You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

Joe Fraser and James Hall

It’s time for the 234th 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.

The British men seem to be on the rise. What are they doing over there that’s not happening in the U.S.?

I’d say it likely has to do with development. You don’t get high-performing seniors without a strong development program, and it seems that in recent years while most teams are relying on older veterans in their late 20s and early 30s, Great Britain is monstrously successful with teams mostly made up of guys who are 23 and under, like James Hall, Joe Fraser, Dominick Cunningham, Brinn Bevan, Nile Wilson, Joe Fraser, Courtney Tulloch, Frank Baines, and so on, and they have a ton of juniors in the ranks who are looking like they’ll also be competitive once they reach the senior level. In many other countries, the reason they rely on veterans is because the young kids coming up take a while to reach a high enough level to be competitive, but Great Britain is crushing it at the developmental stages to make sure that juniors can pretty easily transition to the next level.

I think a lot of this has to do with the funding Great Britain received when it hosted the 2012 Olympic Games…that on top of the strong performances at the Olympics motivated younger generations and they have really been able to take advantage of that hype in a way that is really beginning to show now that these young athletes who were all young teenagers during the London Games are all becoming seniors. The biggest problem that faces boys’ development in the sport is that many boys quit before they become teenagers. In most countries, boys who do gymnastics face a stigma that girls don’t face, so girls stay in the sport at vastly higher rates than boys…but when boys see the Olympic Games happening in their country and watch the men from their country winning medals, that gives them a reason to stay involved for a longer period of time. I think that absolutely helped the British men’s program grow stronger, and I hope they continue to gain popularity and depth!

Can gymnasts grow too tall to stay in gymnastics?

At the elite level, taller gymnasts won’t be as successful as smaller gymnasts. They can still perform on the apparatuses, but the smaller gymnasts are at an advantage due to their size because they tend to find it easier to physically maneuver through skills, partly due to the height of the equipment but also because it’s harder for taller athletes to get the height required to flip themselves around and land safely. In NCAA, there can be modifications to vault and bars so that taller gymnasts can more comfortably perform skills (the vault table can be higher and the bars can be raised), and there have been plenty of tall gymnasts at this level…I think the tallest gymnast I’ve seen compete was around 5’9” and on average gymnasts are quite a bit taller than their elite counterparts.

Is it strange that Alyona Shchennikova is the alternate for Pan Ams but isn’t a national team member? Why are the national teams so small this year?

I would imagine she’s going to be added to the national team if she actually competes at Pan Ams, but right now ‘alternate’ is just kind of an honorary designation. For as long as I can remember, the national teams have always allowed for the top six at nationals in both the junior and senior divisions, and then there are an additional eight spots to be split between the two. For the last five or so years, they’ve only taken the six juniors who automatically qualify, and then they add more as the year goes on depending on the needs of the team, and for seniors they generally tend to expand the all-arounders by a few spots in addition to including a specialist or two. This year, there is a clear difference between the scores of those in the top eight and those ranked ninth and lower, so to me it was about choosing athletes who reached a certain score. Also, there were no real specialists to consider this year for additional spots…Jade Carey qualified as an all-arounder, and Ashton Locklear is injured. The only ‘specialists’ at nationals were nowhere near the level to make the national team. I’d imagine girls like Ragan Smith and Jordan Chiles will get invitations to the worlds selection camp and could be added to the national team from there if their performances improve.

During the senior women’s finals in Boston, the start list I had was mostly correct, but Simone Biles went last on floor when she was supposed to be first. Why was this?

The lists change depending on who ends up withdrawing. In the previous rotation (beam), she was probably supposed to compete second, but the first-up gymnast may have scratched, which would’ve bumped her to first on beam, meaning she then would’ve gone last on floor (and then second-to-last on vault). These things change all the time.

Do you know how much it costs to send the women’s team to worlds? What are the financial responsibilities of the athletes on a trip like that?

It depends on what they’re flying and where they’re staying but for the team alone, I’d say about $10k for flight and hotel (but of course beyond that the federation also has to pay for a dozen coaches, trainers, and officials, so I’d guess just for flight and hotel, it’s somewhere in the $50k range at least). Athletes aren’t responsible for covering any of their travel for a meet like worlds.

Is there a requirement for which end of the beam gymnasts have to mount or dismount from?

No! I used to think there was because everyone would mount and dismount from the same ends, but I learned that there actually is no requirement…it just happens that they all end up doing the same thing for whatever reason. Maybe easier for everyone training so people can be ready to mount just as the girl before her is dismounting? In NCAA I’ve seen gymnasts mount and dismount from different ends of the beam.

According to the Alabama website, Shallon Olsen will be competing as an all-arounder. Do you think she can still go for a spot on the Canadian team in 2020, or is it more likely she will go for an individual spot and just train vault and floor while at Alabama?

Well, saying she’s an all-arounder on the roster just means that she is capable of doing all four events and isn’t a specialist…it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to use her on all four events. I think she wants to make the actual team in 2020, and so she probably wants to continue training all four events so she can put herself in the mix for a team spot. She actually scores relatively well as an all-arounder in Canada, generally in the top five, so if girls get injured or something in 2020, she can absolutely still be in the mix for a team spot. If the choice is between her and a more balanced all-arounder with no standout events, Shallon gets it in a heartbeat because she can just do her meh bars and beam in prelims as the leadoff they’re hoping to drop, but then they’d benefit more from having her vault (and possibly floor) than they would having a balanced all-arounder who gets a 13 on everything. But if there end up being four all-arounders who are more valuable than she is in 2020, she would definitely be in the mix for the individual spot. Either way, I see her as continuing to train all four events and then as it gets closer and as they see what the team needs, they’ll probably figure things out from there.

Can you give us an update on Larisa Iordache’s comeback?

The last I heard, she said she had about a 50% chance of coming back to the sport. She said she really wants to make it happen, but her surgery last year wasn’t successful so I believe she went to Germany for another surgery somewhat recently and will see if that’s able to get her back in fighting form.

If a gymnast performs skills of a B+C+B+B value on beam, will she get two series bonuses? One for the first three and another for the last three? If a D acro is connected to a C dance, will she receive CV for B+D as well as C+D?

No, she will only get one series bonus. She would have to do a separate three-skill series to get another series credited. And as for the second question, no, she would only get the credit for the highest potential connection (so the C+D).

Are bails easier than Pak saltos? I noticed that some gymnasts who aren’t good at bars tend to do bails.

I think it depends on the gymnast in terms of which one is ‘easier’ but I will say that a bail is easier to make look good! I actually think swinging into the salto to catch the low bar is probably easier for many than it is to do the underswing with the half turn that the bail requires, but the aesthetics of the Pak are much more difficult to master than the skill itself, as it has to look a certain way and if you’re even slightly off — too arched, not arched enough, legs too far apart, too close to the bar, and so on — you get hammered with deductions. With the bail, as long as your body is straight and you catch in handstand, you’re fine. I’d say gymnasts who struggle with clean lines on bars will prefer a bail over a Pak? But the physical act of catching a Pak might actually be easier than a bail…again, it’ll all vary on the gymnast and her abilities though.

What happened to Abi Walker and Annie Beard?

Abi was injured this year, and I believe is dropping down to level 10 before going to college (so she’ll do level 10 next season basically) and Annie was also injured this year…she was supposed to compete at classics and nationals this summer but ended up withdrawing from both because she wasn’t fully ready to return yet.

How does not making the national team impact someone like Jordan Bowers or Ragan Smith financially? Do they now have to pay their own way for camps?

If they’re invited to the national team camp, USA Gymnastics will still pay their way, so they’re not financially responsible for that. They just don’t get a monthly stipend anymore, which gymnasts use to help defray the costs of training.

Who choreographs Morgan Hurd’s floor routines? They’re so iconic and different!

I believe Dominic Zito choreographs hers, but I’m not sure…I’m not always the biggest Dominic Zito fan because a lot of his routines end up looking the same, but I think a lot of that has to do with the gymnasts who perform them. Morgan clearly has a talent for dance and performance, so I’d imagine he has a much easier time working with her than most, which makes his job easier and allows him to play a bit more with her routines than he could with routines for gymnasts that need more basic choreography.

What’s a cartwheel called in the elite code of points?

Just a cartwheel. You don’t really see them because they’re rated just an A on beam, but a side aerial is actually called an ‘aerial cartwheel’ in the code because that’s what it is (just like a front aerial is referred to as an ‘aerial walkover’ because it’s a front walkover without the use of the hands).

Do they intentionally start gymnasts on their best event at nationals?

No. The draw is done at random, and a gymnast who starts on vault on the first day will start on bars the next…or someone who starts on beam the first day will start on floor the next.

Is there a deduction for Kailin Chio’s coaches running around like maniacs under the bars, doing everything short of touching her in competition while spotting, and having two coaches tag in and out on the podium during the same routine?

No…and besides, things like these tend to be a bit more lax at nationals anyway. On the world stage, the judges would definitely give a penalty for something like this, but she’d only be able to have one coach with her there anyway, and the coaches at that level know what not to do when spotting. At most smaller competitions (and at domestic meets) it’s normal to see coaches go a bit crazy with the spotting…there were coaches with one of the French teams at Gymnix this year who were literally all over the bars podium during every routine practically carrying gymnasts through their sets, which was super distracting, but it’s normal to see at meets that aren’t bigger FIG-governed meets.

Why are U.S. nationals two days of the same gymnasts and events?

If a competition has qualifications to a second all-around competition, or has one day of all-around and one day of event finals, if someone falls or has an uncharacteristically bad day, then she doesn’t qualify to the next round and the national staff can’t see what she’s capable of if given a second chance. Because the U.S. team is so deep, it’s likely that a top contender for worlds could have a miss on the first day of competition, and then wouldn’t qualify for the second day, meaning she wouldn’t get to go on and show her routine again, meaning the national staff wouldn’t know if she’d be able to do her routine again in a competition setting. For a team with a lot of depth, it’s better to see two days of full routines from every competitor because it tells you if something was a fluke or if a gymnast truly can’t perform the event. National events with qualifications and finals work for smaller programs that don’t have a ton of depth, because it wouldn’t matter what happened on the first day — most of the top competitors would probably still qualify to the second day even with falls or major errors. The U.S. is in a different situation, though, and this works better for selection purposes because it gives the staff more time to see what everyone can do.

What is the purpose of a vault timer? Why do they roll out of warmup vaults?

Vault timers help gymnasts get used to the motion of the vault they’re performing, allowing them to build up to the actual vault they’re doing…and they often roll out of them so they can save their ankles and knees by limiting the hard landings. A gymnast with an Amanar, for example, might first run down the runway and then stop at the table in her first run, for her second she might just do a Yurchenko with no salto and land on her back, for her third she might add a salto and then roll out of it, for her fourth she might do a full or a double depending on how comfortable she is with going right for the double, and then she’ll either attempt the Amanar or just do another double and hop around the final half twist and save the actual Amanar vault for the competition.

Why didn’t Maile O’Keefe compete at nationals? Was she injured?

She has been dealing with a wrist injury this year and unfortunately wasn’t well enough to compete just yet, and they felt it was better to not push things and just let her come back next year when she’s fully healthy.

Why did Margzetta Frazier represent UCLA at nationals? Did she have a falling out with her old gym?

No, she didn’t have a falling out, and in fact her UCLA coaches even gave Donna Strauss and Parkettes the credit for getting Margzetta prepared for nationals. She moved to UCLA this summer and found it easier to just keep things consistent with her collegiate coaches taking her to nationals rather than going to UCLA and training with the UCLA coaches, and then going back to her Parkettes coaches for a few days just to return to her UCLA coaches again. Some gymnasts will return to their clubs if they have the time between seasons, but Margzetta was at UCLA and couldn’t go back and forth between California and Pennsylvania, so this just made more sense logistically. When Vanessa Zamarripa was at UCLA, she stayed there during the summer and brought her UCLA coaches with her to nationals, but when Mackenzie Caquatto was at Florida, she opted to go home to her gym in the summer and compete with them at nationals.

Why wasn’t Emma Malabuyo at nationals this year?

She was dealing with a back injury, and though she was planning on competing, and went to all of the training sessions with her club in Boston, she opted to sit out the competition so she wouldn’t further injure her back. She does plan on petitioning to the worlds selection camp, however, and hopefully she’ll be in a better shape to compete once that rolls around.

Could Nastia Liukin have realistically challenged Svetlana Khorkina and Carly Patterson for the all-around gold in 2004?

I think if she was actually training to peak at that Olympic Games then yes, she had the talent at that age to have been competitive that year. Because she was only a junior, she wasn’t pushing it in the way she would have had she been at the senior level hoping for an Olympic team spot, and she was still better than the majority of the seniors even without training for that peak in the way they were, so had she been training with the 2004 Olympic Games in mind, I think she definitely could have been at the top.

Do you have any information on the format for junior world championships in 2019?

There isn’t any information about this yet. I think they’re still trying to determine whether it will be a team competition or an individual one…many countries prefer a team competition, especially with so many juniors hoping to contend for their Olympic teams the following year, it would be nice to see them get some major international team competition before being thrown into the Olympic situation. But as of right now, we don’t know the team sizes, whether there will be a team competition, what the team final format would be…and so on.

In 2015, I believe the U.S. had one traveling alternate and one stay-at-home alternate for worlds. With the new five-person teams, do you think the U.S. will maintain this format, or select three alternates similar to the Olympics? Is there a reason the alternate situation doesn’t stay consistent from year to year?

Teams can only register one alternate to travel with them to worlds, and most won’t even designate a second non-traveling alternate…I think the U.S. just does this as a kind of honorary thing rather than thinking they’d seriously fly in an alternate to compete last-minute should the traveling alternate not work out. For worlds, in years with team competitions, most teams just take one alternate along with them because that’s all they’re allowed, but for the Olympics, teams can’t bring any alternates with them into the village or the arena. They can name up to three alternates to replace members of the team, but these alternates have to train at facilities outside of the Olympic facilities, and they can only be brought in if an athlete on the team gets injured (the injured athlete has to give up her credentials so the alternate coming in can get credentialed as an athlete).

I saw the Croatian men got huge neutral deductions — like four or five points — at Euros. What were these deductions for?

It’s because their routines were considered ‘short exercises.’ The Croatian men really only train a couple of events at the elite level, but they’re really trying to put a full team together right now, so they figured they’d make a go at the other events even knowing they wouldn’t have routines that came close to meeting requirements. The athletes would just perform a handful of skills, but elite routines are required to have at least seven skills counting into the exercise; otherwise they face a penalty. A gymnast with only 5-6 elements gets a 4 point neutral deduction, one with only 3-4 elements gets a 6 point neutral deduction, and one with only 1-2 elements gets an 8 point neutral deduction. Jakov Vlahek performed a beautiful p-bars routine at Euros, getting a 9.0 E score, but his 4.0 neutral deduction means he performed only 5-6 elements instead of the required 7.

On rings, three of the Croatian men got these 4.0 short exercise penalties, but on top of that they also got a bunch of penalties for not holding positions for the required amount of time…the reason you saw SO many neutral deductions on rings this year is that they were using a robotic timer to count holds on this apparatus, and rather than the 0.3 deductions being taken from the execution score, they were taken as penalties since it was a computer system rather than an actual human making the decisions regarding these vaults. Jakov Vlahek likely got the 4.0 neutral deduction for a short exercise, and then got another 1.5 points as a penalty for not hitting five of his holds for the required amount of time. You can watch his routine here and see that he is a hair short on pretty much all of his holds, which a human judge might not have picked up on, but the computers absolutely did.

Would Oksana Chusovitina have made the German Olympic team in 2016 had she not switched to Uzbekistan?

It depends…they actually had some depth in 2016, and I don’t think the scores she was getting on vault would have given her a spot over anyone who ended up going. I could maybe see her making it over Kim Bui, which would put Tabea Alt in the all-around over Sophie Scheder, which I actually would have preferred…Kim wasn’t outscoring Tabea so much on bars that the shift would’ve made a huge difference. But I definitely don’t think they would’ve let her risk the Produnova, and without that, her vault would’ve scored similarly to Tabea’s DTY, meaning it wouldn’t really make sense to take her for one event that other gymnasts were doing just as well. It could’ve gone either way, but I think since they had Kim healthy and able to contribute on multiple events, they probably would’ve preferred her over Oksana.

Is Adria Biles still training or has she left the sport?

She is no longer training in gymnastics…her last meet was level 9 Westerns in 2016, where she placed 24th.

Has a gymnast ever connected a front handspring to a barani on beam? Is this even feasible? Who would you like to see do it?

Hmmmmmmm…not that I can think of, but my memory is terrible, so maybe someone has trained it and I just can’t think of it? I would say it’s definitely possible to do a front handspring to a front half, but it would be VERY difficult to get the connection down. I’d like to see a little beam kid do it, like Konnor McClain.

Can you please write a rough guide on the process for attending world championships as a spectator? When do you buy tickets and reserve hotels? What is the cost? Any tips and tricks on getting a photo with a gymnast?

It depends on where worlds is being hosted, but sometimes tickets go on sale a year or more before the event, and other times they don’t go on sale until a few months before. Stuttgart next year will be expensive and more difficult to get tickets than this year in Doha, where tickets were only recently released and will be a bit cheaper. I’ve never purchased tickets to worlds but if I was going to, I’d buy them as early as possible. As for hotels, you don’t have to really worry about booking early or not…there are generally plenty of spaces to stay between hotels and Airbnbs. As for meeting gymnasts, there are generally specific doors where they’ll come in and out, but really, you end up seeing them just walking around the arena and the area of the arena. If you get there early enough when they’re at practice or something you’ll definitely run into quite a few…but know that if you find the door where they enter/exit, there will be hundreds of other people also hoping to meet gymnasts, so it gets super crowded and they’re not going to have time to take photos with everyone especially if they have to be at training or on a bus at a specific time. People in Montreal kept calling certain gymnasts rude but like, the buses that take gymnasts to and from the hotels run on a schedule and if they miss the bus they have no other way of getting around.

Are Julia Rumbutis and David Rumbutis related to one another? How common is it to see different-sex siblings competing in MAG and WAG at the international level?

They’re siblings! Julia is now representing Georgia internationally, so they’re especially interesting as siblings because one of them competes for Sweden and the other for Georgia. There have been a few siblings to reach high levels in both MAG and WAG through the years. In the U.S. the two who come to mind first are Kamerin and Jacob Moore and Briley and Cole Casanova; Kamerin and Briley went further in their elite careers than their brothers did, but both Jacob and Cole competed NCAA and elite as well. Internationally, the biggest brother-sister stars are absolutely Daniele and Diego Hypolito, who not only compete in the sport internationally together, but also represented Brazil together at three different Olympic Games, in 2008, 2012, and 2016. Right now, my favorite pair is Daniel Ponizil and Dominika Ponizilova…both just represented the Czech Republic at Euros, with older brother Daniel on the junior MAG team while Dominika was on the senior WAG team. Both are very talented vaulters…Daniel made the vault final at Euros this year and Dominika made the vault final at EYOF last summer!

Who would the U.S. have put up in the 2008 team final had there not been injuries?

I honestly don’t think it would’ve changed much if at all…Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, and Alicia Sacramone were often the top three on most events, and with the exception of Nastia needing a substitute on vault (which she got in team finals with Bridget Sloan) and Alicia needing a substitute on bars (which was obviously Chellsie Memmel in the team final), these three could’ve just been the team on their own and probably would’ve still achieved similar results. I think even if healthy, I wouldn’t have used Sam Peszek in the team final…in hindsight knowing what happened with Alicia on beam you could say she should’ve gone up there, but I think the goal was to always have the beam and floor rotations be Nastia, Shawn, and Alicia in finals, so I really don’t think much would have changed.

Why does the commentator say that Nadia Comaneci needs to perform a 12.0 routine in this video?

I think she was just kind of saying she needs to go above and beyond to win, like saying “she has to give 200%” or something hyperbolic. I don’t know why; this was the American Cup and the closest to her was Kathy Howard, who was almost two points behind her in the all-around so Nadia literally could have fallen and been fine, but I guess this commentator was really digging deep for a story, hahaha.

Can you explain how Pan Ams work? I find it so confusing year to year.

Sure! The Pan American Games are the big competition. The Games are a multi-sport event held every four years in the year prior to the Olympic Games (so 2011, 2015, and this quad they’ll be in 2019) and for gymnastics, they generally include team and all-around competitions in addition to apparatus finals similar to worlds, Euros, the Asian Games, and other major events.

In the years that there are no Games, each sport has its own continental championships to keep the competition alive between all of the Pan American teams, as well as to use these championship meets to serve as qualifiers to the Games. The championships vary from year to year based on the organizers of the meet. In 2016, for example, because they were held just a month after the Olympics, they knew most top competitors wouldn’t be attending, so for the seniors they just held an apparatus competition with individual event qualifications and finals, but for the juniors they held a team and all-around competition in addition to event finals. In 2017, with most teams still pretty depleted in the post-Olympic hiatus, once again the meet was just an individual apparatus meet for the seniors, but this year is the qualifier for next year’s Pan Am Games, so the competition in 2018 will include the team and all-around aspect in addition to the event finals.

Now that continental championships serve as qualifiers for the Olympics, the 2020 Pan American Championships will be held prior to the Olympic Games, and they’ll have to include an all-around competition, since this is how individuals will qualify to Tokyo…but I’d imagine in 2021 we’ll see just the apparatus championships again, and then 2022 will likely be the team/all-around/event competition that we’ll see this year, as 2022 will serve as the qualifier for the 2023 Pan Am Games.

Would Valeri Liukin need to obtain Brazilian citizenship in order to become the national team coordinator for Brazil?

Nope! He’s allowed to coach or consult the Brazilian team as an American citizen. Only the athletes have to be citizens of the country they represent in international competition.

What happened to Elena Arenas? Why did she stop training elite and why wasn’t she at J.O. nationals?

She decided to start training as a level 10 this year after several years at the elite level, probably to give herself a break as she prepares for college in the near future. She competed level 10 all season this year, including competing at J.O. nationals, where she placed 12th all-around in the Senior B division.

What happened to Ariana Agrapides from MG Elite?

I believe she faced a period where she felt like she didn’t want to do gymnastics anymore, so she left MG Elite and took time off to run track and enjoy other activities before getting back into gymnastics. When she returned to the sport, she decided to go to Premier Gymnastics, and she’s returned to level 10 in 2016. She made nationals in both 2017 and 2018, placing sixth on vault both years, but the rest of her events aren’t quite as strong, so she was only able to manage 39th all-around last year and then 32nd this year. She is committed to begin competing for Iowa in 2019-2020.

What happens if a gymnast lands a bars dismount and has so much rotation they rebound into a front tuck and land it? Would they get deducted? Would it count as a fall?

It would count as a fall and they’d get a point off for the fall. The point of hitting a bars dismount is to land what you competed as your dismount, and to show control on that landing. Punching out of a dismount landing shows that you didn’t have the control to land it, and it would be a fall.

Do you have tips for following international gymnastics? USA Gymnastics is easy to follow but I want to follow other countries and don’t know where to start.

We have a full calendar of every single meet that happens all over the world each year. Pay attention to the dates, and if there’s something you want to watch, just check our Twitter during the dates of that competition…we generally post any live streams that we come across if they’re available. Some don’t come up until very last-minute, so you really just have to keep refreshing our twitter because we’ll post it if we have it! I always post the really obscure meets that no one cares about, so if the Olympic Hopes Cup or the Nordic Championships are something you want to see, we’ll absolutely let our followers know about them. 🙂

I was looking at the competitions that the junior men go to internationally and I was wondering how they choose the teams. Do you have to be on the national team? The gymnast at the Reykjavik International meet from the U.S. wasn’t at U.S. Championships and the same with Asher Hong and Josh Karnes. Are they too young? Do you have to be the top in the country to go to those meets or can you go with your gym instead of the national team?

Many international competitions — like Reykjavik — are considered invitationals, meaning they allow for club entries in addition to national entries. All of the boys who competed as juniors at Reykjavik this year were sent by their clubs, just like Sydney Johnson-Scharpf represented her club at Reykjavik in 2017. Despite not being a member of the national team, because the meet was an invitational and accepted club entries, her coach decided to send her to give her some experience on an international stage.

Asher and Josh are both too young to be considered junior international elites for most competitions, including domestic competition in the U.S. For U.S. MAG, juniors have to be in the 15-18 age range, but both Asher and Josh are 14 so while they might have the skills that make them competitive against those who are 15-18, they aren’t age-eligible to compete level 10 or as junior elites, so right now both are level 9 and are on the level 9 national team. Sometimes the U.S. will opt to send level 9s on junior international assignments that don’t require junior men to be over 15, and since Pac Rims doesn’t have those junior age requirements (unlike Pan Ams, which does have age eligibility requirements), Asher was able to compete at Pac Rims even though he isn’t age-eligible to compete as a level 10/junior elite in the U.S.

Any international competition under the FIG umbrella — like the Olympics and other multi-sport Games, world championships, continental championships, and world cups — has to follow age requirements set by the FIG and for these meets, and the national governing body has to select the athletes who will compete, but most of the smaller meets like club meets, friendly meets, and invitationals don’t have to follow the FIG rules and some will allow clubs to compete while others won’t limit based on age.

Gymnix is a good example of both because they have one division — the Junior Cup — that follows FIG regulations related to age and only invited NGBs can send teams, but they also have other divisions — like the Challenge — that allow for both NGBs and clubs to send gymnasts who all compete together regardless of age. The U.S. women’s program didn’t send a team to compete in the Junior Cup this year, but many U.S. juniors were sent by their clubs to compete in the Challenge division which featured both senior and junior competitors.

Have a question? Ask below! Remember that the form directly below this line is for questions; to comment, keep scrolling to the bottom of the page. We do not answer questions about team predictions nor questions that ask “what do you think of [insert gymnast here]?”

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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50 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

    • Marie-Sophie Hindermann was also about 5’7 when she competed so obviously there are exceptions but I think Lauren was speaking in general. I know Kyla Ross grew several inches after 2012 which affected her gymnastics (particularly her double layout on uneven bars) since elite gymnasts can’t adjust equipment but when started competing NCAA (and at 5’9) she could make the adjustments necessary for someone of her height.


    • I’m not sure about Thomas’ height, but Israeli gymnast Alexander Shatilov is a smidge over 6ft, his best event is floor, he’s won World and European medals at that level on floor. He’s the tallest male gymnast I can think of.


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    • I dont know why all the whining every time there is a talk about height in gymnastics. Taller can but it is limited, it is like a short athlete trying to reach elite level volleyball or basketball. Short people are discriminated in most of sports , why in the world the omly one they have advantage people have to complain?????? Tall gymnasts can practice but at elite level, the short are the best. Period.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yup, people are tweeting me like TELL THAT TO SHATILOV, TELL THAT TO GRB, I’m like…I didn’t say tall people CANT DO GYMNASTICS. I said short athletes have the advantage. It’s literally physics lol. There’s no need to list every tall person (aka like 1% of competing elites) to “prove me wrong.” Cool, they made it as taller gymnasts but they’re the minority and most who will be successful are short. Like in baseball saying “taller athletes are generally more successful” doesn’t mean you’re being dismissive of Dustin Pedroia, he’s just an exception to the rule.


  2. I think the 12.0 scoring routine may have referred to the difficulty she was performing? I’m not sure how the code was at that time


  3. At Euros in Bern 2015 I was with the Russian Team on the tram after qualifications. They just took the public transportation like all the visitors.


    • Sometimes in cities with good public transportation they do that. Most of the time they have buses directly from the hotel to the arena on a schedule. That’s how it was in Montreal (but the buses were a mess and many gymnasts ended up missing buses and taking public transportation), in Rio for the test event (I took many a rowdy ride back to the hotels with the gymnasts…our hotel was an hour from the arena), and that’s how it will be for Doha (I specifically had to book a hotel just because it’s the only place I can catch the FIG shuttle).


    • In Bern all the athletes, coaches and judges were given tickets to allow them to use public transport for free. Bern is a small city and the location of the arena is so easily accessible by public transport that no official transport was required. As a judge I’ve been all over the world at big competitions and normally official transportation is provided as either the hotels or the arenas are not easily accessible by public transport.


  4. Ok, different sport but similar thing–we were at Skate America a few years ago and ran into Tatiana Volosozhar / Maxim Trankov (Olympic Gold pairs skaters) in the airport security line. It was totally fun! Another time we were in the same airport line with a skater from Belgium.


  5. It’s weird how GB has a great MAG development but they don’t seem to be able to transition WAG juniors well. Most of the top juniors just don’t end up making huge impacts as seniors, or at least not for a few years. They have the talent in the junior ranks, but they seem to head case when they become senior.


    • Yeah…I actually don’t think their juniors have seemed promising since the Amy/Ellie days, like circa 2014 when they also had Catherine and Teal at a really high level. After 2014 it really kind of went downhill. Like, Taeja won everything domestically as a junior in 2016-2017 because she was the best in Britain by far, and people were really excited about her, but when Amy/Ellie were that age they were competitive against seniors and highly competitive internationally, whereas Taeja wasn’t even close. A lot of people were really surprised to see her not doing as well on the senior level but like…you could see when she was a junior that she’d need a lot of work to make it as a senior. I think it’s similar with Amelie, who is fab in the junior ranks right now especially with that incredible Euros performance, but she definitely won’t cut it in the senior ranks unless there are injuries. The WAG program definitely received funding and attention similar to MAG, but every country goes through droughts and this could just be a drought for them. They do have a good amount of depth at the elite level in both the junior and senior ranks, and I was really impressed with the juniors in Glasgow because they weren’t as flashy as some of the other junior teams (like Italy and Russia) but they still ended up performing fabulously. There’s just no one who is a major standout performing above and beyond the junior expectations in the way Amy/Ellie did, though, so it was easy for those two to bridge the gap and become seniors as they were already basically at the senior level, but the current juniors still need a TON of work before the senior level otherwise they’ll be in the same boat as Taeja is now unfortunately (though kudos to Taeja for her always impressive work on floor).


      • I think Amelie might just be able to pull through – her form is good and she’s constantly working upgrades, judging by what The Academy post publicly. I think a large part of the problem is that coaching issues and injuries have plagued the promising GBR juniors, leading to a lot of the stronger juniors being gone. I am hoping Gabby Jupp finally gets an injury free competition season, her gymnastics is lovely.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m crying because we could have had Catherine Lyons, Tyesha Matthis and Gabby Jupp along with Claudia/Ellie/Amy/Georgia/Alice, but we can’t have nice things.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I agree about Amelie and feel Lauren may be underating her slightly. No she doesn’t have quite the difficulty that Ellie and Amy had at that age but she’s more consistent than they were and if she can transition to the senior ranks successfully she could be in the mix for a place on the GB team, if only because GB are crying out for a steady beam worker. Beam is GBs major downfall (no pun intended!) and anyone who can regularly go clean on that piece is in with a shout of making the team.
          Is Gabby Jupp even still training? She’s no longer part of the GB squad.


        • I’m not really “underrating” her…just not confident in her abilities to transition to the senior level without major upgrades. She was fabulous at Euros but that was in a very low-difficulty field. It’s not easy to add 0.5 in D on each routine in just a few months, and while she has been steady in her routines, and while GB needs steady, they generally take bigger difficulty over steady (otherwise Maisie Methuen would’ve gone to Euros this year). Amelie definitely has a shot to contribute at the senior level but with everyone healthy, she won’t be a first choice without upgrades. I guess luckily for her, everyone is always injured. 😉


        • While Ellie/Amy are injured, Amelie has a good chance at making a team. She has a DTY which was pretty good at Euros and her beam is good so for now I think she will make a team

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  6. Thanks for answering my question about the Rumbutises! I suspected they might be siblings but the fact that they represent different countries threw me off a bit. I also didn’t realise the Hypolitos were siblings either.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I actually disagree on the finals lineup for 2008. I think the intention before trials etc was always Shawn Nastia and Alicia… but I truly think chellsie would have gotten the beam spot over Alicia and it would have been a close call for the floor final spot. I was so upset when she got Injured!!!! I also think she should have been on the 2004 team (obviously I was not there or know how ready the gymnasts were but in my opinion that was not the best team composition)


    • Yeah, I forgot what a game-changer Chellsie was at Trials! I guess they would’ve seen at the camp if that was a fluke or if they were seriously going to use her over Alicia on beam…that really was the best Chellsie ever looked so it only makes her injury timing more horrible. I also think she should’ve been on 2004 but yeah, we never know what happens at camp. I think they really wanted multiple DTYs on the team which is why they went for Annia AND Mohini but yeah I don’t remember every little detail about that.


      • I pulled up the Trials results and I completely forgot that Alicia only came in 5th on beam while Chellsie came in 2nd, even outscoring Nastia. She even outscored Alicia on floor so it’s possible she was up for either of those apparatuses.

        I also forgot how many Yurchenko 1 1/2s USA had in 2008 which is hilarious since in 2012 we became the United States of Amanar.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Didn’t the US bring in Chellsie to compete in 2003 Worlds after a couple of gymnasts were either injured became ill? IIRC, Chellsie was not an alternate to that team.


    • Yup! That was in the U.S. though (so easier to get her there travel-wise) and they desperately needed her doing all four events in QFs. Usually they don’t fly someone in internationally even in extreme cases, like with Beijing and even in Tokyo they didn’t use the alternate even though she was there on the floor with the team. I think with Martha, sometimes she was so set in who she wanted to see compete, she refused to bring in anyone else…maybe that will change going forward with Tom, but yeah, I’d say the majority of the time in the past when they had a “non-traveling alternate” they almost always chose to keep them at home.


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