You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 238th 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.

When will the women’s world championships team be chosen?

Assuming you mean for the U.S. Their final selection camp is October 10-13, so the team will probably be named around the 13th and then they have another few days of camp before flying to Doha. We’ll probably hear what the nominative team is in the next week or so, though…the FIG usually releases the nominative roster about a month prior to the competition, and while it’s not a definite list of who will be on the team, it’s usually pretty accurate for most countries and we’re not likely to see a ton of changes from the nominative roster to the team roster.

Since camp verification matters most, what would happen if Morgan Hurd had a disastrous verification at camp? Would they still take her because she is the reigning world all-around champion, and just had a bad couple of days? Does camp really matter for people like Simone Biles?

Performance at camp is more than about just hitting. If you fall on a routine at camp but have otherwise been pretty consistent (both in training and in previous competitions like nationals) and without that fall you’re in the top three on that event, it doesn’t matter as much. I think if Morgan had a really bad verification, but her potential was still far greater than what other girls in consideration were doing, then she’d still get the worlds spot over them. Like, someone who maxes out at a 54 AA score and has an amazing camp and ends up beating Morgan who gets like a 53.5 with a few falls wouldn’t get a spot over Morgan.

The decision is definitely more about that potential. They realize what a bad day looks like, and they know that someone who generally has looked strong otherwise — isn’t injured, looks fantastic in training, and so on — will probably be fine at worlds. I think for them to not take Morgan at this point, she would have to have several falls and also show in training that she’s really struggling physically and mentally with her skills and routines, in which case they’d probably look for someone else…but someone who just falls in the verification meet won’t take them out of contention if they’ve already shown to be one of the top on multiple events and in the all-around.

For someone like Simone, I think camp is more of a formality just to prove readiness. Simone is Simone, and obviously looked incredible at nationals, but if she ended up getting injured and losing skills or whatever, they wouldn’t know that without bringing her to the camps and testing her/seeing if she’s still good to go. I think at this point, Simone is a lock for worlds no matter what she does at camp, unless what she does at camp is getting injured to the point where she can’t do anything.

If Trinity Thomas or Jade Carey go to worlds, would they be the first to compete internationally for the U.S. while also competing for an NCAA team?

Nope! The most recent gymnast to do this in the U.S. was Mackenzie Caquatto, who was a freshman at Florida when she competed at worlds in 2010. And last year, for an example of someone not on the U.S. team, Courtney McGregor of Boise State represented New Zealand at worlds while in the middle of her sophomore year.

Will the U.S. be selecting a traveling alternate and a non-traveling alternate?

They’re definitely selecting a traveling alternate…as for a non-traveling, they might possibly name someone? But they don’t always. It’s more in name than anything as they can’t ‘officially’ have more than one alternate.

What are the cool stories we should look for at worlds this year? Any countries sending gymnasts for the first time? Any up-and-coming teams with a chance at making finals? Who are the newcomers and underdogs?

There are lots of things to look forward to at worlds this year. I’ll have extensive previews for each event as well as for the all-around and team competitions like I did last year…but for now, my favorite thing is Belgium with a big shot at making the team final, and on the individual level I’m really excited about the potential of Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos and Chen Yile, and I’m also thrilled to finally see Ana Padurariu at this level after watching her for so long as a junior. But there’s so much more, these are just the number one things in my life at the moment! Just keep an eye out for previews, which will start coming out about two weeks prior to the event.

Why was Isabela Onyshko so unsuccessful at the Szombathely World Cup?

Everyone has a bad day. She just happened to have a mistake or fall on all of her events, which is a bummer, but it happens.

What is the worlds format for qualifications and finals?

It’s the same as the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. In qualifications, it’s four-up three-count, and in finals it’s three-up three-count.

Who do you think will become the head coach of UCLA? Will Jordyn Wieber have a chance? What about gymnasts who have verbally committed? Will they still keep it even though Miss Val won’t be there?

I do think Jordyn will have a shot, but I think Chris Waller will also be in the running, as will outside candidates (like Rhonda Faehn, who got her start coaching there). I think most gymnasts who have verbally committed will still want to attend UCLA…coaches are a big reason why gymnasts commit to a program but they’re not the only reason. When Jay Clark was forced to resign from Georgia, incoming gymnasts were annoyed but stayed, and ended up loving working with Danna Durante, and I think the only recruit they lost was Lexie Priessman.

What are your thoughts on Miss Val’s retirement? Will UCLA become less successful?

I don’t think they will. They have a solid list of recruits coming in over the next few years, and while Miss Val was obviously an amazing coach and part of the reason gymnasts chose that program, UCLA has soooo many benefits that make it an incredible option for a collegiate career. It’s a top academic program, it’s in a beautiful location, there are tons of internships and jobs available in the entertainment industry, the support staff is incredible…and when Miss Val leaves, you know they’re going to get another top-notch collegiate coach who will keep them at the top.

Do you think Miss Val’s retirement is linked to a possible role at USA Gymnastics?

I don’t know…and don’t think so, really. I don’t see her moving to Indianapolis for a legitimate job with them. I could see her consulting for them or taking a role on the board but I don’t think she’d retire from the job she has now to go and work for them.

Is Miss Val leaving UCLA on her own terms?

Yeah. If she wasn’t, they wouldn’t have given her another nine months there before forcing her out.

Does Grace McCallum have two vaults? She was in the vault final at Pan Ams.

Yes, she does. They didn’t show her second vault but I believe she did a Podkopayeva? Could’ve also been a tsuk full, but the Pod makes sense if she eventually wants to work her way up to something like a Lopez or Cheng which tends to be what the U.S. girls do.

Where has Morgan Hurd committed for college?

She is committed to the University of Florida.

What do you think of Ashton Locklear’s shot for this year’s worlds? What about Tokyo?

She’s not in contention this year as she’s still recovering from an injury and hasn’t been able to train for Doha. If she’s going for Tokyo, I’d say she’ll have to go for an individual spot because she won’t make the team with only two events.

Would you rather be a millionaire or have a beautiful, Cold War-ending, tear-inducing swing on the uneven bars?

I have close to $100,000 in student loans so like, not to be all capitalist or anything but GIVE ME THE MONEY.

Can a gymnast do a handspring to full twist before touching the vault table, and then a front pike, tuck, or layout?

Yup! This is a handspring full-on. Full-on vaults are definitely rare but one of the Canadian juniors competes a Yurchenko full-on with a more simple post-flight so it does happen and is allowed.

Has Valeri Liukin gone? Who is the new coordinator?

Valeri resigned early this year but I’m assuming it was under pressure from USA Gymnastics and not because he wanted to. The new coordinator is Tom Forster, who was named early this summer. They’re still replacing Rhonda Faehn’s role officially but Annie Heffernon has been in her position in the interim.

Why did only seven women compete at the Tokyo World Cup?

Chen Yile of China and Tisha Volleman of the Netherlands both ended up withdrawing prior to the competition and there wasn’t enough time to call up a reserve. I think both were dealing with minor injuries and didn’t want to risk anything at what was a relatively small and insignificant meet for the season.

How possible is a team of Ava Verdeflor, Emma Malabuyo, Kaitlin DeGuzman, Kyla Ross, and Lizzy Leduc going to worlds for the Philippines? Could they contend for a medal?

Well, this team isn’t happening because Lizzy retired and as U.S.-licensed gymnasts, both Emma and Kyla would need change-of-nation requests, which would take up to a year. Also, Ava is in college now and would need to come up with elite routines to meet the requirements. Kaitlin is going to worlds, I believe, as is Corinne Bunagan, who trains at ENA Paramus. If your proposed team was going and they were all operating at the best of their potential under this code, they could maybe challenge for the team final, but a medal would be out of reach.

Could a full-twisting Jaeger be possible?

Yup! It’s possible and has been competed in MAG. Nastia Liukin recently said she was training one but sadly it never worked its way into her routine!

Why did Shilese Jones and Trinity Thomas have different leos from everyone else at Pan Ams? Their necklines were different.

The mesh on their leo was a different color to better match their skin tones. Often with nude mesh, the leo manufacturers will try to match the gymnast’s skin tone rather than having a girl with light skin in dark brown mesh or vice versa.

Why didn’t Konnor McClain compete beam at classics?

I’m honestly still not sure about this. I thought it was bizarre considering it’s her best event and she wasn’t injured, but maybe they just didn’t have a great warmup and decided that since she was already qualified for nationals, they’d just skip it so she wouldn’t have a rough routine and get all worked up or something?

Is Elena Arenas injured?

No, she petitioned back down to Level 10 for this season and competed at a couple of invitationals before going to states, regionals, and nationals, where she placed 12th all-around. She’ll stay at Level 10 until she goes to college.

If gymnasts qualify the individual spots for Tokyo, can they not compete on the team?

No. Gymnasts can qualify the individual spots and still earn spots on the Olympic team, unless they qualify a nominative spot — like at a world cup apparatus final — in which case that spot belongs to them and they wouldn’t need a team spot (but they could always withdraw from that spot, have it go to the reserve, and then take a team spot). Gymnasts who help qualify a full team to the Olympics (either at worlds this year or in 2019) can’t qualify an individual spot to worlds, but gymnasts who qualify the team spot or an individual spot have no restrictions in terms of being named to team or individual spots in the Olympic year.

In Tisha Volleman’s floor routine at Euros, she had a bent leg on her L turn. Is this another group of turns or was it a poorly executed L turn?

This is called a front attitude turn. There is no ‘L turn’ in the code of points…the L turn falls under the “full pirouette with leg at horizontal” element, so it doesn’t matter what kind of turn a gymnast is doing with her leg at horizontal — it’s considered the same. Doing a front attitude is credited the same as an L turn.

Has any woman ever competed a front triple full on floor? How about a front full on beam? Is it possible?

I’ve never seen a front triple full from a woman on floor, but it’s definitely possible and I hope we see one someday! I know a couple of gymnasts have trained them. A front full on beam would take some skill and finesse but it’s definitely possible…just super difficult with the blind landing. A barani (aka front half) is hard enough, so I’d imagine a front full would be a nightmare to land.

What is the best way for Viktoria Komova to make the worlds team this year? They have a solid vault and bars lineup without her. Is she more valuable to the team if she works on being a consistent beam worker or as an all-arounder?

Viktoria didn’t get invited to the worlds selection camp so she stopped training and has ‘retired’ though I assume that means we’ll see her back in like six months. Had she still been in contention, I would’ve kept her for bars and beam, but her vault and floor definitely could’ve been usable if the team really needed it. I think she should’ve continued training all four events but made bars and beam a focus.

Can a gymnast compete an arabian and a standing full in the same beam routine? Has anyone ever done it?

Yes they can, and yes they have! The first one who comes to mind is Claudia Fragapane, who crammed in a bunch of super difficult acro instead of banking on trying to do a ton of connections, which is smart as connections aren’t always credited by judges.

Since UIC is ending their gym programs after this season, they said they’d honor scholarships for those with eligibility left (or let them transfer). What about the girls who were committed to start in the 2019-2020 season? Is it too late for them to look for spots at other schools?

They’re out of luck, sadly. It’s not too late for them to look for spots at other programs, but it’s definitely tough as many schools have made their decisions already and have rosters set. Thankfully they only had two gymnasts set for next season, so it won’t be like a wave of gymnasts coming out and looking for spots, and I’m sure both will have luck finding someone to take them in…while most programs do get filled up pretty quickly, injuries happen, athletes change their minds, and something generally works out. I remember a couple of years ago an athlete from New Zealand decided pretty last-minute that she wanted to do NCAA, so she had her coach put some feelers out and within a couple of weeks she had a spot at SEMO, where she started her collegiate career just a month later! It’s possible and hopefully neither of the 2019-2020 UIC commits give up hope and find someone to take them in.

Is catching a flight element with bent arms a deduction?

Yes it is. Depending on the severity of the elbow bend, it could be anywhere from 0.1-0.3 usually. I don’t think anyone catches so poorly that they’d get half a point off, but maybe this would apply to some elites from smaller programs without great bars basics.

Since Aly Raisman’s boyfriend just signed with a Canadian hockey team can we call that enough of a connection to Canada that she can switch nationalities and compete for them?

Hahaha, no. KEEP DREAMING, CANADA. I think she’d need to marry him or get a job there or something. But I’m sure the Canadian federation would jump through hoops pushing her citizenship change forward if it meant she’d compete for them.

Is Maile O’Keefe out for the rest of the season? She’s not on the roster for the U.S. Classic.

Yes. She had a wrist injury this year and rather than push through it, she decided it was best to hold off and wait until next season when completely healthy so she wouldn’t make things worse. Smart, especially because it allows her to kind of fine-tune everything and work on upgrades.

Why does Maggie Nichols land with one foot in front of the other?

She always had some sort of knee or ankle injury and it made the hard landings easier for her to take. Rather than going for a stick and potentially getting injured, she took the deduction for landing with her feet apart and stayed healthier this way.

Which gymnasts have gone on to perform with Cirque du Soleil?

A bunch! Someone high profile and kind of recent was Marissa King, who competed on the 2008 Olympic team for Great Britain before going to the University of Florida. She joined Cirque shortly after graduating from UF, and is still a cast member today…I believe she was in Amaluna and is moving to Alegria. For more about how gymnasts and athletes can transition to becoming cast members in Cirque, you should check out Dvora Meyers’ article on Deadspin!

Can you name the floor music used by Pierina Cedres of Uruguay at Pan Ams this year? Who has performed it before?

It’s Ruslana’s “Wild Dances” which was Jordyn Wieber’s music in 2011-2012.

Is this a full-twisting double tuck or a double double?

It’s a full-twisting double tuck, or what we’d call a full-in as the twist is in the first flip.

Do you think Jia Fangfang has a realistic shot at switching from power tumbling to artistic gymnastics? Have any notable gymnasts from other disciplines successfully made the switch?

I think she can, and it’s smart of the Chinese program to put resources into helping her make the switch when they really need powerful gymnasts right now, as floor is a big problem for them at the moment. She’s only a few months into the switch, but her tumbling is super strong and clean…they just have to really work with her on musicality and performance, something artistic kids grow up doing and perfecting, but it can be super hard for someone without that artistic background to pick up later in life. Give her some time, though, and I’m sure she’ll get it!

As for other disciplines, a couple have made the switch, but no one super successfully that I can think of. A few years ago, Elisabet Vasileva of Bulgaria transitioned from rhythmic to artistic, and her spins on beam were insaaaane, but when she became a senior in 2016 she began struggling with several injuries and was never able to make it work. A few months ago, she said she was dealing with weight gain that happened during one of her recoveries and said it kept her from training, but she’s looking really good right now and is back training so hopefully we’ll see her again someday.

Where’s Gabby Perea?

She got injured while training this summer (I forgot what the injury was but she tore something in her knee/femur on a hurdle while training vault) and unfortunately just isn’t ready to come back to competition. She was planning on petitioning to nationals just for bars, but that would have been a big push and she just wasn’t able to make it happen. I heard she might also try to petition to the worlds camp, also just for bars, but at this point I think it’s best for her to just recover and come back next year.

Since Giorgia Villa won gold over Ksenia Klimenko at Euros, do you think she’ll be able to win something big at YOGs?

Yes, absolutely! Giorgia has a bit more difficulty than Ksenia and is the stronger of the two right now, but Ksenia has generally been a bit more consistent on beam and floor, so the points Giorgia picks up on vault and bars might not carry her through to the end of the meet if she makes mistakes on the latter two but Ksenia hits. If both have a superb meet, Giorgia has the edge, but it could go either way between them…and I’d say Anastasia Bachynska, Amelie Morgan, and Tang Xijing will also be in the mix for gold this year.

Are there any updates on Olivia Cimpian and Laura Jurca? Are they both coming back to Romania?

Olivia is back in Romania training and hoping to compete for them internationally, but as far as I know, Laura is still living and training in Germany. I don’t think Laura wants to compete for Germany, and I think she’s just kind of low-key training right now rather than hoping for something big in the future. She mostly just sticks to the Bundesliga meets competing for her club team, though I’d imagine Romania would welcome her back if she expressed interest.

How did the Fran Sepler investigation get to McKayla Maorney in 2015? She was no longer competing at the time. Sarah Jantzi overheard the conversation between Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman so they were later ‘interviewed’ by Fran, but why was McKayla the third athlete?

When Aly had her interview, she didn’t realize at first that something was wrong, but then had a sudden flashback to 2011 worlds where McKayla was in the car with her in Tokyo and mentioned something about Nassar touching her. It was brushed off in that moment (I believe Alicia Sacramone said something like “it’s just a normal treatment” and everyone else kind of ignored her and forgot about it) but four years later when confronted with the Sepler investigation, Aly remembered what McKayla said and after her interview, she called Fran and Steve Penny I believe, and told them that they needed to get in touch with McKayla right away. Steve texted the Maroneys and set up an interview then based on Aly’s information. I believe Rhonda Faehn had some texts about this in her documentation at the senate hearing earlier this summer but yeah, the McKayla info came out thanks to Aly, which is why she was the third athlete questioned even though she was no longer competing.

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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43 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Re: Vika retiring. She made an instagram post literally today saying something along the lines of “I’m back!”

    Vika is totally becoming Ponor 2.0 LOL

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  2. For the UCLA question, when you say ” When Jay Clark was forced to resign from Georgia, incoming gymnasts were annoyed but stayed, and ended up loving working with Dana Duckworth, and I think the only recruit they lost was Lexie Priessman.” – do you mean Danna Durante rather than Duckworth? Or did Dana Duckworth work at Georgia for a period, and it flew past my radar?

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        • The seven gymnasts in contention are Melnikova, Simakova, Alexeeva, Akhaimova, Mustafina, Perebinosova and Iliankova and Spiridonova (who apparently has made progress in restoring her bar routine from 2015-2016). The nominative worlds team is the first 6, no named alternate but they mentioned that Iliankova and Spiridonova are still in contention and the team will be decided based on pre-worlds training camps.

          Like

  3. Regarding UIC’s 2019-2020 commits, one of them (Payton Murphy) has already switched her commitment to Western Michigan, which is good news for her! It would kind of stink for UIC if they do end up getting to keep their team, though, because she would have been a big recruit for them (she finished top 10 on floor at JO nationals this year).

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  4. Pingback: You Asked, The Gymternet Answered | species specific

  5. Years ago Tisha Volleman made a video about wanting to have the bent-L-leap named after her if she can. Maybe she wants the same with the bent-L-turn?

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  6. Did Alicia Sacramone go to worlds while she was competing at Brown? And Mohini Bhardwaj made the Wolds team right after her senior year, so that’s also kind of similar.

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    • Like Bhardwaj, I think Anna Li also made the Worlds team right after her senior year (as alternate). Bhardwaj is also notable in that she made a World Championship team both before and after going to college (1997 and 2001). As well as qualifying to Olympic Trials before and after college (1996 and 2004).

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Not as recent as Caquatto, but Alicia Sacramone also competed for both NCAA and USAG for 1 year. And of course Kelly Garrison-Steves did it in the 80s.
    Isn’t the full-twisting Jaeger named after Valeri Liukin? Of course, he did it in layout position (not sure from what grip).

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  8. I think the question on the qualifications format might be referring to the alternating competitors from each team rolling out this year.

    Also, the FIG information from this past summer has said that Worlds team members that earn the Olympic spot can earn non-nominative spots but not nominative ones, which is about the most ridiculous nonsense I’ve ever heard.

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  9. Regarding Jia Fangfang, she really does not need to switch. She can compete in both disciplines. She has FIG license in both AG and TT.
    As for notable switches, Marina Goryunova, one of the original Elvira Saadi girls from the Soviet documentary “Are you going to the ball?” and Moscow Dynamo training tape (OK, and Batumi 1987 videos) who retired from gymnastics after 1995 Universiad, came back as a trampoline gymnast for the USA about 15 years later and won a bronze medal in women’s team double mini at Birmingham Worlds 2011 (under her married name Moskalenko). She still has a valid FIG license (and is of same age as Chusovitina).
    Also, Laura Svilpaite from Lithuania competed in both AG and tumbling as a junior.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s awesome that Fangfang can do both! And I had no idea Laura Svilpaite used to tumble. I loved her in artistic. There is a Namibian new senior right now, Carane van Zyl, who does both T&T and WAG but I haven’t seen her compete yet this year so not sure if she retired from one or both.

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  10. Does the last answer not out Sacramone as someone who recieved Nassars “treatments” ? As far as I know she hasn’t said anything publicly…

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    • No, she said she never had that “treatment”…Aly and McKayla both said in various interviews that she told McKayla she was being over-dramatic about something that was “just a treatment” but Alicia herself never had it done.

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      • oh yikes…that’s messy…I’m aware that some people who initially said they were not abused have since come forward. And more people didn’t realise for some time that it wasn’t a legitimate treatment, obviously just want people who haven’t chosen to come forward to have their privacy respected.

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