You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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Simone Biles

It’s time for the 241st 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.

I’m a new patreon member and have a question! What will Simone Biles’ D score be on bars if she connected all of her elements? Would she be able to compete for gold then?

Thank you for your support!! If Simone did a routine that featured a Weiler half to Maloney to Tkachev to toe full to Church to Pak to van Leeuwen and then a Fabrichnova dismount, she’d get a total of 0.9 in CV which would make her total D score a 6.5, which is three tenths more than she gets now. She connects NEARLY everything now, so it’s pretty close, but she casts after her Tkachev and then again after her Pak to kind of make sure things are kept under control. Connecting the Tkachev to the toe full would add an extra tenth and connecting the Pak to the van Leeuwen would add two tenths, so that’s the difference between her current routine and a fully-connected routine.

Is Sydney Townsend still with the University of Michigan? She’s listed on their roster but doesn’t appear in videos or updates. Is she unable to compete until her court date?

I believe any student facing legal issues/criminal charges has to kind of pause their careers while they’re dealing with it. Since she’s technically a victim in this situation given the power dynamic that exists between a coach and an athlete, I’m sure she’ll end up not being charged, especially since this is likely a first offense and I believe it’s a misdemeanor anyway. Assuming all of this works out, there’s little the school could do, and if they do take action against her, especially in the current climate, ESPECIALLY in Michigan, it would reflect pretty poorly on the university’s athletic department. I hope she’s just taking a backseat right now and will be back eventually.

On individual qualifications…what if the same gymnast tops more than one final apparatus standings at world cups, but they still have to advance four gymnasts? Would one gymnast take up two spots so there would be one less place available? How would the second places be split if this isn’t the case?

An individual gymnast is only eligible to win one apparatus world cup series title. If someone wins vault, for example, then she’s considered the world cup series champion on vault and that’s how she qualifies to the Olympics, so even if she goes on to win floor the next day, she would no longer be eligible for the series title and it would go to the next gymnast down the line.

Let’s say Rebeca Andrade continues to rock it at world cups. Brazil is likely to qualify a full team to the Olympics at 2019 worlds, but Andrade will probably be a big part of that effort. Would she consider not competing with the Brazilian team to hold onto her individual spot?

I think most national programs will put the team first because ultimately, the athletes are working for the team, not for themselves. Someone like Rebeca for Brazil or Nina Derwael for Belgium wouldn’t be deciding on their own that they want to go for an individual spot. It’s smart of their programs to put them in the mix this way just in case for whatever reason they end up injured and unable to compete at worlds next year, which would make them also unable to earn an individual spot even if their team doesn’t make it.

For example, if Rebeca wins three vault titles in 2018-2019 and then gets injured, Brazil would go to worlds without her. If they qualify a team, great, now they have a team spot and a potential apparatus spot for Rebeca, and if they don’t qualify a team and only two all-arounders end up qualifying, then they’ll get those two all-around spots from worlds, plus a potential apparatus cup spot from Rebeca. The world cup series is kind of like a backup for someone like Rebeca in that case. She’ll likely be called upon to compete for the team in Stuttgart, because they’d have a harder time qualifying a team without her, and they wouldn’t sacrifice a potential team berth just for one athlete to qualify. Whether put on the team or qualifying some sort of individual spot for herself, Rebeca is almost certainly going to Tokyo one way or another, but the team would be the preferred route for the national program, and they’re going to be the ones making that decision, not Rebeca.

Which country do you think had the best leos at worlds?

Hmmmm…Belgium had some STUNNERS. Nina Derwael’s bars final leo killed me. I also loved all of Canada’s leos, Switzerland’s were gorgeous, Mexico’s were lovely (and I think they’re a ripoff of a UCLA/Rebecca’s Mom leo! hahaha), I love Great Britain’s leos in qualifications, all of China’s were excellent from what I recall, South Africa’s, I loved Raegan Rutty’s (hers also reminded me of a UCLA leo), I liked the U.S. qualifications leo, Jana El Keky of Qatar looked stunning in BOTH of hers, Ukraine’s was beautiful especially from certain angles, Australia’s was really cool…if I had to pick my favorite overall it goes to Belgium because every single leo in that bunch was absolutely perfect but Raegan Rutty’s was a close second, and then probably Great Britain’s.

What happened to Emma Malabuyo?

She had a back injury this summer and thought it would be best to skip out on the season rather than compete while still dealing with injury and recovery. Hopefully she’s doing good now and we’ll see her going up for some teams in 2019!

Can Mexico compete at Pacific Rim Championships?

Yup! Any country that borders the Pacific Ocean is eligible to contend at Pac Rims.

What happened to Viktoria Komova’s Instagram? Did she change handles?

Her original Instagram account was hacked. Her new handle is komova_v_a_36.

Did Irina Alexeeva also represent Russia at T&T worlds?! Was this planned or is Russia not very big in trampoline so they threw her in because she could do some skills?

No! That’s a different Irina Alexeeva, hahaha. The trampoline Irina Alexeeva is 22 and has competed at several world-level events in her career, including 2015 world championships. Artistic gymnasts can’t really just throw themselves into T&T competition because even though they know how to do a good number of the skills done on trampoline, it’s a very different sport with different rules and complicated routine construction.

Does Canada have a chance of qualifying an individual spot for the Olympics? What would be the best way of making this happen?

I think so. They could very easily qualify through the all-around world cups, as they can send gymnasts to these meets who have been on the worlds team, and Canada has had lots of success at these in the past. Sending someone like Ellie Black or Ana Padurariu when she’s back on vault and floor could get them some very high rankings at these meets, and I could see them being in major contention for one of these spots. They could also send a “B team” all-arounder to Pan Ams in 2020, where they’d have an excellent shot given that the overall competition at these meets isn’t very strong. Two all-arounders (not part of worlds teams) are able to earn spots here, with one potentially going to the U.S., but if the U.S. earns apparatus and all-around world cup spots, that leaves two non-U.S. spots open at Pan Ams. Canada is probably second most-likely to earn a continental spot behind the U.S. so I think they could get one either way, but yes, Canada could very well be a top threat for an all-around world cup spot as well as a continental spot.

Is it possible for one country to get eight Olympic spots? The U.S. already has four. What if they won all the apparatus spots at the world cups?

The maximum available spots for nations that qualify a full team is six (four team spots plus two individual spots) while the maximum available for nations without a full team is seven (one all-around and three event medals at worlds, one continental, one apparatus world cup, and one all-around world cup, I believe, though it’s almost 100% unlikely that any non-team country will make this happen because if they had that depth, they would’ve just qualified a full team). If one country wins all four apparatus titles at the world cups, only one will be eligible to earn an individual Olympic spot this way, with the tie broken by score…so basically if you have high-scoring vault and bars sets, you’re going to win out over someone doing the lower-scoring beam and floor.

Thank you for your posts! I am still utterly confused by the individual qualification process for 2020. Do you think Ashton Locklear would go for an individual spot on the 2020 team? If she isn’t able to participate in the world cup series, is there a point of her still training?

Based on USA Gymnastics’ rules for sending athletes to the apparatus world cups, Ashton isn’t eligible to attempt to qualify an individual nominative spot, and she likely also wouldn’t be added to a four-person team in 2020 given that she competes only two events. Her best shot would be to fight for a non-nominative individual spot. If the U.S. qualifies an all-around world cup spot or a continental spot, this spot would be non-nominative and could go to any athlete at the U.S. program’s discretion. It will likely be another all-arounder, especially if someone like Jade Carey gets a nominative spot and decides to only compete one or two events, but if Ashton comes in with an unbeatable bars set in 2020, they could very well choose Ashton for the non-nominative spot and send her just for bars.

Since Jade Carey didn’t win vault or floor in Cottbus, isn’t she out of luck to qualify an individual spot per USAG’s rules? Or do we disregard those because USAG might get decertified anyway?

No, the rule isn’t that she has to win the event, but I believe she has to place in the top three. She also gets three chances to do this before they stop paying for her trips, but since she was second on vault in Cottbus, she’s fine and the U.S. program will continue sending her.

Why didn’t we see more skills submitted at worlds this year?

Usually between 5-10 is average, so it didn’t seem like a low amount this year compared to other years. Generally submitting a skill isn’t a high priority for most athletes, especially if the skill makes their routines troublesome. If you’re on the U.S. team and have a new skill that’s risky in your routine, they’re not going to prioritize that when the priority is hitting routines and getting high scores. The same goes for most nations that are trying to qualify to team finals or whatever. If someone has a new skill that’s pretty flawless and doesn’t disrupt the path to the end goal, cool, but it’s kind of last priority unless you know you’re not going to be up for a final and just want to do it for the sake of getting it named, which is why most of the newly submitted skills tend to be from gymnasts from smaller programs.

Is Grace Quinn at Cal on scholarship or as a walk-on? Why has she been MIA?

I believe she is on scholarship…they had four scholarship spots this season, and I believe they went to Maya Bordas, Talitha Jones, Milan Clausi, and Grace. They also have former British elite Abigail Solari, but British gymnasts sometimes come on under different terms with grants rather than legit NCAA scholarships. Grace was injured for a while and retired from elite, but she competed at a couple of level 10 meets this year.

If Jordan Chiles is signing her letter of intent now, does it mean she enters UCLA for the 2019-2020 school year, or does she enter in 2020 for the 2020-2021 season?

Jordan signed her letter for the 2019-2020 season, but if she wants to attempt to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, she’ll probably defer for a year which isn’t unusual. Many gymnasts who technically should’ve joined in the 2015-2016 class last quad ended up pushing it back a year so they could go through the Olympic trials process.

Why didn’t we see Kayla Williams on floor at Alabama? She had such huge tumbling! Did she ever compete this event in college?

She only ever competed vault and beam in college. I’m not sure what the reasoning was behind this initially, possibly because she just wasn’t going to make the lineups as an underclassman, but in 2014 she was training on floor when she got injured and had to miss that season, so for her senior year it was a no-go for sure.

I get that this is the most frivolous thing ever to be concerned about with decertification, but what will it mean for the USA Gymnastics YouTube channel?

Hahaha…I mean, if they don’t take it down, it should live on!

Things are looking pretty dire for Michigan right now. They graduated a strong leadoff all-arounder in Brianna Brown, a strong anchor in Paige Zaziski, and Lauren Marinez’s solid beam and floor, and now with Syd Townsend’s legal drama and Polina Shchennikova retiring they are losing even more. Aside from those girls, there are only three who competed at regionals last year. How can Michigan move forward?

They have a solid freshman class so while this might be a rebuilding year and might not be their best season ever, their freshmen are very talented and could eventually turn the program around. Natalie Wojcik should be one of the top level 10 recruits this season and could end up anchoring pretty much every event, and they also have Olivia Karas coming back to cover them on several events. It’s a lot of changes to get used to, so again, I don’t expect a dynamite 2019, but I think they have the foundations of a strong future, and hopefully they’ll bring on some walk-ons for backup next year since depth is an issue.

Do you think Trinity Thomas could be up there with Maggie Nichols in terms of NCAA amazingness dominance?

Yes! I think Trinity will be awesome. She’s so clean on every single event and if she looks as good as she did in elite, she’ll easily be in the 9.95 range on every event. I think she’ll definitely be close to Maggie’s level, and even if she doesn’t start off getting 10s on everything at every meet, I think eventually she’ll be right up there.

I read a tweet that said Chinese bar workers end up in a dead hang when they do a low to high transition. I’ve never noticed that. Is it a thing?

Hmm, I’ve never noticed it as being like REALLY bad, occasionally they have to muscle up a bit out of a van Leeuwen or similar type of skill into the subsequent cast handstand, but it’s never so bad that they legitimately dead hang. I think it’s actually more rare to see someone NOT muscle up out of a low-to-high transition handstand, especially one with a half turn, because the momentum has you wanting to continue your swing forward, but you kind of have to pull back on that a bit to cast and that doesn’t end up looking super fluid for a majority of gymnasts, though obviously there are some out there who cover it up well.

How can people count the number of flips and twists so easily? Are there any tips or tricks to count twists or is it something most people can just do?

Flips are easier to count because you can see the body rotating over itself, so you know obviously if their head is upside down that’s halfway, and then if it comes right-side up again that’s a single rotation, and then another head down is another half, and head up again means two rotations…and generally you only see flips in rotations of singles or doubles so there’s really not that much to figure out. Twists are harder to do because if you don’t have a trained eye for them, that lateral rotation is much harder to see because the body flips that way much faster than it flips upside down. Again, if you watch the head, it becomes easier…they’re spotting twists and so if you see their face rotate toward you a certain number of times that’s how many twists are completed, but as someone who live blogs meets regularly, if I’m not watching super closely or don’t catch the very beginning of a skill, I sometimes have to question if I just saw two or three twists. At some point you don’t even have to “count” the twists, you just end up knowing what a double looks like compared to a triple, but then you can get a bit lazy because if someone always does a triple, you end up barely watching and just assuming it was a triple, but then in that one particular routine she ends up balking and doing just a double, haha. Sometimes when Grace McCallum would go back and forth between her double double and her full-in on floor, I would just look at the beginning and see the rotation and write down double double, and then they’d play it again in the replay and I’d see a full-in and it would always throw me off. You try to catch everything you possibly can, but with so much going on, you end up checking out once you see the beginning or end of a skill, and you just assume it’s what it’s “supposed” to be but then they TRICK YOU and do something different!

Does connecting a front handspring or front aerial to a side aerial get a connection bonus?

Yup! Both would get 0.2 CV. I can’t recall seeing either of those specifically, but front handsprings into front flips (usually tucks, sometimes pikes) are quite common. Actually, I believe a gymnast at Air Force did a front handspring to front aerial last season…Tyler Davis maybe? Front series are more rare because sometimes they end up not looking super connected so judges will take them away from you, or if you’re going for a front handspring but end up doing a walkover, they’ll give you the A + D instead of the B + D, so you wouldn’t get the CV.

Do you think Miss Val would be a great choice for national team coordinator? And then Jordyn Wieber can be the head coach at UCLA!

That could be cool. I think Tom Forster is doing fine right now, though. The girls really like him and they deserve consistency and the ability to decide for themselves who they want to lead them, so if they want Tom – which they do – they should get some say in that and thus the best thing for them right now would be to keep him. Maybe someday, though! With Miss Val leaving UCLA obviously a lot of people are wondering if she’ll take over the national program, and then of course people are also wondering if Jordyn will take over the head coach job, but I don’t think either thing will happen yet.

Will Madison Kocian compete in the all-around this year?

I’m not sure! I haven’t seen her training all four events so I don’t know, but I can see her being eased into the all-around by the end of the season, especially if she becomes a regular on bars, beam, and floor. Might as well throw her in on vault as well!

Can a beam acro series be a forward one? Has anyone ever done one?

Yup! Lots have. The Chinese gymnasts tend to have really nice front acro series, like Liu Tingting with her front handspring to front tuck, which is generally really fluid. Brooklyn Moors also has a really fabulous front aerial to front tuck right now. Front series are really hard to connect and many girls who do them will lose the connection if it’s not quick enough, and Brooklyn’s started out like that, but now it’s so consistently quick and fluid, it looks fantastic.

Did Jessica Lopez retire? The FIG site says she’s active but she hasn’t competed in over two years.

Nope! She’s still going. She was planning on returning to competition this year, but she did a reality competition show in Venezuela and I believe got a minor injury there which derailed her training plans and left her unable to come to world championships, but hopefully we’ll see her back and healthy next year!

What are your thoughts on Alexa Moreno? Could she be a floor specialist?

I love Alexa and was so so so happy to see her win an event medal at worlds this year. Her floor is good, and she has a lot of strong qualities there, but she’d need major upgrades to make that happen. She does a decent job with her current routine, but she has a lot of spots to clean up and then also needs upgrades on top of it, so I don’t know if we’ll see it happening, especially not like, in the next couple of years or in time for Tokyo or whatever. But hopefully someday!

Do you know why Alyona Shchennikova is in Russia and appears to be training? Do you think she’ll try to compete for them?

I don’t think she’ll be competing for them but her family is Russian so it makes sense that she and her family visit there, and since she is a competitive elite gymnast, she likely finds places to train while traveling so she can stay consistent with her training and not fall behind.

Did Tienna Nguyen end up getting that cool floor turn named after her? I remember there was some ambiguity about whether she competed it properly.

I’m not sure! I only saw the submitted elements list but didn’t see which ones had been accepted or not. It’s a great element so I hope so!

In the 2012 beam final do you know which element(s) Aly Raisman wasn’t credited with until after her appeal?

I could never tell if it was the switch half to back pike or the turn series…those were the two I was questioning at that time because there’s also the layout series that got downgraded in 2015-2016, but they weren’t really doing that until 2013 so it wouldn’t have affected her (at least I don’t think so) in London…at least not as something that I would have questioned. Sometimes even the gymnasts and coaches don’t know what wasn’t credited, so they just submit basically everything as intended and hope the judges reward them…I know Sanne Wevers in Montreal last year was like why the hell was my D score so low, and she basically just inquired about everything, and they explained to her what happened. I think there needs to be some sort of process when a gymnasts expresses the desire to do an inquiry where the judges say “this is what we didn’t credit” so the gymnast knows exactly what they’d be fighting for and whether it would be worth it. Like, with Sanne’s routine last year, they could’ve said “what the hell” and had the judges explain to them and then they could’ve been like “oh yeah, you’re right, my bad, we’re not gonna officially submit an inquiry.”

Thinking about Vanessa Atler, other than the fact of her going pro, wouldn’t she have been great on an NCAA gymnastics team?

YES! I would’ve loved to have seen her on a team.

Can you redshirt if you start the season injured but then come back for the rest of the year, as Emily Schild did at Georgia?

It depends on how much you actually compete. I believe if you compete in more than 30% of the regular season, you’re not eligible, and since a regular season in gymnastics is only usually no more than ten meets, if you compete in three or more meets, you’re not able to redshirt. Last year Emily Schild competed in four regular season meets, so she just missed the cutoff.

Are there any good new seniors in Italy this year?

This year wasn’t the best year for new seniors in Italy…I would say Martina Basile and Sydney Saturnino were the strongest, but Sydney ended up retiring this fall, unfortunately. Martina was kind of B team, but she ended up going to worlds with pretty much everyone else injured, and she had an excellent floor performance, which I was very happy to see from her. 2019 is going to be epic for Italy, though, with Giorgia Villa one of the country’s top gymnasts in history based on what she’s shown so far as a junior, as well as Elisa Iorio and the D’Amato twins, Asia and Alice. These four could literally be the Olympic team in 2020, that’s how great they are.

Why don’t we ever see side flips in gymnastics?

We do! The side somi, done both tucked and piked, is quite common on beam. We also used to see some sideways elements on floor, but there are no double sideways flips currently in the code, and single flips or a side aerial aren’t worth anything so while some gymnasts use them in choreography, they’re not generally used to fulfill tumbling requirements.

Are the new candle mounts dangerous? It seems like they can easily hit their head or break their necks. Why is it worth so much?

I think it’s worth so much because they have to be done very precisely, and it’s also hard to hold the chest stand upright in the correct position for the time required to get it credited…I watched some girls training them in a gym once and they kept falling over backwards so much, which was so funny to me because they look so easy but they’re actually super hard to hold onto! I could see them getting devalued to a C next quad now that everyone’s doing them, but I enjoy them and think they’re fun. I’ve never seen anyone hit their head on one, but they’re not going at a fast enough speed to do much damage…they’re no more dangerous than training back handsprings or Yurchenko vaults.

With the new team format for Tokyo, how do you see the U.S. splitting up the six spots?

I see them taking the four for the team as all-arounders, and then using the individual spots for one all-arounder (who could serve as a backup for the team) and one specialist. At first I thought they may take all six as all-arounders, especially if they had girls like MyKayla Skinner in 2016 who wouldn’t be a frontrunner for a four-person team but who had a solid all-around set and could step in there if needed but could also potentially win an individual event medal…that would be ideal to me. But now that they are sending gymnasts like Jade Carey on the apparatus world cup circuit, they’re about 90% likely to qualify a nominative apparatus spot, though I guess Jade does train all four events now and would technically go to the Olympics as a specialist, but could definitely end up competing all four in prelims just for fun.

What is the lowest qualification ranking to medal in an all-around final? For instance, has anyone who qualified 15th ever ended up on a podium?

Typically the medalists will end up being in at least the top six, especially under the open-ended code of points where it’s difficult to break into the group of medalists and a top contender for a medal who has a fall in prelims will still generally place in the top six because they have the difficulty to make it happen.

However, in the perfect 10 code, a fall would knock a top contender from the top six down into practically not even making the all-around final. The last time a major jump from a low qualifications ranking to the podium in the Olympic Games was 2000, when Liu Xuan of China fell on vault in prelims but then came back with an excellent finals performance in a final where the vault was messed up and nearly everyone else had falls or major errors, and she ended up getting the bronze (technically she placed fourth but she was awarded the bronze medal after they took away Andreea Raducan’s gold). That year, Maria Olaru also got bumped up in the rankings from 10th in prelims to the silver medal, so it was a double year for surprise medalists.

Some similar jumps also happened in 1996 (Simona Amanar went from 12th in prelims to winning the bronze) and 1992 (Tatiana Gutsu missed the all-around final completely when she fell on beam and finished 9th place but they ended up taking Rozalia Galiyeva out in favor of Gutsu, who went on to win the gold), but prior to then it was harder to do because your scores from qualifications carried over into the final, so it was difficult to get over a really rough qualifications. I think the craziest jump before the “new life” rule kicked into gear in 1989 was when Simona Pauca went from 7th in qualifications to winning the bronze in 1984.

Are there any gymnasts besides Gabby Douglas who made it to more than one Olympics but never won any medals other than gold and won at least one of those each time?

A few other gymnasts have won at least one gold (and ONLY gold) at multiple Olympic Games in addition to Gabby. Lyubov Burda of the Soviet Union won team gold in 1968 and 1972, Elvira Saadi of the Soviet Union won team gold in 1972 and 1976, and Deng Linlin of China won team gold in 2008 and beam gold in 2012. Gabby wins for having the most golds and only golds across multiple Olympic Games with a total of three (team and all-around in 2012 and team in 2016).

Do you see Jordyn Wieber going the club route or NCAA as a coach? Do you think she’d have a chance at the UCLA head coach role over the current assistant coaches?

I think she’ll stay involved with what is looking like a beautifully blossoming NCAA coaching career. She is thriving at that level and whether she takes over the head coach role, gets an assistant coach role, or takes over another program at a different school, it seems NCAA coaching is where she belongs and I don’t see her moving to club ownership/coaching anytime soon.

Instead of looking for another place for the U.S. women to train, why don’t they just train at the OTC in Colorado?

I would guess they just don’t have the facilities? With the men there it would make things difficult logistically. I think the women’s program needs its own space because it’s not just the elite program…the Karolyi ranch was nonstop with camps for developmental programs, TOPs camps, J.O. camps, trainings for coaches and judges…it’s constantly in use and so this year, not only has the elite program been disrupted, but every other aspect of the women’s program as well. The elite women could probably have worked out some use of the men’s facilities (though I’d imagine they wouldn’t have bars or a beam which would’ve been a problem, haha) but it’s better for the program as a whole to just get their own place in the long run.

Can you explain what the letters mean in the divisions at J.O. nationals?

Yup! It’s age divisions. They break down nationals into 12 different age divisions, with Junior A being the youngest group and Senior F being the oldest. The age groups vary per year and are broken down to make sure that there aren’t like, 200 11-year-olds and then 50 16-year-olds, so Junior A might be like, gymnasts born within a certain three month period one year, and the next year, it might be gymnasts born within a six month period if there are fewer gymnasts of that age group at that specific time.

This year, the birthdate breakdown was…

Senior F- Before February 27, 2000
Senior E- February 28-August 14, 2000
Senior D- August 15, 2000-January 31, 2001
Senior C- February 1-June 8, 2001
Senior B- June 9-November 4, 2001
Senior A- November 5, 2001-April 14, 2002
Junior F- April 15-September 15, 2002
Junior E- September 16, 2002-January 31, 2003
Junior D- February 1-August 3, 2003
Junior C- August 4, 2003-March 12, 2004
Junior B- March 13-December 12, 2004
Junior A- After December 13, 2004

The 2008 vault final seemed to have so much more depth than the last two. Do you think the vault final will continue to get even weaker going forward with the new team emphasis?

I think in terms of the kinds of vaults that were being done in 2008, we’re still more or less at the same level…like, in 2008 you had two girls doing the Amanar and Cheng combo as the most difficult combination of vaults, and that’s what we saw Simone Biles and Maria Paseka do in Rio. Beyond those two, the vault field was deep because Oksana Chusovitina had a higher level of difficulty, and then Alicia Sacramone was so freaking clean, but it was really only those four who were competitive for the medals. In 2012, there were also four I would’ve considered legit medal threats (five if you include Chuso having a great day), and in 2016, literally any of the eight could’ve gotten the silver or bronze. I think 2016 had the potential to be the closest and most exciting vault final in quite some time, and it also had a CRAZY amount of difficulty, much more than 2008. Going forward, even with many athletes focusing on becoming strong all-arounders to make teams, I think we’re still going to see gymnasts who excel on vault continue to make that a priority. In fact, those who realize they might not make the team as all-arounders could definitely begin focusing MORE on vault than they previously would in the hopes of going as an individual.

With Irina Alexeeva on the Russian national team, does she have to take the salary? Can she keep her eligibility for NCAA?

Nope, she doesn’t have to take it and her eligibility for NCAA isn’t at all compromised!

Are Norah Flatley and Victoria Nguyen still at Chow’s?

Norah is at UCLA now but she was at Chow’s until she went to college. I heard Victoria’s family is back in Texas but I also heard she’s training at Everest so I’m not sure how all of that is working out but she looks good in some of her more recent training videos and I hope we see her back in elite soon!

I was watching J.O. nationals and noticed some gymnasts had a colored circle sticker on their numbers. Mostly red dots, but my friend said she saw a blue. Do you know what those meant?

These were apparently representing graduation years to help college coaches see who is uncommitted for a certain year. Each color represented a different graduation year, so coaches there for recruiting purposes could see someone they liked and quickly know if they were locked down or not.

In the 2001-2005 code, what made it so weird/scores so low? It says the base score was 8.8, so how do you achieve a 10.0 SV?

Basically they lowered the base score compared to previous quads in an effort to make difficulty count for a bit more under the perfect ten code. You could get to a start value of 10 by adding in more difficult elements and connections beyond what was required for the 8.8 base start value, so that was that code’s way of having a kind of D score without actually breaking it down into the two different D and E scores like we do now. It’s kind of similar to NCAA now, though I believe the base score for meeting all requirements in NCAA is 9.5 so obviously it’s easier to build up to a 10 from there than it would be to build up from an 8.8 in the elite code of points back then.

Was Olga Strazheva’s second pass on floor at the 1989 worlds a Thomas salto?

It’s similar in that it’s a roll-out skill, but an actual Thomas salto has 1½ flips with 1½ twists before rolling out whereas Olga only did a half twist into her forward 1½ layout before rolling out. I mean, it’s basically the same, not as difficult, but still risky because if you land it even slightly off, you could break your neck.

Is a Hristakeva vault the same as a Yurchenko half? Does it still exist in today’s FIG code or NCAA? What is the value?

Hmmm I’ve never actually referred to a Hristakeva as a Yurchenko half before but it’s possible! It might have a distinction like half-twist off the table into a front layout or a back layout with a half-twist before landing, but I’m not sure. I just looked in the current code and while the Yurchenko half exists as a legitimate vault you can do in elite, it’s not listed as a named skill any longer.

Could a healthy McKayla Maroney have made the 2016 Olympic team? Was there any need for a vault specialist with Simone Biles there?

I’ve gone back and forth on this before. Given that they made such a fuss about needing bars to be amazing thus leaving MyKayla Skinner off, I’d say no, and given that everyone on the team but Gabby Douglas was basically a lock, would they have left Gabby off the team and said “screw bars!” in favor of McKayla even though they didn’t do the same favor for MyKayla? With McKayla back and in tip-top shape, I don’t know if they would have been able to justify Gabby in the same way, and while it wasn’t necessary to bring a vault specialist, McKayla would’ve been more of a threat for a vault medal than Gabby was for bars. I couldn’t see them taking both McKayla *and* Gabby with the way everyone else looked, since both were more or less specialists in terms of what they’d contribute to the team final, so it would’ve made things just slightly more interesting than they already were but I do think McKayla would’ve been very much considered.

A lot of gym fans say Shawn Johnson should’ve won the all-around in 2008, but Nastia Liukin was way ahead of her. Can you explain how Shawn could’ve made up for those six tenths?

Going into the Olympics, Shawn won nationals and trials, so that’s why everyone was saying Shawn was going to win the title in Beijing even though Nastia wasn’t all that far behind. I think if anything, Shawn was probably a little overscored at home, especially on bars and slightly on floor as well, and I think Nastia also made more mistakes at home which took her scores down considerably so when she went out and had probably the best meet of her career in the Olympic all-around final, it put her right where she needed to be. The two could’ve competed against each other every single day that summer and had a different result every single day, but because Shawn was more of the ‘star’ at home, she became the favorite. It’s not that she “should have won” but rather that she looked most likely to do it based on every competition leading up to the final. It was pretty clear to me in qualifications, though, that she wasn’t scoring quite as well as she did at home, so going into the final I think people knew it was going to be close.

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


43 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. If you buy the “Gabby was good publicity” argument, then McKayla would have gone because she her vault helped the team (over Laurie’s) at least as much as Gabby’s bars and she was also at least as famous as Gabby.


    • Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Gabby getting the vote over MyKayla (or Ashton or anyone really) for “who she was” but justified as being “necessary for bars” would no longer fly if McKayla was there.


  2. For a NOC that does not qualify a team, the maximum of 7 quota places is actually:
    [criteria 3] one from 2019 Worlds All-Around
    [criteria 4] three from 2019 Worlds Event Finals
    [criteria 5] one from 2018/2019/2020 Individual Apparatus World Cup series
    [criteria 6] one from 2020 All-Around World Cup
    [criteria 7] one from 2020 Continental Championships


      • Also it’s technically event finals — if all three medalists on bars qualify either through the team or all-around, then the highest ranked participant in the event final gets the quota spot. Like if 2019 BB were the same as 2018, maybe it would be Sanne Wevers (even though she was #7) because all the other finalists are likely to have been either on a qualifying team (USA, Canada, China) or high enough on the AA qualifying list (e.g. Nina for Belgium).

        Liked by 1 person

    • And it should be noted that to get invited to the 2020 AA World Cup series, that NOC should place among top 12 at 2019 Worlds Team Qualification. To place top 12 and still NOT qualify to the Olympics with the team, for that to happen, at least one of the 2018 Worlds medal winning teams must place outside of top 12. Only this way a NOC can be in top 12 and still not among the 9 that get the team spots at 2019 Worlds.

      Liked by 1 person

    • She got arrested with the assistant coach, Scott Vetere, for having sex in his car, and now he’s no longer with the team and she wasn’t in any of their preview lineups. I believe their court dates are later this month.


    • Clarification to point out the incredible power differential between a gymnast and her coach engaged in a sexual/romantic relationship: the coach 39 years old and married with kids and Sydney is 18. The police report said they were engaged in a “sex act” so probably not “having sex” in the way most people think of that term. He resigned soon after (and if he hadn’t no doubt Michigan would have fired him). Agreed she won’t be prosecuted and hopefully can work through what happened.


  3. Canada also has the option of sending a new senior to 2020 Pan-Ams rather than (or as well as) a B-team all-arounder. For example, Zoe Allaire-Bourgie will be senior in 2020 and if she stays healthy and continues to progress as she has been, she could be a good option to go for the non-nominative extra spot there.

    Liked by 1 person

      • But wouldn’t she be gunning to be on the main team? Canada is tricky to figure out because the only truly balanced all arounder they have is Ellie. I could see Ellie, Brooklyn, Zoe and Shallon being the main team because while they’d have to risk Brooklyn on bars and vault and then possibly Shallon in Beam, they took a similar risk this year at worlds and placed 4th. Technically Ana (if she doesn’t regain AA) and Shallon would be the best choices to go for an individual spot and then put up their top 4 all arounders for the main team, but they don’t seem to be going that route for Shallon or Ana, which to me indicates that both are still strong candidates for the main team at the olympics.


  4. About two or more highest ranking eligible gymnasts on different events from the same country or one gymnast ranking the highest on more than one event at the Individual Apparatus World Cup series Olympic Qualification Ranking list. These situations are not decided chronologically or by breaking ties by scores, but by ranks. All tie breaking procedures can be found here:

    Liked by 1 person

  5. About Andrade and considerations for team or nominative individual spot. If Andrade will be in the BRA team at 2019 Worlds and BRA qualifies, Andrade will automatically become ineligible for individual nominative spot through the Individual Apparatus World Cup series. Unless she were an alternate that did not compete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But will she have qualified her individual spot by 2019 Worlds? In that case, it would actually be her personal decision to decide whether to compete at Worlds and risk losing her nominative spot? (Although in this case I’m sure she would be taken regardless.)


  6. Since you were talking about leos, I have to make a shoutout to BRAZIL. All of their leos were just absolutely gorgeous and so colorful and vibrant. Lots of rainbows and hot pink… I love it.


  7. Hi Lauren,
    I have a question! I’m thinking about to start a german gymnastics blog. Am I allowed to use links to your incredible site?


  8. I must add that the stigma about Chinese dead hangs is 100% true, but it’s referring to toe on shoot to high bar–not shaposhes. Literally every Chinese gymnast who has EVER done a toe on shoot to high bar has gotten stuck in a dead hang. He Kexin, Yang Yilin, Huang Quishang, and the list goes on. Watch the following videos, even the commentators comment on the dead hangs.


    • OH yeah, I didn’t even think about toe shoots, that definitely makes sense…I think it’s a wider problem beyond the Chinese which is so funny because it’s such an ‘easy’ skill compared to many others but I guess any skill that has forward momentum where you have to then swing back to cast up into handstand is going to be harder to make look cute.


    • Agree with the toe shoots. And—
      The Chinese team’s Giengers also tend to end in dead hang

      Most of them this year seem to have a Gienger out of the shaposh to avoid the empty swing, and most of them end up in a dead hang after it.


  9. Regarding counting flips and twists – I think Jessica from GymCastic in one of Doha 2018 Watchalong said that she counts how many times start number flashes while gymnasts is twisting. I’ve started to pay attention to that, especially when watching MAG, and I found it very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Also (I’m working my way through the questions), when the Hristakieva vault was in the code, it had a half turn off the horse into a front layout, basically like an Arabian, rather than a regular Yurchenko half vault, which is a back layout off the horse with a half turn at the end. Kind of like the difference between a Khorkina vault (half turn first, back pike) and a Podkopayeva vault (front pike first, half at the end). At some point, and I’m not sure when, the FIG decided to give up on differentiating when the turns happen on these vaults because it’s not that distinctive and too hard to differentiate. Although I kind of liked the differentiation personally. It’s kind of like the difference on floor between a Biles and a Tamayo.

    Anyway, here is a nice example of Kerri Strug doing the half turn early and the front layout:


    • I mean, it’s highly unlikely that anyone could ever do it because it’s super difficult, but it IS technically possible. I’ve seen a gymnast train back-to-back toe-on Tkachevs and there was a 0% chance she’d ever compete them but physically it’s possible to catch a Tkachev and go right into a toe-on.


  11. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: Luminous beings are we | The Gymternet

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