You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

Screen Shot 2018-11-07 at 6.46.47 PM

Team Australia

It’s time for the 239th 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.

Patreon member here! Just wondering with the qualification process for 2020 with continental championships, where do countries like Australia and New Zealand compete?

Thanks so much for your support! So, this year to qualify a gymnast from Oceania for the Youth Olympic Games, anyone from that region had the opportunity to compete at Australian Championships, which served as both the domestic national championships for Australian gymnasts as well as the continental meet for all gymnasts from Oceania, who competed as guests. In the future, they will have to host an Oceanic Championships for qualifying to the Olympic Games as a continental meet, but since Australia and New Zealand are the only two countries that routinely participate in international competition in Oceania, it’s going to be a VERY small meet, I’m sure…probably just a single-day all-around competition rather than a larger event with team, all-around, and event finals like we see in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

I’m a patron! For individual spot qualifications in Tokyo, what happens if a country with a qualified team is also eligible for more than two individual spots? I can easily imagine that the U.S. will qualify a team in 2018, and can qualify lots of individuals for both nominative and NOC spots. Do the first two individual spots qualified count, and then the others are void? It seems it would be unfair to tie the country’s hands this way. Does the NOC get the option of whichever two it likes, and then athletes from other countries get lucky depending on which it picks?

Thank you so much for supporting the site! SO, this hasn’t really been super clarified yet, at least not in the materials I’ve read. Maybe there’s something out there that close a few of the loopholes, but from what I’ve heard, once a country has sealed up two spots, that’s it, those are their spots. If the U.S. gets a nominative world cup spot and a non-nominative world cup all-around spot, those are the spots they get. If they send an athlete to Pan Ams and she wins the competition and technically qualifies a spot, they won’t be able to take that spot because they have already earned two and they have to go with the first two earned.

I think you’re right in your reasoning that it would be unfair to the other countries, who would essentially just be twiddling their thumbs waiting to see if their athlete gets a spot while the U.S. juggles the decision.

Do you have any idea why the U.S. and other countries didn’t send gymnasts to the YOGs?

The reasoning has varied. In the past, it was because it conflicted with U.S. domestic meets and they didn’t see the point in spending budget for someone like Bailie Key in 2014 to compete against girls she could’ve beaten by 5+ points when the domestic competition was so much stronger and more competitive. Then Martha Karolyi said she didn’t like that there wasn’t a team competition, because her primary objective when choosing international meets was to get team experience for gymnasts who don’t really get that at home. For 2018, the decision had already been made to not send anyone, but Tom Forster has said that he isn’t opposed to the meet and is considering it for 2022.

Which meet is more important, Pac Rims or Pan Ams?

Pan Ams. It’s the continental meet for the American continents. This year it served as the qualifying meet for the Pan Am Games, and in 2020, it will serve as the continental qualifier for the Olympic Games. Pac Rims isn’t on the same level in that sense, it’s more of just a friendly meet for nations located along the Pacific, but it’s often a low-priority meet for many countries that aren’t geographically close to the meet location. The U.S. generally takes it seriously, and will often use it as a test for bigger competitions held that year, so I guess in that sense, it can be very important for some athletes, but in the international realm of prestige, it’s Pan Ams.

How and when does the FIG decide when worlds are held?

There’s a bidding process. Different federations bid for the right to host worlds and have to show that they have the facilities, good accommodations for athletes, the media, and delegations, transportation, and all of the other logistics. It’s pretty expensive to host worlds, and a lot of countries don’t want to do it (or, like the U.S., only want to host in a pre-Olympic year when the sport gets a lot of buzz) so you often see the same federations applying over and over, and the more those federations host, the better equipped they are to host in the future, which is why we see so many repeats (like Great Britain getting London in 2009 and then Glasgow in 2015).

Do you think Becky Downie has a realistic shot at making Tokyo? Could she add a vault with her bars and beam, and then have GB take the risk of only three athletes on floor in qualifications?

I think if she could get her DTY back along with a solid bars and beam, they might be willing to risk only three up in qualifications on floor, because what she’d be able to offer to the team overall would likely be greater than what another all-arounder could add. If the team also has the super strong floor workers, like Amy Tinkler, Claudia Fragapane, and Ellie Downie, then I think a team of these three plus Becky would be awesome and they’d just hope everyone could go out and hit in qualifications. Of course, if they got an injury at qualifications or between qualifications and the team final, they’d be screwed, similar to the Ukrainian men’s situation in Rio…but that’s always a risk for any team that uses a specialist or two, which has been most teams in the past decade.

During the NBC broadcast of Angelina Melnikova’s uneven bars routine during the all-around, Tim Daggett commented that “they need to change that rule; it should not be allowed in women’s gymnastics.” Before that, he’d commented on her releases, and Nastia Liukin had commented about a good handstand. His comment came after she did a half turn on the high bar before doing a full turn and then dismounting. Do you know what he thinks shouldn’t be allowed?

Hmmmm…I’m assuming he means the random half pirouette that some gymnasts like Angelina use to get their direction back. It’s mostly just lazy routine construction…she does her Jaeger at the end of her routine and it leaves her facing the wrong way to dismount, so she does a simple half pirouette to get back in the direction she wants and it’s not a skill that counts or anything, it’s just a random directional change that could be avoided if her routine was constructed in a way that had her last skill end up facing the correct direction for the dismount. Daria Spiridonova had a similar (identical, actually, IIRC) routine to Melnikova’s, but her half turn at the end looked much better and more in control than Melnikova’s, like it was part of the routine and not just an “I need to turn around” moment, so that’s probably the difference…but I do agree that the construction is lazy.

How is it that Simone Biles was able to come back in such a short amount of time compared to others?

I think she stayed pretty much in perfect shape/condition which made returning to gymnastics shape much easier than gymnasts who lose some of their fitness between the Olympics and trying to come back. Most gymnasts struggle with weight gain when they leave gymnastics because they’re not working out even close to half as much, and they’re more lenient with what and how they’re eating, so coming back often involves a few months of just getting back in shape before they even start training in gymnastics. Simone, though…either she kept up pretty regular workouts or she’s just blessed by the gods. If anything, she got taller and leaned out a little rather than gaining weight and losing muscle, so she was able to come back in an almost better physical condition than when she took a break! That helps a LOT, both in that you don’t have to spend the time getting back in shape and in that you’re not spending time physically getting your body to relearn air awareness on certain skills.

Why do people give Sam Mikulak such a hard time? Does it have to do strictly with his international performances or are there other factors such as work ethic and attitude?

His work ethic and attitude are INCREDIBLE. I think his lack of consistency in international meets made people think he was unreliable and shouldn’t be on teams even though he has consistently been one of the top gymnasts in the country for the past five years. It seems like he did fine at home but then got to worlds or the Olympics and choked, which sucks, and it happens to some athletes, but people were frustrated that the men’s program kept giving him chances. But it’s not like anyone else was stepping up and becoming more ‘deserving’ of team spots so like…what else were they gonna do? Send a B-team guy who wouldn’t earn close to what Sam was capable of just because he could hit much much simpler routines?

Maybe he needs a sports psychologist, maybe his nerves get the better of him, but I think it’s really unfair to give him so much crap for this. If it is mental, it’s not like he has control over it! That, plus when he did hit and didn’t medal, it’s not like it was his fault. The men’s field is FAR more competitive than the women’s. Simone Biles has no competition, so comparing him to her makes no sense because there are ten other guys out there in the world who could contend for an all-around medal. Sam got fourth place a couple times at worlds this year, with fantastic routines. He had one of the best hit records for the men in Doha this year, and I was thrilled to see his hard work finally pay off with the bronze on high bar.

What would the D score be for this UB routine (for Aliya Mustafina)? Stalder full + Ricna + Pak + Van Leeuwen, stalder half + piked Jaeger, toe full + Mustafina.

I believe it would be a 6.1 (2.0 CR, 3.5 DV, 0.6 CV). The connections would be 0.1 for the stalder full to Ricna, 0.2 for the Ricna to Pak, 0.2 for the Pak to van Leeuwen, and 0.1 for the toe full to Mustafina dismount.

Was the NBC commentary team actually in Doha during world championships or were they commentating from elsewhere?

Nope, they were likely commenting from a booth, I believe in Stamford, which is where we did commentary for the digital streams of the Olympic Games and what the commentators for the world cups also generally do (though I believe the world cup commentators record in a Colorado studio because it’s closer for everyone, they’re always west coast guys). The commentators get access to the international feed and talk about what they’re shown rather than sit in the arena like they do at nationals.

Why is it exhausting to compete all events multiple times in a competition? Don’t they practice every event on a daily basis?

I think most of it is mental and going day to day having to be in top shape in front of judges with hard landings…it’s rough. In practice they mostly do a lot of partial routines, conditioning, endurance training, dismounts into the pit, and so on, so even though they’re putting in 6-8 hour days in the gym, they’re not doing routine after routine day after day. At major competitions like worlds or the Olympics, gymnasts have to train like they’re competing for a week or more, and then the top gymnasts often have to do multiple routines a day for a week straight, like Simone Biles essentially doing four full all-around performances in Doha. It’s super exhausting and hard on the body to be putting that kind of energy into gymnastics. Nastia Liukin once said that the training time in her gym was more than double the training time at the ranch, but at the ranch, it was far more exhausting because they always had to be “on” and competing, which is much tougher than just going through the motions of a practice. It’s the same for actual competitions!

If multiple U.S. gymnasts competed at apparatus world cups on different events, how would they decide who gets the spot?

This is one thing I’m not sure about…if, say, Jade Carey wins the overall vault title, Ashton Locklear wins bars, Kara Eaker wins beam, and MyKayla Skinner comes back and casually wins floor, the country can only get one of those spots (assuming they already have an individual all-around spot and are only eligible to earn one additional spot). I don’t know how they’d determine which one it’d be, and I don’t think there’s anything in the rules that explains it.

What is Angelina Melnikova’s floor music?

It’s a mix of Despacito by Luis Fonsi, Unstoppable by E.S. Posthumus, and Scene D’Amour by Sarah Brightman.

Why would a gymnast get a score of 0 on vault? Some gymnasts who didn’t successfully land vaults in Doha got a 0 but Simone Biles didn’t get this score when she fell in the all-around.

If a gymnast falls on vault and her feet don’t hit first, it’s considered an incomplete exercise and she gets a 0. But if she hits feet first, she gets credit for completing the vault/getting it around, but then just gets the 1 point deduction for the fall. If a gymnast can’t get her feet down first, it’s because she didn’t have the ability to complete the full rotation of the flip. When Simone fell in the all-around, you could see she completed the rotation, but was just too far back on her heels as she was trying to stick it, causing her to then sit it. But when Tisha Volleman vaulted her DTY, her body was basically horizontal when she was coming in to land, and her hands dropped before her feet did, showing that her rotation wasn’t around enough for it to count.

Why did Simone Biles change her leo between vault and bars finals? Have you ever seen someone do this before?

I’ve seen a couple gymnasts change leos between finals…probably just a personal choice, and like, hey, if you have enough leos, why not!? Someone said that the lines going up the sides of her leo for the vault final would emphasize short handstands on bars, so she changed to make any handstand issues less obvious, which is super clever if true. But I know gymnasts who have just opted to change because they simply felt like it. Actually, the Qatari gymnast here, Jana El Keky, changed leos between floor and vault qualifications! And both of her leos were stunning.

Can you recommend a video of gifs that show the skills in the men’s code?

I actually don’t know of any…I wish I did, because I’m always like “wait, what was that again?” for pommels and p-bars but alas. You can do a fairly decent job figuring things out in the illustrated code of points, however…it’s helpful because you can also see the requirements and element groups and everything. I’ve used this to help me a bit, and plan on using it during some off-time later this year to get fully comfortable talking about the events I don’t understand at all (ahem, again, pommels and p-bars).

Would women get deducted on bars if they piked their last giant before the dismount if the way the men do?

Yes, they do. Different rules for what are vastly different events, basically.

Why was Romania allowed two entries in the competition at the 2012 American Cup? Did every other country decline?

I don’t remember the reasoning…but the American Cup back then didn’t have the same rules the world cups have now where the lineup is determined by country finishes at the previous worlds. There were still requirements for who could send gymnasts, but I believe it was a bit different, and I think for that specific competition, someone withdrew and so they offered Romania an alternate spot or something? But yeah, I don’t remember, it was six years ago and everything I wrote during that time that probably explained it is now gone (RIP OG Couch Gymnast).

How do MAG athletes who are in college, like Yul Moldauer, balance elite competition with school?

I talked to Shallon Olsen a little bit about this and she was just kind of like meh, you manage, haha. She said Alabama was on a fall break when she first left for worlds, but after it ended, she missed a lot of class, but it’s college so you’re not usually like, handing in worksheets to a teacher. A lot is done online, so they’re probably still working on assignments and papers and stuff, but submitting them online, and if they have any tests or quizzes or anything they need to be physically present for, they probably just get an extension. It’s pretty well-known in college that athletes have these outside engagements, and the schools are more than helpful at working things out with professors whether the time conflicts are due to NCAA competition or international, so it’s usually not a big issue, but they are definitely studying and doing work on the plane and in the hotel.

Does Ragan Smith get a gold medal for being the Doha alternate? Alternates haven’t received medals in the past. Is Ragan considered a world champion?

Yes she does, and alternates also got medals last quad…Madison Desch got one in 2014 and MyKayla Skinner got one in 2015, and this was also the case in some previous quads as well. They are considered world champions even though they didn’t compete, because the role of alternate is part of the team, so even if they’re not putting up scores, they’re still working with the team, training with them, and standing by if they need to step in. It’s not just Ragan who got one…the alternates on the silver and bronze teams also receive medals.

Is it normal for the alternates to be on the competition floor at worlds?

Yeah. It’s not allowed for the Olympics (the alternates aren’t even allowed into the Athlete’s Village at the Olympic Games), but at worlds, the alternates are generally out there carrying things, helping their teammates with what they need, cheering, and so on. Some alternates opt to wear the leo while others will just wear their warm-ups. With Martha Karolyi, sometimes she had the alternates sit in the stands (like MyKayla Skinner and Brenna Dowell in 2015), but at other times she had them on the floor (like Anna Li in 2011). Every country I saw at worlds that had an alternate with them generally had them on the floor with the team.

Do you know if the U.S. women were all able to have their families attend Doha? Is there financial assistance for them? If families can’t afford it or couldn’t take the whole time away from work, did they require chaperones?

I believe the federation had to pay for one chaperone for every gymnast under 18, but if any additional family members wanted to travel to the competition (or if family members for adult gymnasts, so I believe Simone Biles and Ragan Smith here, wanted to come, they were financially responsible). If parents couldn’t take the time from work and didn’t have anyone else around who could fulfill those responsibilities, I believe USA Gymnastics was working with a group that provided female guardians for minors and the gymnasts and their families could opt to go this route as well. When I was a child actor and went on tour for 3-6 months at a time, my mom could never just leave her job, so I was always assigned a guardian and the rule for us was one guardian per every five minors. I believe for gymnasts competing through USA Gymnastics, it’s more one-on-one if they have a guardian assigned?

What was up with worlds being held in Qatar?

Qatar is huge on becoming known for sports events right now, as they want to host the Olympic Games eventually, and so they’re bidding on basically every international meet they can so they can prove they’re amazing hosts. They host an annual world cup for gymnastics, and do a fantastic job with it, and they also hosted the Asian Games in 2006, so their facilities are excellent and the FIG trusted them to pull it off.

Truly, honestly, aside from weak crowds, they did amazing work for the athletes, their coaches, and delegations. I had personal reservations with the human rights issues within the country itself, both in terms of the country essentially using migrant slave labor as well as the anti-gay and anti-Israeli sentiment and lack of free speech, but I will say that with the eyes of the international sports world upon them, they have to be on their best behavior if they want to keep hosting big competitions like this, and so they went out of their way to make outsiders feel at home, and the people both within the Qatari federation as well as out in the city were incredibly welcoming and friendly. That really just leaves the migrant labor issues for me, but every country has major problems like these (I mean, 1-10-year-old migrant children in the U.S. work in tobacco production for 12 hours a day right now in 2018 and no one’s against the U.S. hosting meets because of these severe human rights violations), and while the exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar should face greater international scrutiny/sanctions, it’s not the kind of thing that would preclude a country from hosting competitions.

Also, hopefully this continued international attention will bring long-term change to Qatar, so I think the positives outweigh the negatives…slash I knew what the negatives were going in and chose to seek out the positives, because there were so many, and my favorite memory in Qatar was seeing a little girl about six years old who trains at Jana El Keky’s gym running around the hallway after Jana competed, squealing about how she wants to go to worlds one day while turning cartwheels all the way out the door. It didn’t look like there were many in the crowds in Doha, but those who were there were SO invested, many of them young children and gymnast hopefuls from Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, and other nearby countries that never get this kind of exposure to the sport and I’m happy that they got to experience the kind of inspiration that kids in the west get with major meets hosted in North America and Europe on a yearly basis. This was HUGE for growing the sport. We have to start somewhere.

Why were 2004-born WAG gymnasts not eligible for the Youth Olympic Games? Two years were eligible in MAG.

I don’t know, I sincerely hate this rule SO much. It especially sucks because 2004-born gymnasts also won’t get to compete at worlds this year, so they’re basically fully out of luck in terms of getting major international experience prior to the Olympic Games in 2020. There will be a junior worlds hosted next year in Hungary, which will allow for gymnasts born in 2004-2005, so I guess that’s cool, but it sucks that they get so little time to prepare as it is, as well as so few chances to qualify for Tokyo compared to older gymnasts, so taking yet one more experience away for pretty much no reason kind of sucks, especially when MAG had two years of eligibility and most other sports had FOUR.

Why don’t more U.S. gymnasts train and compete two vaults?

I think unless they’re super strong vaulters (like, have an Amanar down pretty easily), they don’t consider a second vault because they know it won’t be competitive. Grace McCallum is a great example this year…she started doing the Podkopayeva because she’s working her way up to a Lopez, and a DTY + Lopez combo definitely would’ve gotten a clean vaulter like her into the final, if not in medal contention. But even with two of the most solid vaults in qualifications, the low difficulty caused her to miss the final. A lot of coaches see it as pointless to put in the extra effort to train a second vault when your first isn’t all that competitive, because you’re doing extra work for no reason if you’re not competitive enough for a final. Grace is working her way up to higher difficulty, so it made sense for her, but for other gymnasts with a DTY, they’re like yeah, okay, I have a 5.4 for my main vault while the top vaulters have a 5.8 or higher, there’s no way I’m going to catch up, and so let’s just focus on what we CAN do.

Why didn’t Danusia Francis submit her dismount to be a named element in Doha?

Both of the elements she competes in her dismount (the transverse side aerial and the layout full) are already in the code of points, and you can’t get a combination of two skills named for you, no matter how unique the combination is, unfortunately! They used to allow for combos getting named (like Nastia Liukin with her front toss to scale) but now the rule is that to get a skill named, it must be one single element and Danusia’s transverse side aerial + layout full dismount doesn’t meet that criteria.

If Riley McCusker didn’t fall on beam in qualifications what would her score have been? Would she have beaten Morgan Hurd and made all-around finals?

Well, assuming she just gets the point back for the fall, that would give her a 55.765, which would put her 0.7 behind Morgan. But because she also had a weaker bars set than usual in qualifications, and because she hit both of her routines well in team finals and got actual scores for them making this less hypothetical and “what if,” if we use her team final scores on bars and beam combined with her qualification scores on vault and floor, she’d ALSO get a 55.765, again leaving her 0.7 behind Morgan. I think with a fully hit day, she would’ve come pretty close to Morgan, but as I talked about in my preview (which so many people fought me on for some reason), Morgan has a major edge over Riley on vault and floor, so she was always ‘the favorite’ for me in terms of making the all-around final. Even though Riley got 57s at classics, nationals, and trials, I didn’t see her routines scoring nearly as well at worlds, and think that some of her big domestic scores were more about boosting her confidence than being realistic (which is fine, in my opinion…people get on about domestic overscoring being bad but like…not only does it help boost confidence, it also shows international judges like, hey look, this kid got a 9.5 E on beam because she’s THAT GOOD, and constantly seeing gigantic scores for certain kids gets those judges seeing these kids at worlds and being like “oh yes, this is the really amazing beam worker who always gets huge E scores!” which subconsciously makes them give the benefit of doubt on little technical errors and mistakes…and this is according to MULTIPLE coaches, judges, and national team staff members from around the world).

How does Irina Alexeeva’s coaching situation work? Does she have completely different coaches when she is in the U.S. compared to Russia or does someone travel with her?

At first, she had her coach from WOGA traveling with her…he was there with her at nationals in the spring. But when she was invited to Round Lake and began training there full time, she had to train with the Russian coaches and live at the facility with the rest of the national team. I believe she travels on her own…I talked to her briefly at worlds and she said it took some getting used to in terms of living at Round Lake and being with the national team, but it’s basically the same kind of training otherwise and was easy to acclimate to. Plus, the girls all welcomed her with open arms, which is amazing. I thought there might be some resentment to have a new kid come in and snag team spots, but they all love her a ton!

Why were Ragan Smith and Jordan Chiles added to the U.S. national team?

They both performed well at the world selection meet at camp, meeting the national team requirements that they didn’t meet at national championships. Often gymnasts who have a rough nationals and don’t make the team will eventually be added again once they show improvements. At nationals, they generally don’t take more than the top 6-8 all-around, unless there’s a really strong specialist who gets added into the mix, because chances are no one outside that group will end up being a threat for international teams, but then at camp when some DO become threats, they are added back for meeting that national team standard, which Smith and Chiles did at camp.

Why wouldn’t Kara Eaker take the Jade Carey approach at worlds? Is she now excluded from the 2020 Olympics as a beam specialist?

I’m assuming she and her coaches didn’t really know it was available as an option for her? Or they just preferred to do things this way. Jade’s dad is her coach and clearly has her best interests in mind more than a normal coach might, so knowing she was a true specialist and not an all-arounder (well, not until this year), he obviously went out of his way to learn about all of the available qualification paths and saw that this was her best chance at a guaranteed Olympic spot that the federation couldn’t take away from her. But for Kara and GAGE, the goal was always worlds this year. Kara can’t qualify an individual apparatus spot on her own, but when the country qualifies a non-nominative spot through the all-around world cup, that spot can be given to anyone. If Kara is looking like a medal threat for beam in 2020 but doesn’t have a strong enough all-around program to make the four-person team, they can give the non-nominative spot to her. Helping qualify the U.S. team to Tokyo this year just means she can’t qualify a nominative apparatus spot in the future, but she can still compete as a beam specialist if they decide to give her the non-nominative spot.

Does the team always wait until the last minute to announce the worlds alternate? Did it make it so that the gymnasts were fighting for their spots up until the day of qualifications?

It’s pretty common for most teams who bring an alternate to worlds. Japan, for example, left their alternate at home so they clearly knew what the situation would be coming in, and a few other teams, like France, had alternates with them but knew going in who the five on the team were and who the alternate was…but many other teams waited until they absolutely had to submit a final team (24 hours prior to qualifications) to make the decision, just in case something happened. The U.S. has done this since at least 2010 in team years at worlds…possibly earlier but I can’t remember what the situation was in 2007, I only remember 2010 because Mackenzie Caquatto and Chelsea Davis were both fighting for the last spot but Chelsea got injured and so it automatically went to Mackenzie. In Doha specifically, in addition to the U.S., I know for sure that Austria, China, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, and Ukraine all waited until after podium training before making final decisions.

What are judges doing during podium training at worlds?

Every federation brings a judge with them, and the judges will often watch their team’s routines to give notes and feedback so the team will know what they need to work on and improve going into the competition. Many judges will also watch other country’s routines to get a feel for the competition in general, but I think the biggest priority is helping their teams out.

Apparently there are nine women who have earned world championships medals on every apparatus. I did some research and was able to identify eight of them (Aliya Mustafina, Svetlana Khorkina, Lavinia Milosovici, Yelena Shushunova, Ecaterina Szabo, Ludmilla Tourischeva, Larisa Latynina, and Helena Rakoczy). Can you help me figure out who the ninth is?

Well, now that Simone Biles has done it, there are ten! But the one you’re missing from the nine who did it before Simone was Olga Korbut, who medaled on all four events in 1974 (gold on vault, silver on the other three, and she also got team gold and silver all-around).

Grace McCallum and Kara Eaker were both 15 years old going to worlds, and Riley McCusker and Morgan Hurd weren’t much older. How does Simone Biles manage being on such a young team when she is so much older? Would their immaturity annoy her?

I mean, Simone used to be the immature one on the team, and I know some of the older gymnasts would be frustrated with her being loud and giggling and bouncing around all the time when she was younger and more outgoing so hopefully she has the same understanding for her younger teammates who are like she was at that age now that she has calmed down a bit. I know she used to always make fun of Grandma Aly, but now she’s basically Grandma Simone and it’s her turn to put up with the wee ones. Anyway, you just figure out how to deal with it. I did a touring production of Annie when I was 16 and all of my fellow orphans were between age 6-12 and I was like a big sister to them most of the time, and when I didn’t feel like being the big sister, I just had some alone time and did my own thing. You learn how to handle these things when you spend a lot of time with people.

I’m not that fond of MAG, especially juniors, but during YOGs I watched vault finals and was surprised when I saw Diego Soares get a 9.3 in execution on his DTY. He had a tenth higher than Giorgia Villa, but Villa was way cleaner and her landing was far more controlled. I don’t get it, because DTYs are ‘easier’ in MAG. Is judging looser than in WAG? Also, are MAG judges different from WAG judges?

Yeah, I literally don’t understand MAG scoring on vault. My guess is that they (naturally, because they’re bigger/stronger) get more distance and power than the women, they don’t lose as many tenths for lack of height/distance? But like…why would they compare across the two?! Like, if a woman has to pop four feet off the table to not get any deductions, then a man should have to pop, like, five feet off the table. Instead it’s like, no man ever gets deductions for lack of height/distance while the women get a ton, and it makes no sense. I mean, just watch Ri Se Gwang’s vaults at worlds and tell me how either scored above an 8.5?! At one point at worlds I started over-the-top guessing what the MAG vault scores would be and would yell out “9.3!” for a really crappy vault and then the score would come in as like, 9.266. It’s truly ridiculous and I will never understand. And yes, MAG judges are different from WAG judges, though you can get certified (at least on the lower levels) to judge multiple disciplines if that’s what your heart desires. The federation determines who they send to judge at major international meets, however, and they usually wouldn’t choose the same judge to go for multiple disciplines even if they typically judge more than just WAG or MAG.

Why was Simone Biles dressed differently from the other girls in most of the pictures from worlds? Since she’s sponsored by Nike, does she have to wear their apparel?

Because the national team doesn’t currently have a major sponsor, she was free to wear Nike, as it didn’t conflict with the team’s sponsor (which was Adidas and Under Armour in the past). Had Under Armour still been sponsoring the team, she wouldn’t be able to wear Nike, but this year it was fine, and so she repped her brand while she could, in practices and anywhere off the official floor for competition, which is when she obviously had to wear the U.S. gear with the rest of her team.

Why does the U.S. so often wear pink leos when it’s not one of their national colors? No other countries do this.

Every other country wears leos that don’t fit their national colors. Russia wears purple or magenta in every other competition, and no one cares, but the U.S. wears pink once and everyone freaks out? I don’t get it. They’re the ones wearing the leos and if they want to wear pink, if pink is what makes them happy and comfortable when they perform, if they love pink more than anything in the world and can rock it on a world stage, what’s the big deal? Also the U.S. literally only wore pink this year ONCE in training (they also wore purple and rainbow but for some reason, these aren’t as upsetting as pink I guess). They wore blue for prelims, red (as always) for the team final, and a mix of red, white, and blue for individual finals. Again…I don’t get it. So much stuff is happening in this world and in this sport, and this is what people get upset about?! Anyway, question-asker, to quote the best movie of all time, Mommie Dearest, “I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at the DIRT!” The “why pink leos?!” convo is the dirt. I get it, you’re probably not looking at every single country’s leos and the U.S. is most prominently not dressed head to toe in the U.S. flag at every second of the day, but it’s really not just a U.S. thing. I can’t think of a country that doesn’t opt for colors beyond their own national colors here and there. It makes things fun.

In a hypothetical world where Jade Carey went to worlds for the U.S., who do you think would have made this team?

I think she would’ve replaced Grace McCallum, as Grace was there in the vault/floor role, but Jade is stronger on both so it would’ve been no question between the two (though I think as a super strong all-arounder, Grace would’ve gotten the alternate spot over Ragan Smith in that case). I love Grace, so in this sense, I’m kind of glad Jade is going the way she did, and I love Morgan Hurd winning a medal on floor, which I don’t think would’ve been possible with Jade there, so like…again, thanks Jade, I wanted you at worlds but I also love the things that happened without you there.

Since Becky Downie was on the worlds team this year, does that mean she isn’t able to go to the Olympics as a specialist or she just can’t earn the specialist spot?

Nope. The only gymnasts who competed this year who won’t be eligible to earn apparatus spots in the future are those who were part of the three teams that qualified to Tokyo, aka the United States, Russia, and China. If Becky competes at worlds next year and helps Great Britain qualify a full team to Tokyo, she won’t be eligible to attempt to qualify an individual nominative spot, but this year means nothing for athletes on teams that didn’t already qualify to Tokyo.

Is Isabela Onyshko injured?

She’s dealing with some injuries and has some other stuff going on so she decided to withdraw from the worlds selection process this year.

I’m wondering if athletes, specifically in the U.S., are told beforehand that they’re going to be put on the nominative roster? Or is it a complete surprise?

I believe in the U.S. they are told something like blah blah, we haven’t had the selection meet yet, but based on nationals or the recent camp, this is who we’re bringing, but it’s subject to change and won’t be determined until the final verification. They know they’re in contention, but also know that it’s not set in stone, kind of like when you get accepted to college in the fall of your senior year but you still have to show up and do the work in the spring semester to actually keep your spot.

What is the skill at the beginning of this video called? Double barani? Has anyone ever competed it?

It’s a half-in double back, basically the opposite of an arabian double front (which starts backwards, and then the gymnast does a half twist into the saltos to do two front flips compared to this, which starts forwards, and then the gymnast does a half twist into the saltos to do two back flips). I can’t remember the last time a gymnast has done this on floor, slash I can’t think of anyone who has in the past decade but I’m sure I’m possibly overlooking someone. However, this is basically the dismount Riley McCusker does on bars if that helps you visualize it!

Does the FIG have any say if a gymnast wants to compete for another country if she has citizenship in that country but her current national team won’t release her?

Not really. Some countries have their own rules and even if the FIG approves a transfer, the individual country’s rules – whether through the federation or through the country’s nationality process itself – could hinder it from happening. I know Oksana Chusovitina had a wait before she could start competing for Germany, even though the FIG released her, because the rules in Germany said she had to be living there for a certain amount of time before she could compete…and with Olivia Cimpian last year, the Romanian federation said she had to wait a year before they’d release her even though the FIG approved it and Hungary was waiting, dare I say, hungrily, for her to begin competing for them. Other countries and federations have no rules and don’t make it an issue, but if there are citizenship rules or if federations are refusing to let someone go right away, the FIG can’t really intervene.

What are the weird sock/shoe things Emma Spence wore in the Youth Olympic Games vault final?

They’re gym shoes…a lot of the Canadians wear them, I believe Brooklyn Moors and Ellie Black do as well. They’re very Soviet. Basically, they help a bit with traction and are most often worn on vault and beam. Ellie wears hers on beam, but not on vault, and Emma is the opposite. It’s a personal preference kind of thing.

When will USA Gymnastics put up the elite calendar for 2019?

It’s usually a few months prior to the new year. A tentative calendar is up now.

When was the last time the U.S. hosted artistic world championships?

It was in 2003, when the meet was held in Anaheim. They’ve put in bids a few times since then, but only seem to want a pre-Olympic year worlds which the FIG hasn’t granted so we’ll see if they get it again eventually. I’d say bidding on worlds at this point probably isn’t a priority for USA Gymnastics, though.

How many Olympic, world and world cup medals has Oksana Chusovitina won?

I’m not sure about her world cup medals…I think she has at least 20 titles or something crazy, but overall medals, I’d have to go find the data for the millions of world cups she’s competed in. IT’S A LOT. This year alone, she has four world cup vault titles.

She has 11 world medals (3 with the Soviet Union, 1 with the Unified Team, 5 with Uzbekistan, 2 with Germany) and 2 Olympic medals (1 with the Unified Team and 1 with Germany), and on top of that she also has 12 Asian Games/Asian Championships medals with Uzbekistan, and 4 European Championships medals with Germany.

Would Irina Alexeeva have been a legitimate contender for the U.S. worlds team this year had she been eligible?

Based on how she scored at worlds compared to the American athletes, I don’t think so…with a weaker vault and floor, she would’ve been going for essentially the spot that Riley McCusker ended up getting, and with stronger bars and beam, Riley would’ve beaten her for it, but I’m sure she would’ve been in contention as a solid all-arounder who could go up anywhere if needed, and she probably would’ve been in the mix at the selection camp.

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



72 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Hahaha, Lauren’s response on the pink leo question has me in tears.

    “So much stuff is happening in this world and in this sport, and this is what people get upset about?!” DEAD.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I MEAN!?!?!?! This has been going on for like 10 years now!!! All because Nastia was like “I love pink!” and then the girls after her wanted to wear pink as well and it became a tradition and it’s like, for ten straight years people just whine about pink and it’s like WHY THOUGH. WHY??????? WHY DO WE CARE THIS MUCH ABOUT A COLOR THAT YOUNG LADIES LOVE AND CHOOSE TO WEAR?! It’s going to be the death of me.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Pink leos have been a thing for years. There was a Euros a few years ago where 5 of the top 8 teams wore pink in qualifying. Also the Russians all wore that pink, orange and black leo last year and the Chinese wore a lot of pink and lilac this year In anycase so many teams have red, white and blue as their “flag” colours – USA, Russia, Britain, France, Australia, Iceland, Norway etc etc

          Liked by 1 person

    • In 2014 it got hacked or something weird and all of the posts from like June 2014 and earlier disappeared. 😦 A lot of my earliest work that I wish I could go back and read and laugh about how dumb I was.


  2. Do you think Kara will be given a second chance to compete? There were falls all over the place but for some reason, people have already scratched her from their potential team rosters. I still think she is the best beam worker in the US outside of Simone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • i agree. they would be stupid to write off kara. she’s a beautiful beam worker and qualified second to simone in qualifications. it was also her first international meet, so you have to cut her a bit of slack.


      • The United States is unforgiving with mistakes (at least they were) you fall you are out. I love Kara and I hope she makes it to worlds again but she would have to rock Pan-Ams basically the only international meet the United States will attend next year and place second behind Simone every single time to even get consideration.


    • Second chance? She did FABULOUS at Worlds, minus the fall in event finals. She scored second in prelims and FIRST in team finals on beam. If anything, the US wants her on the team.


  3. That’s savage of Martha to make Brenna sit in the stands for 2015 Worlds. Brenna wasn’t even an alternate, she was an actual team member. Brenna just had a bad day in quals so I guess Martha was like, “NOPE you’re not competing or even going on the floor.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really? It disappeared after the 2008 COP IIRC, they must have added it back? But either way you can’t get a combo named. Maybe they decided a front toss to scale wasn’t a combo?


      • Ok I looked! It is in the code! They have the ‘Liukin’ listed as “Salto fwd tucked, take-off from one leg to stand on one or two feet” (which is so strange because Nastia never did it to two feet). It’s rated a C!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I know THE 90S WERE WILD anyway yes I used to be a musical theater actor until I was 21 and got final callbacks for a movie and a Broadway show at the same time (both Hairspray) but then didn’t book either one so I rage quit dat life and was like I SHALL BECOME A WRITER because that’s a great backup career choice for an actor who fails to transition from child to adult roles.


        • That’s awesome! Hahaha maybe there is?! THE ARTISTRY. I did dance, theater, and gymnastics as a kid and I feel like a lot of the theater kids I was with also did gymnastics…and then when we got to be like 10 or 11 we basically had to pick one because theater started getting really crazy with auditions and gymnastics started getting crazy with meets, so…we all ended up doing what we were best at and for me it was very clearly theater.


        • Yeah, same, haha. I actually did sports as a kid (though I did several plays on the side), until like 7th grade. I eventually started dance and did that for a year until I started tumbling at a local gym. I tumbled for a couple years and then I kinda slinked into the theater world. They coincided for a while but I eventually stopped tumbling. It’s perfect because I love every aspect of performing, and my director will let me/ask me to use my gymnastics/contortion skills in the shows, so it’s the best of both worlds!

          Liked by 1 person

    • Only Akhaimova was on the main team, but is your eligibility for individual qualification affected if your an alternate? Because it makes sense for someone like Akhaimova and Spiridonova to go the individual route but both were at worlds but at different capacities.


      • I think the rule says if you have any scores count toward qualifying a team then you are not eligible. so i guess spiridinova can still go for a nominative individual spot if that’s in their plan…

        as far as jade, i am still wondering what exactly is her strategy/usag for doing all 4 events? just getting her AA practice in case she has to join back to the team in case the individual nomnative route doesn’t work?


        • I saw that too and wondered the same thing. IDK how I feel about her anymore. I get this decision is best for her, but I have so many thoughts about her doing this: such as her getting injured and we lose the spot; or someone else coming up that’s a better medal-contender (but necessarily an AA) being left off b/c Jade took the spot…


  4. Surprised by the Mommie Dearest reference… Do you have a borderline mother by any chance? If so, I can relate and send you lots of love! If not, still sending you lots of love for all your hard work!


  5. All I want in gymnastics right now is for USAG to sort out their crap, Romania to qualify an Olympic team, Canada to become a regular on the medal stand and for Eremina, Komova, Mustafina, Melnikova, Alexeeva, Simakova and Klimenko to be Russia’s A team next year. Any 5 of those 7 at their best would be heavenly.


  6. Hey Lauren, thanks for the great coverage of Worlds!

    Quick question: Are you going to adress the elephant in the room, the move by the US Olympic committee to start the decertification of USA Gymnastics? Or did you write about this somewhere and I missed it?


    • It happened right after this week’s Around the Gymternet was posted. It will definitely be in next week’s if not addressed before. If you go on The Gymternet’s Twitter, Lauren promised two “presents” yesterday so I assume we’re getting some fun posts.


  7. The half-in double back is a D skill in MAG and called a Deferr. I’m curious if WAG would consider it backward tumbling since they consider Arabians forward tumblingb but give it an E difficulty because of the forward entry.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, the way they’ve they’ve chosen to categorize tumbling based on the direction of the salto means they couldn’t consider this forward tumbling even though it feels like it should be. I just hope if it ends up in WAG that it’s at least an E because generating the power to do it through a forward entry definitely makes it more difficult than a regular double back.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I train these into the foam pit at my gym from the trampoline. they are probably harder than a bwds full in but definitely harder than a double front or back tuck. id say it would get an F rating.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Olympic qualification rules as of Sept. 5, 2018 are here:
    All tie-break rules regarding Olympic qualification as of April 19, 2018 are here:
    You also need Individual Apparatus World Cup rules: and AA World Cup rules: to learn how the ties are broken within one competition and how the Olympic Qualification ranking lists work.
    To summarize. A NOC with a team can have only one nominative spot from the IA WCup Series and three highest ranking NOCs in AA WCup Series have one non-nominative spot each. If a NOC already has those two spots, they are not eligible to have a non-nominative spot from continental championships.
    If more than one athlete from the same NOC place highest among eligible athletes on their event at the IA WCup Series, a tie-break procedure applies. The spot of the gymnast that loses the tie-break goes to the next highest placed gymnast (from another NOC). You cannot leave the decision to the NOC with more than one highest placings, because other country needs to know as early as possible if their gymnast qualified or not. For example, if Carey places highest on VT (let’s Chuso be 2nd) and Locklear on UB (let’s Adlerteg be 2nd), UZB and SWE cannot wait what (and when) US decides. The tie is broken immediately so that Chuso and Adlerteg won’t be hanging until US picks their choice. If Carey wins the tie-break, Adlerteg gets the UB spot, if Locklear wins the tie-break, Chuso gets the VT spot.


      • The same principle applies if one athlete places highest in more that one event. For example Carey on VT and FX. There’s still a tie-break procedure Carey vs Carey. The result of the tie-break means nothing for Carey, as she’s in anyway and can compete AA at the Olympics, if she wants, but it means the world to the one who places next to Carey on the event where Carey loses the tie-break to herself, because that gymnast then wins a spot, too (and the one next to Carey on the event where Carey wins tie-break, misses out).

        Liked by 1 person

      • OK, let’s continue to the area that the rules do not cover well. Let’s go back to the case where Carey won the tie-break against Locklear, got the VT spot and UB spot went to Adlerteg. Let’s say Carey gets injured a month to the Olympics to the extent that it is clear she cannot compete. Will Locklear get her spot back now? No! The rules only say, if the quota is not used, it goes to the next eligible gymnast, Chuso in our case. I cannot see how the FIG can take away the spot from Adlerteg which was offered to her through the Swedish NOC. Or can they? Does it depend on how loud the USOC will scream? They have a point when they say that the next eligible gymnast should be Locklear and she should get her spot back over Adlerteg who lost to her and got the spot only because of 1 per NOC rule that is not applicable any more as Carey is out. IMO, the rules as they are written will put Adlerteg in and Locklear out, but that definitely isn’t a fair outcome.


        • What happens in this scenario: It’s April 2020 and Jade has earned a nominative spot and the US has earned a non-nominative AA cup spot. Jade realizes she has a shot at making the team so she gives up her nominative spot. Since the continental champs spots have not been given out yet, can the US still earn a non-nominative spot at PanAms now that they only have one extra spot?


        • Victoria, as per chapter E of qualification rules, confirmation process for quota places, the spot will be lost for the US. The thing is, the FIG will inform the NOCs of their quota places only after the 2020 continental championships have ended. Meaning that, if by the FIG records, the US already has two quota places, the continental quota place will be offered to someone else. See also chapter G. There is no mechanism described in the rules how a country could decline a quota place before it’s officially offered to them.
          This problem with the rules is especially serious in the light of possible injuries. Let’s suppose an athlete wins Cottbus 2018, Melbourne and Baku 2019. By mid-March 2019 they are almost guaranteed to have secured a nominative spot (if someone can reach a tie will be known by March 15 2020 or March 28 2020 at the latest). Anyhow, let’s suppose the athlete has a career ending injury in mid 2019. There is no procedure in the rules how a country could refuse on beforehand a spot which they are going to get, but which they can’t use.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. hehe you mentioned Simone…. She definitely leaned out, she even said so, but getting taller? naw. hehe Lil nugget looks the same height wise. Still the shortest. 🙂


  10. Regarding combo skill, I guess its surprising that they are even considering the nguyen fx turn since its a combo turn?

    Aside from the biles we know any other ones got officially approved?


  11. I am glad pink has seized to be the U.S. national leotard color. Yes all the countries have worn other colours different to their flags but the United States overused the color. I am glad they are varying their options the white leo was gorgeous


  12. sorry, i know this is kinda late, but i would like to know how i can watch the nbc coverage of doha TF and AA and EF with tim and nastia….. I do have a spectrum brighthouse login….. Much appreciated.. thanks…


  13. Pingback: You Asked, The Gymternet Answered — The Gymternet – London

  14. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: You know, Lean Cuisine is not a meal. | The Gymternet

  15. I want to add to your answer of the question why Kara Eaker did not go the individual route. Conveniently for the USA, Jade Carey is the only active eligible athlete thus far, as the USA created the rule that only athletes who won a medal at Worlds or the Olympics may try out for that individual spot. Not to say that someone eligible like Laurie Hernandez can’t try later – but this excludes Kara


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s