I’m thinking of Viktoria Komova, and how she competed a watered-down bars set with no inbars in her first meet back this season, with everyone responding about how amazing it was. Meanwhile, contrast that with Ashton Locklear, who also didn’t have inbars and people flipped out about her making the worlds team even though she had a vastly better performance than Viktoria did in terms of execution.
Yeah, for sure. I found that very funny…Ashton got so much crap for not coming back at full strength after multiple injuries, though her skills were flawless which is why she was able to make the worlds uneven bars final with a 5.5 D score, and Vika came back with a literal weaker routine skill-wise and messier form and people were asking if she’d win the Olympic gold this time around. I mean…huh? It’s just bizarre. I get why people might personally like one gymnast more than another, and I mean, like whoever you want, I don’t care…but it’s pretty clear when your bias shows and this was the most hypocritical instance in that case. Both Ashton and Vika are working through years of being injured and trying to fight back from those injuries, and they both should be treated with the respect that they deserve for trying to keep going in a very difficult sport.
Had there been a team final in Montreal, do you think the U.S. (counting Ragan Smith) would have won? Which other countries would have placed well?
Yeah. I put together the scores for this for fun (using a few average scores from gymnasts who were alternates or close seconds to making the team just to have that fifth person) and the U.S. was a bit ahead, and Japan was second! I think it was hard to gauge with Russia and China because they didn’t have full sets of routines there (like, China only had one girl doing the all-around with the rest doing one event apiece, and Russia only had two all-arounders and two one-eventers), but overall Japan did look stronger than those two countries at that moment in time in terms of having a complete and healthy team, which is super cool to know that they could’ve broken in…and Germany also looked really strong as a team. Obviously had this been a team year China and Russia would’ve planned better to have more complete gymnasts and programs, but I definitely think Japan could have easily challenged both of those teams for the silver.
What do you think about the new top gym in Ghent? Will other gyms start to use the camera system they have? Will it help the Belgian team get better?
It looks awesome! Kind of like what the bigger collegiate gyms are like in the U.S. in terms of having great tech to go along with the nice facilities. Many gyms use camera systems to help with skills so gymnasts and coaches can better see what’s going wrong and what they’d need to do to fix things, and yes, it definitely helps gymnasts improve and could definitely help the Belgians.
Has any NCAA women’s team ever scored a 199? What’s the record?
I don’t think a team has ever scored a 199…the closest is probably a 198.875, which both UCLA and Stanford reached in 2004.
What’s going on with Seda Tutkhalyan? Is she injured? Taking a break? Retired? Blacklisted?
She has been injured and unable to train at a high level. She’s on the reserve team right now, which isn’t the main national team, and she competed at nationals in April on every event but floor, but at a much lower level than we’re used to seeing her…and she also had mistakes, so it just wasn’t a great meet for her. I’d like to see her get back to a solid level, but don’t think she’ll be making any major teams anytime soon. She has a LOT of work to do, basically.
Do you think other countries might actually catch the U.S. in the team competition this quad?
I think it’ll get closer for sure, but I don’t see any other program that has a team picture as complete as the U.S. yet. When I talk about a complete program, I mean a team that could have injuries and bring in athletes to replace the injured athletes who would more or less put up the same level of performance. Most teams without their top 1-3 athletes would be screwed, to say the least. The U.S. could still show up to a major meet without its absolute strongest team and still have a strong shot at winning, and because most teams usually have at least something happening injury-wise to limit their total potential, the U.S. is still finding it easy to top the charts even if they’re also not at full health, thanks to that depth.
I think a good illustration of this was the DTB Team Challenge this year, where Belgium sent an A team up against B teams from Japan, Germany, and Russia…and easily beat them. Belgium was 12th at the Olympics in 2016, and the A teams from these three countries could have mistakes and still easily beat the Belgians…but when you take out the top Russian, Japanese, and German contenders and replace them with girls who are either lower level A team or top B team competitors, the Belgian A team comes out stronger.
All three of these programs, as well as China and Great Britain, need more depth and stronger B teams if they want a shot at catching the U.S., basically. I think Russia could get close to the U.S. if every single athlete is healthy and hits every single routine, but because we know that’s a rare unicorn of circumstances, it’s probably not going to happen, while the U.S. meanwhile will continue to be able to make it through injuries and mistakes because they have the depth to back them up.
Do you think Madison Kocian could return to elite for the 2020 Olympics?
I think with Madison, she’d have to decide if she’d want to take a hiatus from her 2020 season in NCAA, and that doesn’t seem to be something she wants to do…which would mean she’d only have a couple of months to get back her elite level of skills after not doing elite routines for four years. I won’t say it’s impossible, but…it’s not likely to happen, unless she’s simultaneously training her elite routines in her spare time while doing NCAA.
What would have happened if Elena Mukhina had never been injured and attended the 1980 Olympics?
I mean, it’s impossible for me to say, isn’t it? She could’ve hit everything and been amazing and won medals or she could’ve not been as great as they were expecting her to be and not medaled. Given that these Olympics were held in Moscow, the odds were in her favor and hopefully she would’ve performed as expected, but I don’t understand these hypothetical questions or how you want me to answer them…like? She could’ve been great? Is that the answer you want? Like I can’t tell you “she would’ve stuck every pass on floor and gotten a 10!” hahaha. She probably would’ve done well? But she also could’ve fallen 10 times.
Why does it seem common that gymnasts switch gyms and coaches after an injury?
I don’t know why that seems common…I don’t think it really is? Usually it’s not an injury that makes gymnasts want to switch gyms but rather their parents feeling like they’re not doing as well as they could be at one gym and thinking that a gym change will make the difference. Usually when a gymnast wants to move, it’s more for the mental change of pace than any injury. Like Nia Dennis in 2015 felt like she wasn’t getting the support she needed after routines with falls which would lead to MORE falls, and so for her it was important to make the switch to a coach who would give her what she needed to get her back on track…and it was similar for Deanne Soza moving gyms after feeling like she was under too much pressure at her original gym (hearing her talk about the change in her mental love for the sport from one gym to the other was like the most emotional I’ve ever been in an interview setting before). For some, injuries might coincide with them learning that their frustrations with their old gyms weren’t going to change and so it makes sense as a time to make the change (like Lexie Priessman leaving CGA), but I don’t think an injury is ever the sole reason for making a change, unless they feel the coach was somehow directly responsible for the injury, which is rare.
At the DTB competition, Anastasia Iliankova did a couple of swings with half turns before she hopped off. They weren’t in handstand, so does she get deducted for all of them, or do they all count as ‘trying to avoid a fall’ and come with only one deduction?
She’d get deducted for all of them…that “trying to avoid a fall” thing is more on beam, but on bars from my understanding, judges will deduct for any attempt at a skill. I could see when things get really crazy on bars, judges might just take one 0.3 or 0.5 deduction or something and then if they do end up hopping off, they’ll also take the fall, so they might not being like “0.1 off for THAT mess, 0.1 for THAT mess, 0.1 for THAT mess” over and over…but they’d definitely take off for that lack of control and loss of rhythm in the swings.
How do inquiries work in NCAA? Are they as formal as they are at FIG meets?
They’re definitely formal in NCAA. They have an inquiry form that coaches have to submit to the judges before the next event, and they can only be about start value, compositional requirements, and clarification of neutral deductions or falls/unusual performance occurrences…meaning they can’t be like “I don’t like that my gymnast only got a 9.8!!!” and demand a look at deductions they took off for execution. There’s no monetary payment to the judges the way there is for an inquiry in an FIG setting, but it’s still done ‘officially’ through forms and it’s only to debate the actual skills/connections shown, not the execution of the routine.
Do you think Olivia Dunne has peaked in terms of skill level? Could she potentially upgrade and contend for major U.S. teams?
No I don’t. I think she’s still going strong and I love watching her skill videos…she seems to have a lot under her belt that we haven’t seen in competition, and even if she doesn’t end up adding some of them into her competitive routines for whatever reason, they still look great in training! Bars especially. I don’t think skill level or peak is something that’s an issue for her, but rather just making things look as good in competition as they do otherwise…like her leaps are GORGEOUS but sometimes in competition she ends up making them a bit tentative, especially on beam, and I’m always dying because I KNOW she can do them better. Anyway, I love watching her, I love her upgrades, I don’t think she’ll be a top contender for a worlds team this year but hopefully she at least has a great nationals and makes the national team.
Since traveling to Australia as the Melbourne World Cup ambassador, Aly Raisman hasn’t been doing too many interviews or appearances. Do you think she has resumed training for 2020? Won’t it be too late for her to return if she doesn’t come back soon?
I don’t think she’ll be returning for 2020. She seemed like she was still considering it at the start of the year, but around the time of Larry Nassar’s sentencing, she seemed to just be so over USAG and the whole situation that she started changing her tune from “absolutely coming back” to “there are things more important than gymnastics.” I wonder if because she’s been so outspoken against USAG she feels that it would just be too awkward now to be in that situation, going to camps again, and dealing with many of the same people she felt led to her abuse? I was super excited for her to return but at this point it just probably isn’t going to happen.
When are tickets available for world championships? How much will they cost? Can you give me prices for Doha?
It’s different for every organizer…some make them available more than a year in advance and others wait until the last minute. Nanning took forever to open up, and that’s how it’s looking for Doha as well, so I’m not sure when they’ll be released or how much they’ll be. They’re likely to be less expensive than they were for Montreal and Glasgow, but it’s impossible to know right now when they haven’t released anything.
What is covered for scholarship gymnasts compared to walk-ons? Do walk-ons pay for everything (hotels, travel expenses for competitions, leos)? Or is it tuition-based? Is their student housing covered?
The only thing they don’t have covered is tuition and housing. Everything the scholarship athletes get on the team is covered for walk-ons.
Why do gymnasts sometimes wear white socks or tumbling shoes? Wouldn’t it be better to use a color closer to their skin tone so unpointed toes are less obvious?
Yeah, I prefer skin-colored slippers and socks as well, and I think aesthetically, so do most coaches and judges, which is why many teams will make sure their slippers or tiger paws for turns match their skin tone…I get that the brand of beam shoes (and vault shoes) that some girls like to wear only makes that white shoe with the red on it, but some gymnasts, like the Chinese girls, will wear legit regular white socks on floor and I’m always like why are you doing this to me?
Is Elena Arenas competing level 10 or is she still elite?
She is competing level 10 now and preparing for NCAA. This season she competed level 10 and finished 12th at nationals, and she has two more J.O. seasons ahead of her before she goes to LSU.
Why does the third seed in each region host the NCAA regionals? It seems they would want to host at the top program in each regional in order to give the team a home floor advantage.
It’s not the third seed in each region, it just happened to work out that way for some regionals this year. The regional sites are determined sometimes years in advance (right now, regional sites are set through 2022 for women’s gymnastics). Sometimes regionals will be at a top seed school and other times they’ll be at a bottom seed, or, like this year, they’ll be somewhere in the middle.
I know D scores decreased by about 0.5 when requirements were removed from the CR, but I can no longer tell what kind of score is a ‘good’ score. What are good scores this quad? What’s a good score right now compared to worlds? By how many points can a gymnast typically improve over the course of a season?
Follow along with the top scores list for the women and men to see what the benchmark scores are so far this year in the all-around and on each event. That’s the best way to kind of gauge what good scores are going to be as the kinks within the code of points are still being worked out. After they made the code changes, everyone kind of took 2 points off of the benchmarks for last quad, and so we kind of all said that a 58 would be a great score for WAG, but then there was so much going on beyond just those 0.5 CRs disappearing…beam judging is nuts now, almost no one has high difficulty on floor, bars difficulty is through the roof…based on what we saw last year and early this year, a 57 would be excellent, with the top FIG-meet scores maxing out around a mid 56. I think once someone like Simone Biles gets back in top form, a 58 wouldn’t be unheard of, and she could possibly go even higher…but it’s impossible to say how judges will appreciate her beam, which is tending to be the killer right now.
Does the stuff some female athletes do as they get in position for floor affect the scoring? Is that judged at all? Why do they do it?
No, they’re not judged until the timer starts. Most just want to convey the theme of their floor or a certain aesthetic before actually starting their routine because it helps them kind of set the tone for themselves, but they’re not judged on how they walk out onto the floor or how they leave it.
Why isn’t the U.S. sending gymnasts to apparatus world cups when it’s going to become a qualifier for the Olympics? Wouldn’t any top 12 finishes in 2018 and going forward start counting for qualifying a spot?
The apparatus world cup qualification process doesn’t start until Cottbus 2018, which isn’t until the end of this year. Furthermore, only the series winners — a total of four spots for women and six spots for men — will win spots to the Games from the apparatus world cups, making it the biggest crap shoot for a spot. It’s easier and more straightforward for the U.S. to earn two individual spots through the continental championships and the all-around world cups. Most of the larger countries who qualify to the all-around world cups will opt to attempt to qualify this way as opposed to through the apparatus world cups, which are going to be more for specialists who have no other way of getting in and want to guarantee a nominative spot…like Krisztian Berki on pommels.
Is there a connection value when someone does a C jump or leap and then a C acro? Like a switch leap to back tuck or split jump half to back tuck?
On beam, the only mixed series that get CV are D (salto) + B (dance) or D+D (or more), so a C dance element and a C acro wouldn’t be worth anything…but if they did a mixed series with three skills at B + B + C or higher, they could get a 0.1 series bonus…so a switch to back tuck to split jump could get 0.1 in bonus.
Do you know what happened to Maggie Musselman? Is there any chance she’ll do college gymnastics?
I believe she had an illness that forced her to retire from the sport, so unfortunately no college gym for her.
If Tabea Alt were able to do her bars transition to handstand, could the difficulty value be re-evaluated? Or would it have to be submitted as a new skill?
It would have to be submitted as a new skill…the difference would be like what we see now with the shootover. A shootover is an easy skill, but a shootover to handstand — what we often refer to as a bail — is a D in elite. If she could do her transition to handstand, we’d have the Alt I and then the Alt III, with the Alt III basically being the Alt to handstand.
Is there a deduction when a gymnast rocks backwards onto one foot after a layout stepout?
Not for that specifically, but they’d probably take off a tenth for a lack of control on the landing.
So the top four British women are now injured. Is there anything about a coaching program or way a country trains its gymnasts that makes them more likely to get injured?
Considering the British women all train at different clubs, it’s more just about them all happening to be coincidentally injured at the same time than about anything their national program is doing wrong. Considering it’s a lot of knee and ankle and Achilles stuff, they’d probably benefit from some tougher lower leg strengthening, but injuries happen in gymnastics, unfortunately, and whether they all train at the same club or at a different one, they’re not going to be protected from landing wrong.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins
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