It’s time for the 232nd 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.
Is Simone Biles going to be competing this year? Do you think she’ll have upgrades or be at her 2016 form?
Yup! She makes her comeback at the U.S. Classic tomorrow, and YES…there are upgrades! She’ll have a Fabrichnova on bars, a punch front pike on beam, and a Moors and front full through to full-in on floor. She looked great in podium training this morning and I’m so excited to see how she looks back in a competitive setting.
Are you excited for Simone Biles’ return to elite? What routine are you most excited to see?
I’m super excited! I’m actually most excited to see her start using her Cheng as her main vault…when she did it in Rio, I specifically remember tweeting that when she comes back to elite, her Cheng has to be her number one with her Amanar being pushed back to number two…it just started looking so good the more time she spent competing it, and it definitely began to outperform her Amanar so I’m so so so excited this will be her all-around vault now. I’m also so excited to see how she does on floor with a double double as her last pass.
Based on what you’ve seen from her in the past, what scoring range do you think Simone Biles will reach when she returns to competition? Could she reach a 58 all-around? What about on each event?
I think knowing what we know about her difficulty, she will probably eventually surpass a 58 and probably even eventually get close to a 59, assuming her execution looks similar to how we remember her in 2016. Her Cheng could potentially score around a 15.5, which is just insane for this quad, she could realistically get around a 14.5-15 on bars depending on what she connects, we’ll say around a 13.8-14.2 range for beam right now if judging was like it was at worlds last year (though I’d imagine she could go higher), and then floor can probably easily get to around a 14.8 and eventually surpass a 15. Even at the lower or more conservative range of what she’s capable of, a 58 will be more than realistic for her on a good day!
What do you think contributes to Riley McCusker’s past injuries? Is she just too fragile for elite? Glad to hear she’s back for the U.S. Classic.
I think a lot of it is probably just that she seems pretty breakable? Like there are just some girls out there who are more prone to injuries for whatever reason…like Aly Raisman was sturdy and I saw her land her punch front on her head and land her Amanar lock-legged and walk away 100% fine, but Riley McCusker with either of those landings would probably be out for six months max with multiple injuries, no joke. I don’t think that means she’s too fragile for elite…she’d probably get similar injuries in J.O. or even just like, walking around lol. IT HAPPENS. But I think ramping up her skill level for elite definitely doesn’t help things…like, the more you risk, the more likely you’ll be to run into trouble.
Is Lilia Akhaimova injured? Does she still have a chance to make Euros or worlds?
She was dealing with ankle injuries but seems to have done well at camp and was named to the Euros team!
Do you think Italy could win gold ahead of the Russian team in the junior competition at Euros? What about the all-around?
I think they could, but beam really holds them back (as does floor, though not as bad) and makes me a bit nervous…the Russians have some great beam and floor workers on the junior team, so I think they can definitely get an edge there that the Italians just don’t have. Last summer I was fingers-crossed hoping that the Italians would overtake the Russians at EYOF, and I was a little bummed that they got SO close but weren’t quite able to take them down…and I think it’ll be the same case this year, where they’ll be close but might not make it happen if the Russians have a good day. They’d really have to rely on mistakes from the Russians.
Is Lucy Stanhope training a second vault? It seems strange she isn’t going for individual medals there as Great Britain’s strongest vaulter.
Not that I know of…but I agree! Either way, that vault adds so much to the team total, so I love that she’s made herself worth taking for just one event JUST for the team that she can’t even have a shot at medaling on individually.
Is Latalia Bevan not trialing for the Great Britain European squad?
No, she ended up not going to trials…not sure why; with their lack of depth I was quite surprised to not see her there but it could be that she had some time off from training after the Commonwealth Games and wasn’t quite ready or had injuries she was rehabbing or something. I hope she ends up being part of the worlds trials!
Do you think Jade Carey will upgrade her front tumbling pass?
I think it’s fine as-is…like, it’s not mandatory for her to upgrade it, and a front double full to stag is far more difficult than most of the front tumbling we see from girls who usually only back tumble…but as a fan of the Randi, I’d love to see her add one…and I also wouldn’t be mad if she felt like doing a front triple.
Before Simone Biles found a new coach you said she didn’t need a super hands-on coach, just someone to push her. After seeing the video of her and Laurent Landi, would you say it’s about what you expected or do you think he’s more involved than what you predicted?
Well, I didn’t really ‘predict’ that she’d have a coach who wasn’t hands-on…I was just saying that she’s so solid in her skills and knows the ropes well enough that she’d basically be able to coach herself, so she could really get by with anyone there just to act as a motivator. For many adult gymnasts who have trained for years, this is the case…like Oksana Chusovitina consults with various coaches but more or less coaches herself (she often doesn’t travel with a coach and will have other gymnasts/coaches help her out with spotting and stuff like that) and Houry Gebeshian self-trained for a good deal of her time going into Rio, though she also had coaches and people she’d talk to and have help her out. For Simone, something like this would absolutely be possible, but I 100% didn’t think they’d just find her a random motivator to help her out in a low-key way, lol. She was clearly going to get a top gymnastics coach, and that’s exactly what she got. I think Aimee Boorman had a great balance with her where she was actively coaching, but then also knew when to let Simone do her own thing, and that’s kind of what I see and assume is the case with Laurent. Like, she (and most gymnasts of her level) can go to beam and work through ten routines on her own without a baby-sitter, but then the coach is there checking in and giving corrections on a more low-key basis.
What’s the difference between the American Classic, the U.S. Classic, and the U.S. Championships (the one in July) and the other U.S. Championships (the one in August)? Why are the names so confusing? Which is the biggest meet? Is the U.S. Classic more important than the American Classic?
The American Classic and the U.S. Classic both serve as the final qualifying meets for gymnasts who haven’t yet qualified to nationals.
Neither is officially more important than the other, though in the past the American Classic had always been held at the ranch with the U.S. Classic televised on a major stage, so pretty much no current elites would attend the American Classic (especially because there was generally a camp held the week prior so there was no need to attend it) whereas every elite would attend the U.S. Classic.
Now that both are large public meets, there’s really no difference in ‘importance’ but with the American Classic a few weeks earlier in the summer, gymnasts naturally won’t be as ready then as they will be for the U.S. Classic as they’ll have more time to prepare.
The U.S. Championships held in July is for all disciplines of the sport that aren’t artistic…so acro, rhythmic, tumbling and trampoline. And the U.S. Championships held in August are for artistic only, both men’s and women’s. The artistic U.S. Championships is the biggest meet in the domestic season for U.S. gymnasts.
Who else trains elite or level 10 at World Champions Centre alongside Simone Biles?
Ashton Locklear and Olivia Hollingsworth (senior elite), Karis German (junior elite), Riley Harris (hopes), and they had several level 10s this season…Paris Aiken, Bayley Barnett, Payton Harris, Mina Margraf, Zoe Miller, Danielle Press, and Sydney Razeghi.
If a gymnast gets her two-event score at the American Classic and again for two different events at the U.S. Classic, would they be allowed to compete all-around at nationals?
Interesting question…I would imagine technically, yes! If she qualifies vault and bars at the American Classic, she is allowed to compete those two events at nationals, and then if she qualifies beam and floor at the U.S. Classic, she is allowed to compete those two…which would technically make her an all-arounder even if she didn’t officially qualify as an all-arounder.
What’s going on with Deanne Soza? Did she peak too soon?
No, I really don’t think she actually ever even hit her peak because she was always dealing with mental focus issues that affected her consistency. She was doing more difficulty than she felt comfortable competing and she felt she was being pressured into doing a higher level, which freaked her out and made her unable to hit in competition, so when she moved gyms, her whole deal with Texas Dreams is that they just make it super no-pressure and low-key for her, which means lower difficulty that doesn’t really make her competitive, but it’s not really about that for her right now, it’s about being able to go out onto the competition floor and hit her routines without letting the nerves or pressure take her down. She was SO happy when I talked to her last year, it was like she was an entirely different person, and if that means she’s never going to be able to reach her absolute potential max difficulty, then that’s fine. She’s doing what she needs to be happy and healthy.
Why would Jade Carey stick to Oregon State now that she could get a scholarship anywhere?
She has more reasons for choosing Oregon State than “not getting a scholarship anywhere else.” She was two years into her level 10 career and was a J.O. national vault champion and bronze all-around medalist in 2016 with a 10.0 start value NCAA vault named after her in the J.O. code of points; if she wanted to go to a top-five program, she very likely would’ve had them all interested in her. But she chose Oregon State for reasons that are important to her, she signed her NLI to commit there, and there’s no way she’s going to change it now just because she’s a hotter commodity thanks to her elite success.
Why did Morgan Hurd wait to upgrade the composition of her bars when it brought her difficulty up so much? She only upgraded one skill.
Her composition involved a greater number of connections which can be just as difficult to manage as adding a new skill (or harder, actually, in some cases). It likely took time to get all of the connections squared away and competitively ready, and so she played it safe in her first year at the senior level and then rearranged everything after worlds. She may have only upgraded one lower letter value skill to a higher one, but the compositional changes she made were like adding three new skills.
What do you know about the person being considered for Rhonda Faehn’s position at USA Gymnastics? Mary Lee Tracy indicated that there is a clear choice that the ‘people’ want. Any ideas?
Mary Lee was talking about Valeri Liukin’s job, not Rhonda’s job. Based on what I heard from many coaches, Tom Forster was who pretty much everyone wanted, so my guess is that Mary Lee was also talking about Tom as being the ‘people’s choice’ especially given that he was the most involved with the national team compared to all of the other applicants. Rhonda’s job was more about the women’s program in its entirety, not just elite, so I’d guess they’re going to end up with someone who has been around the women’s program for a long period of time possibly on the J.O. side of things who already knows the ropes.
Which current U.S. juniors will be age-eligible for the 2020 Olympic Games?
Ciena Alipio, Annie Beard, Jordan Bowers, Sophia Butler, Claire Dean, Kayla DiCello, Amari Drayton, Addison Fatta, Aleah Finnegan, Delaney Fisher, eMjae Frazier, Gabbie Gallentine, Elizabeth Gantner, Karis German, Trista Goodman, Zoe Gravier, Olivia Greaves, Hannah Hagle, Maeve Hahn, Selena Harris, Alexis Jeffrey, Kaytlyn Johnson, Alonna Kratzer, Sunisa Lee, Lillian Lewis, Lilly Lippeatt, Lauren Little, Mallory Marcheli, Jay Jay Marshall, Sydney Morris, Brenna Neault, Lauren Pearl, Anya Pilgrim, Lyden Saltness, Abigail Scanlon, JaFree Scott, Ava Siegfeldt, Victoria Smirnov, Cally Swaney, Tori Tatum, Leanne Wong…
What is going on with Olivia Cimpian?
She was only a couple of months away from being eligible to represent Hungary internationally, just in time for worlds, after waiting for more than a year but it seems her parents were upset with something in Hungary (I’ve heard that it was her schoolwork or something silly) and they moved her back to Romania where she won’t be eligible to compete, at least not right away. Romania seems like they might accept her back, but they’re annoyed that she’s “using Deva like a revolving door” so I’d guess there’s going to be some kind of ‘punishment’ or contract that she’ll have to sign or something showing that she’s committed to the program and will stick with it if she ever wants to compete again. Really, though, it’s more about her parents messing up her situation than anything she’s responsible for.
How are execution scores this quad on beam different from the last quad scores? Why are the beam scores so much lower? Do you think Simone Biles will come back and get better execution scores than everyone else?
There were changes in the code that affected how beam is judged. Now they can really go on the attack for the quality of movement, and when gymnasts do any sort of little nervous tic or other adjustment, no matter how small, they deduct for these which brings scores down drastically because almost everyone is doing this…I’d say with the exception of like, Pauline Schäfer, Sanne Wevers, Ragan Smith, and a few of the other more ‘natural’ beam workers. Last quad there were rules about fluidity that described it as being ‘constantly moving’ or something but then you got girls like Larisa Iordache who buzzed around like she had just finished 40 oz of coffee just like, wildly waving her arms everywhere as she paced around the beam which was…not what they meant hahaha. Her beam always made me giggle because it was SO manic, I got anxious watching her!! So to eliminate things like that and other kinds of movement that is like, distracting from the flow of the routine, they created execution deductions to tackle basically anything that isn’t (a) an acro skill, (b) a dance element, or (c) legit choreography. Simone is definitely capable of doing a fluid beam routine without a bunch of adjustments, so I think her execution score could be on the higher end, but I wouldn’t expect a 9.0 or anything…unless the judges just throw the E score rules out the window on beam during the Olympics like they did with bars in the later subdivisions in Rio.
What do you expect for the women’s team from Brazil in Doha? Your site is awesome. Kisses from Brazil!
Thank you Brazil! I think they have a very strong team going into Doha. They’re definitely capable of making the team final, and I hope they are able to keep the injuries at bay this quad. That was really their problem in the past years at worlds, because as we saw in Rio, they made for a great team…but I think Daniele Hypolito, Rebeca Andrade, Jade Barbosa, and Flavia Saraiva all in full health with Thais Fidelis joining them could be an incredible team.
If McKayla Maroney downgraded her second vault and hit it in the 2012 Olympic vault final, would she have taken home gold?
It’s possible. If she did a Lopez or something and hit it well then yeah, most likely that would’ve been more than enough for her to get gold because her E score would’ve been so great on something like that (probably better than her ‘Mustafina’ E score, honestly) and she had such an edge with the Amanar already, it would’ve been hard for anyone to beat her even if she had lower difficulty.
When did Madison Kocian hit her peak in elite?
I would say probably around 2015 and 2016? I think she did some of her best work in Glasgow and Rio, and she had struggled so much with injuries prior to that, it was really kind of remarkable that everything worked out for her when she needed it to. With everything in 2012 and 2013 I was kind of like ugh, we’re never going to see her at full strength ever again, but then she looked so good on bars in 2014 and got her all-around back for worlds and I was just like WHAT. I then didn’t think it would last for another two years, so she just kind of surprised me every step of the way and while she never got to be a top all-arounder or anything, it was still remarkable what level she was able to reach on her other events in 2016. Her U.S. nationals and trials performances were so incredibly good all across the board and if everyone else on the team got injured and they had to use her as an all-arounder in Rio, she was in such a good place that she almost certainly would have medaled as an all-arounder, which just blows my mind knowing that only two years earlier I wasn’t expecting her to last even as a bars gymnast.
If a gymnast performed a set of flares in her beam routine rather than as a mount, would it be considered a different skill?
Technically yes but I doubt they’d allow it to be a different skill…they might just consider it choreography because it’s not acro, it’s not a jump/leap, it’s not a turn…there’s no category where it would fit in the code so while that and other non-acro/dance elements are allowed as mounts (like press handstands and things like that), they’re not allowed as skills outside of mounts. But if it WAS considered a leap or a turn or something, yes, it would be a different skill than the mount version of the skill (just like a gymnast can do a switch split leap mount and then also get credit for a switch split leap in her routine).
Who is Simone Biles’ coach currently? Is it just Laurent Landi or is Aimee Boorman also coaching her?
She is just with Laurent at the moment…Aimee moved away from Texas after Rio for her husband’s job and now lives in Florida with her family, coaching at a gym there called EVO. I was wondering if Simone would move to Florida to train with her, but considering WCC is her family’s gym, it seemed highly unlikely that she would uproot and go train somewhere else.
Why can gymnasts be added to the U.S. team without qualifying at nationals?
It depends on the needs of the team. Like, last year six juniors qualified to the national team but then four of them became seniors in 2018, so the junior national team only had two gymnasts on it. They added a number of additional national team members based on the verification camps so they’d have enough gymnasts to send to Pac Rims and Pan Ams. Another example is in 2015 when Brenna Dowell didn’t make the national team based on her finish at nationals, but then had a really strong worlds selection camp, and so she was added to the national team because she made the worlds team over girls who made the national team at nationals.
Did Shang Chunsong get full credit for the 3½ in Rio since she went into the punch pike afterwards?
Yeah, even though her rotation came up like, a hair short (one foot was pointed in the correct direction but the other foot was still kind of sideways), it wasn’t short enough to downgrade it to a triple, and then she was also straight enough to get the punch front out of it which basically showed that she had rotated it correctly. The punch pike definitely helps someone who is slightly short kind of ‘cheat’ the full rotation, especially for judges watching in real time…I think if she just stopped at the 3½ it would’ve been subjected to more criticism and possibly downgraded, but yeah, the punch front definitely helped her get the full credit.
How did you become a gymnastics nerd?
I did gymnastics as a kid and though I was pretty terrible at it and quit pretty early on, I was still a fan of it and my ‘introduction’ to that fandom was the 1996 Olympics so…that was a pretty great time to become a fan as an 11-year-old! I remember checking the mail constantly for Sports Illustrated for Kids so I could collect the ‘trading cards’ they had with the gymnasts. I kept following the sport but didn’t really get involved as a true nerd until about 2008 which is when social media started becoming a thing and I found lots of other nerds on Twitter during the Beijing Olympics and then about a year later began posting on Tumblr and joined that community.
Do shallow inbars get deducted?
I’ve heard two schools of thought from different judges here…one told me that technically no, they can’t deduct for shallow inbars because even without a deep pike, the gymnast is still meeting the requirements for a pike position, so as long as the feet clear the bar, it’s a correctly-performed inbar. I had another judge tell me that she deducts for shallow inbars anyway, though I’m not sure how she’d justify it since it’s not actually a deduction.
Do gymnasts get tired during a beam routine?
Not really…physically it’s not that demanding, at least not in the way the other three events are. It’s definitely the most mentally demanding, but the skills are generally pretty easy for a majority of elites…the hard part is just landing them on the four-inch beam. Generally no one comes off beam panting or dying the way they do on other events, so in comparison it’s not as tiring, though I’d think for a normal person it would still be quite the workout!
I once saw a video where a gymnast did a Tkachev over the high bar and caught the low bar. What do you think this would be rated?
With the width of the bars as is currently required I’d say like…a G at LEAST. Probably an H? That’s a hella far distance to travel!!
Do you work with a group of people to run this website? How many does it require? Did you start the site by yourself?
I started the site by myself in July 2014, but had a bunch of my friends involved on a low-key basis helping me get some articles out there to kick things off, but now it’s mostly just me, like I run everything and am writing nearly all of the articles and doing everything on the administrative side of things, but I also have a great editor who has been making sure I don’t make stupid mistakes (shoutout to Jessica Taylor Price!) and she also started compiling weekly news roundups earlier this year, adding some hilarious commentary a la The Skimm which is awesome because it’s always something I’ve wanted to do but I’m not great at putting them together in a smart but fun way and Jessica totally is. Aside from us, we also have Kensley Behel who writes some great MAG content every once in a while and is also working on a MAG skill guide, and then I’ll get the occasional article submissions from people who want to write for us and I also have a bunch of people who have covered meets for me when I’m not able to go which is also fab…Joe Rinaldi covered pretty much all of Rio for me when I was at NBC and he does some of our Twitter (and has assisted me at U.S. meets), and I’ve also had bloggers at NCAA Championships, several meets in Europe, and so on.
Is Seda Tutkhalyan done?
She is actually still training though nowhere near at a level where she once was. She competed three events at Russian nationals this year but was pretty weak on all of them. Her best event there was vault, where she had an FTY and a Lopez, but she wasn’t super clean on both so she’s kind of out of the picture for national team stuff. At least she seems to have a good attitude about it and she seems to be training more for fun than anything else.
Do you think the U.S. would benefit from doing event finals at nationals like some of the other countries do?
Not really. I don’t think it really makes sense especially in a field as deep as the U.S. because if someone falls in prelims and doesn’t make the final, she really only had that one chance to prove herself. Like, if someone is the best bars gymnast in the country but has something go wrong in prelims, then she doesn’t get to compete in the final which kinda limits her already super limited competitive experience going into worlds, so her only chance after that is the worlds selection camp but then it’s like, well she fell on that one day in competition at nationals, so can she not compete this routine in front of a crowd? I think it makes much more sense to give everyone two chances so you can better see what is a fluke compared to someone who’s just not great or consistent on the event. I always see that at other nationals, like someone like Marine Boyer not making the beam final in France even though she’s likely gonna go on and compete it at Euros and worlds, or Russia’s top beam and floor workers not making the finals even though they’re almost certainly going to make the team…like maybe it helps them mentally prepare for an event finals kind of setting but I honestly don’t think as a competitor you need those exact parameters replicated in your national meet in order to do them at worlds. The U.S. is more than fine in event finals (aside from sometimes just being exhausted at the end of a long competition) at major international meets, so there really is no reason to change it.
Could China and Russia go to Pac Rims?
Yup! They have in previous years. I think this year the timing was just awkward because Russia had nationals the week prior and China had nationals the week after. I think many countries prefer to have their gymnasts at the national meets to see how everyone stacks up against one another under the same judges, and it would’ve been a bit rushed to have nationals and an international meet back-to-back, especially in a country halfway across the world for both.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins
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