It’s time for the 242nd 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.
How do you think Shallon Olsen will fare in NCAA this year?
I think she’s going to do incredibly well for herself in NCAA. With all of the difficulty required in elite, I think it’s hard for MOST people to get killer E scores, but once they bring it down a bit more you can truly see just how tidy and precise they can be. Even in elite, she’s consistent and confident as hell, and she has a tremendous attitude for competition that fits right in with the NCAA vibe. Shallon is still training elite on the side, so she’ll still be working her big skills in the gym pretty regularly and I think she’ll definitely keep several in her routines during the NCAA season, but overall I’m looking forward to also seeing some simpler, more cleaned-up elements. She’s one of the freshmen I’m most excited for this year and I can’t wait to see her debut!
I was just looking at the men’s Bundesliga results and I can’t make heads or tails of how the scores and standings work. Can you please give a breakdown for a total newb?
SO I’m just going to put this out there as a question I’d also like answered because TO ME as someone who follows these meets regularly, who looks at all of the scores and results, who finds every other similar league format simple to understand…I don’t get the men’s Bundesliga AT ALL, and I’ve looked around the league website but there seems to be zero explanation of their scoring system.
If you don’t know anything at all about it, the gist is that rather than meets being won by the FIG scoring system, routines are scored by FIG judges, but then these FIG scores correspond to a points system, which other leagues – like France’s Top 12 league – also do. In France, it’s very easy to figure out that two gymnasts go up against one another in a duel and whoever gets the highest FIG score between the two gets the higher number of points, so a gymnast getting a 14.0 on beam would get 3 points whereas her dueling partner getting a 13.0 on beam would only get 1 point (and if they tie, they each get 2 points). I LOVE this system of transferring FIG points to “real” points, because it doesn’t matter if you have Simone Biles going up against a level 8. Simone getting a 16 on vault compared to a 10-year-old getting an 11.5 on the same event would still just be 3 points for Simone and 1 point for the ten-year-old, so Simone’s team wouldn’t get SO far ahead thanks to this one vault, meaning both teams still have a fighting chance to win a match, which makes things super fun because you often see a lot of close meets in this league even if one team has a ton of elites and the other team is all very young club gymnasts.
Men’s Bundesliga in Germany also works this way but I have been following for two years and still haven’t the slightest clue how their FIG to “real” points transfer works. The results look set up to show duels between individuals on teams, but sometimes both gymnasts in the duel will get real points, other times one gymnast will get 5 points and the other will get 2 points, and often both gymnasts will get a 0. It seems that only hit routines get assigned actual points so if you really mess up or get below a certain E score, you contribute 0 points to the team total, but there doesn’t seem to be any table of which scores correspond to which point values? I’ve seen a routine scoring a 13 getting 4 points and then one rotation later, a routine scoring a 15 will get 0 points.
I’m just as confused as you are, friend. If anyone out there has attended a men’s Bundesliga meet and can tell me exactly how they’re supposed to work, you will fix two years of me being super confused about everything.
In terms of standings, they work like most sports leagues work with teams that win the most being ranked higher than teams that don’t win as much. A team that has zero wins in a season will be at the bottom of the standings whereas a team that wins consistently will be at the top, and everyone else ranks out in the middle. At the end of the season, the top two ranked teams have a final battle to be declared the Bundesliga champion of the season, whereas the third and fourth-ranked teams will have a final battle over bronze.
With the amazing 2003 babies turning senior next year in Italy, do you know if there are more Italian juniors we should know about, from 2004 and beyond?
Yes, there are a few! My FAVORITE is Angela Andreoli, a 2006 baby who reminded me this year of Giorgia Villa back when Giorgia was 12. She’s adorable and has tons of talent so I look forward to her bringing it out in the coming years! I also really like Giulia Cotroneo (2004), Marta Morabito (2005), Micol Minotti (2004), Giulia Messali (2005), and Alessia Federici (2004). None of these girls really has top-notch difficulty or any crazy huge skills at the moment, but they’re pretty much all fab performers with a lot of excellent qualities to their gymnastics and they could be ones to keep an eye on in the future.
Will those who qualified Olympic spots during the world cup apparatus route and all-around route be able to help out the Olympic team in qualifications and finals?
The gymnasts who qualify non-nominative spots through the all-around world cups and continental meets are eligible to make the actual Olympic team (meaning they’ll go as a member of the team, not as an individual) but the gymnasts who qualify nominative spots through the apparatus world cups won’t be eligible to contend for the team because they already have an Olympic spot. Only the four gymnasts named to the team can contribute scores to the team in qualifications and finals. The one or two gymnasts representing the country as individuals have nothing to do with the team or its performance. Their scores only count for their own individual efforts.
If Jade Carey is attempting to go to the Olympics via the world cup route, why does she still say that she hopes to go to 2019 worlds? Wouldn’t that nullify her world cup spot?
Nope. Only gymnasts on the team that qualifies an Olympic spot can’t earn individual spots at the apparatus world cups. The U.S. team qualified in 2018, so only those who contributed scores to the team’s qualification aren’t eligible for the world cups – Simone Biles, Morgan Hurd, Riley McCusker, Grace McCallum, and Kara Eaker. Since Jade wasn’t on the team this year, she can still attempt to qualify at the world cups, and since the U.S. qualified in 2018, they won’t need to qualify in 2019, meaning anyone on the 2019 team who wasn’t on the 2018 team is also eligible for the apparatus world cups.
Do you know if Belgium has any big tumblers coming up to the senior ranks?
No one who really stands out as a huge tumbler right now…they do have some fabulous young floor workers coming up in 2019 and 2020, but no one who is doing anything outstanding in terms of tumbling (so like, no double layouts or triple fulls or anything). Hopefully some will be able to upgrade! I really like Margaux Daveloose and Jade Vansteenkiste as those with promise here.
What is going on with India? Is there going to be a solution for whatever problems caused them to not send anyone to worlds? Is Dipa Karmakar still training?
Yes, it seems just worlds was a problem this year because they changed the team trial requirements without really telling anyone in advance so no one was prepared, but just after worlds they sent several gymnasts to the Cottbus World Cup, including Dipa, who is still training and won the bronze in Cottbus. Honestly, India didn’t *really* need to go to worlds this year, as they weren’t going to make the top 24 as a team, and this year’s worlds offers no chances for Olympic qualification, so it wasn’t a huge loss aside from the athletes just not getting the experience. They still went to the Asian Games, where they had more potential for finals, and they sent gymnasts to a couple of the world cups, so I think they just had a change of heart about worlds and didn’t really care that they didn’t send a team because it wouldn’t have affected them either way in terms of moving on to Tokyo.
With the arrival of the new Italian seniors, what current seniors will be relegated to alternate spots?
I think most who stepped up as B-team girls in the wake of everyone getting injured, aka those who weren’t expected to be leading the team this year either…girls like Martina Basile, Sara Ricciardi, Irene Lanza, Caterina Cereghetti, and so on, as well as some of the girls this year who were A team but not very strong (and who always seem to be injured)…Giada Grisetti, Francesca Linari, Desiree Carofiglio, Martina Rizzelli, Elisa Meneghini, and so on.
Really, thinking about it, I think Lara Mori is the only one who’s pretty much “safe” thanks to floor and a generally solid all-around program (plus a generally decent beam, which has been the weakest point for the 2003 babies generally). A team of the four top new seniors plus Lara could be fantastic at worlds next year.
My biggest question is Martina Maggio…I think if she ever gets healthy again, she could be in the mix up against a couple of the new kids, but it’ll all depend on how everyone looks next year. Who knows, in addition to Martina M., maybe someone like Elisa or Martina R. could come back in top form and be a threat again? Of the new kids, Giorgia Villa and Asia D’Amato seem most likely to be hella productive as seniors, but both Alice D’Amato and Elisa Iorio have been questionable at times so I don’t think either is going to be an automatic for teams if some of the veterans end up being more productive than they were this year. But having followed the Fab Four over the past two years, I kind of want to keep the four of them all together right up to Tokyo because that would be amazing.
I saw Frida Esparza’s performance at worlds and think she was underscored on all events. What do you think about the judging?
I thought so too! I haven’t watched back to see any videos or anything but watching in person I was always surprised at her E scores looking a bit low and think if she was on one of the top teams, she would’ve had at least a few tenths added per routine, and would’ve easily made the all-around final. I always think gymnasts who are newcomers to the international scene are super low-balled compared to those who have either been around longer or who are on big name teams, and think Frida is one of many examples of gymnasts who scores much lower than someone in a different leotard or with a different name would with the exact same routines.
What happened to Charleis Kingston-White? Is she still training in Australia?
I haven’t seen her compete since probably 2015 or so…so I’m not sure if she’s still training or not! According to her Instagram it doesn’t look like she’s doing gymnastics anymore.
If a gymnast on scholarship medically retires and is on medical scholarship, can she ‘go pro’? Will her scholarship be taken away from her if she does?
Well, if she’s no longer competing, “going pro” wouldn’t really be an option because she wouldn’t really get endorsement deals as a non-competing athlete unless she was like Simone Biles or someone huge. But for the sake of argument, let’s say Simone had the career she had until Rio and then decided to go to college rather than go pro, but then she medically retired two years into her collegiate career. As a public figure with a great Olympic record, she might have some opportunities to make money, and I *think* taking advantage of them would mean she’s no longer eligible to receive NCAA scholarship money, even if she’s not actually competing. But I don’t see any rules spelling out this situation exactly, probably because there’s a 0.001% chance of it ever happening.
Can Maggie Nichols accept the MSU settlement money and retain her eligibility?
Yup. Settlement money isn’t related to endorsements.
If you had been the sole judge in Doha, would any of the podium placements have changed?
Hmm, the biggest one for me would be Dominick Cunningham getting on the vault podium in the men’s competition…and I would’ve swapped the order in the men’s team final with Russia on top and China in second.
As for the women, I would *personally* have preferred to see Nina Derwael get on the all-around podium given her incredible performance compared to the three who got on with mistakes, but I recognize her lack of difficulty and don’t think it *should* necessarily be changed under the current code…it’s just my personal opinion that top-notch performances aren’t valued in this sport as much as difficult ones are so it sucks but as a judge, I couldn’t just change the code to get Nina on that podium. I don’t think she was underscored, but rather that the current code doesn’t reward what she did in that performance as much as it rewards high difficulty sets.
Aside from that, there’s nothing else I can think of wanting to change and think generally the podiums were quite fair based on what happened on each event…but if I were the line judge on floor I would have sneezed when Flavia Saraiva went out-of-bounds so she could’ve gotten the bronze. 😉
Is there such a thing as an aerial onodi? A back layout stepout with a half twist? Would it be possible? How difficult would it be?
I feel like I’ve seen one before…I mean, I guess a whip half is kind of an aerial Onodi on floor, in a sense, but I’m trying to remember if I’ve seen some kind of *actual* no-handed Onodi. Not in competition, anyway, but I’ve definitely seen training videos…just googled it and found this, which is really cool, and out of a one-armed back handspring as well which makes it even cooler. Of course it’s badass M’rcy Matsunami in the video. I’d give it an E at least in the elite code.
Do you think Nastia Liukin would have been successful as an all-arounder under the post-2008 codes?
Yup. I wish she got to come back a bit sooner in the 2012 quad and wish she could’ve done the all-around…everyone and their mom having an Amanar that quad would’ve held her back from maybe being in the very top group, but I think she’d still be close enough to be a strong contender. A healthy Nastia with enough training behind her in 2012 probably could have been close to Aly Raisman’s or Jordyn Wieber’s all-around scoring potential…ahead of someone like Kyla Ross but probably not as close to someone like Gabby Douglas or Vika Komova if everyone’s hitting at 100%.
Has anyone ever done a whip on the beam?
Not that I can think of. Since a whip is used like a back handspring (meaning it’s a skill used to build momentum for a later skill), I guess we *could* see a gymnast doing a whip as part of a series…but you’d really need something like a roundoff into it. A roundoff to whip to back layout could be cool. But I don’t think it’s something we’ll really see happen as it wouldn’t be that valuable and therefore not really worth the risk given that it’s more difficult than a back handspring in terms of building momentum.
At their peak, who was a better beam worker – Andreea Munteanu or Maria Kharenkova?
Good question…I’m gonna go with Andreea because I preferred her stylistically. Her team finals routine in 2014 still has me drooling. Maria was fantastic as well and had so much potential…but Andreea was the more complete package in terms of being a true beam worker in my book.
Why aren’t countries which were powerhouses in supplying the USSR team with gymnasts, like Belarus and Ukraine, producing a lot of top gymnasts now?
Well, there’s a HUGE difference between Belarus and Ukraine in terms of what they’re producing in artistic gymnastics. Ukraine has the potential to be a top-16 program (and potentially even top 12 next year), has several all-arounders capable of a 51+ in major international competition, and has a couple of gymnasts with event final potential at Euros and worlds, whereas Belarus can barely field a full team at the senior level and a 49 would be a killer all-around score for their top gymnast on a good day.
But basically, the Soviet Union’s program was always all about Russia; they just happened to have the talent pools from the surrounding region to also pull from, but once the state dissolved, the center of what was once the USSR’s program stayed put and morphed directly into the center of the new Russian program, allowing Russia to grow off of what the Soviets had built while the other former Soviet bloc countries dwindled. The other countries didn’t really have anything like the level of coaching staff and resources Russia had, especially as many former Soviet coaches from those smaller nations moved to the U.S. or elsewhere in the west, so they pretty much had to rebuild from scratch.
Some got lucky in that they had gymnasts who trained with the Soviet program still competing until the late 1990s and even the early 2000s in some cases, which is why Belarus had someone like Elena Piskun winning medals and Ukraine had Lilia Podkopayeva, Viktoria Karpenko, Olga Roschupkina, and a few others getting success at the international level, but today, most of the former Soviet bloc countries have nothing close to what Russia has, in addition to also having vastly smaller populations and less of a national focus on sports. Even in Ukraine, where gymnastics is still a relatively high priority and where they are miles ahead of most other former Soviet bloc countries, the infrastructure, training centers, and resources are a fraction of what the current Russian program has.
Why didn’t Gabby Douglas ever correct her problem of stepping out-of-bounds before a tumbling pass?
A question I’m sure we’d all love to see answered but without asking her, I don’t really know. It seemed almost like a nervous tic. I always wanted to shake her and be like “don’t put your foot behind you!!!!” but it was almost like a compulsion for her to do it, and she always seemed to end up putting it over the line. So frustrating, but I’m sure it was even more frustrating for her than it will ever be for me or you!
Why did China have a meltdown in the London team final? Were they not prepared enough? Why didn’t Sui Lu make floor finals?
I don’t think it’s that they weren’t prepared enough but rather that they had a ton of pressure coming in as the reigning Olympic champions but with a far weaker team than they had in 2008, and with way more difficult competition than they had four years prior. 2008 was theirs to lose, but in 2012, they had to fight Russia and Romania just to get on the podium, and while I think all three teams had an equal chance of making silver or bronze happen behind the Americans, the Chinese seemed to freak out under this pressure more than the other two teams did. All three programs kind of cracked, but China struggled the most in addition to also having more injuries and a weak vault rotation in comparison to the other teams. They started out less able to afford mistakes than Russia and Romania did, so the mistakes they made hurt them more than they would’ve hurt one of the other teams.
As for Lu, her routine in qualifications was okay, but she was super downgraded, getting just a 5.6 D when I think she should’ve been around a 6.0 or higher. I don’t remember what happened, if she wasn’t credited with skills or if she went in with planned downgrades, but either way, the floor field was MUCH tougher in 2012 than it had been the previous year at worlds, so she wasn’t coming in as a huge medal contender despite having won the silver in Tokyo.
If you had a daughter, who would you trust to coach her with everything happening in USAG?
Any coach who has been transparent about their feelings related to the current state of USAG even though they know it could mean getting in trouble for speaking out. Aimee Boorman generally makes her thoughts and opinions well known so I’d be comfortable sending my kid to her, but she’s the most well known example of many, many, many coaches out there who are making it a priority to be as transparent as possible. No coach can fully prevent abuse from happening, just like no teacher or priest or football coach can 100% protect the kids in their care from abuse, so I think less in terms of “who do I want to watch over my kid like a hawk” and more in terms of like “who do I trust will tell me the truth and not BS me and have my kid’s mental and physical well-being as a priority over her career.” Aimee is definitely one of those people, but I can also think of about 12 others off the top of my head – mostly younger women in “the next generation” of top coaches who truly seem more concerned with their athletes than they do about the “image” of the sport.
Do you have any idea what the graduating athletes from the Super Six want to do with their lives now that they’re done with school?
They go on to regular lives like the rest of us. Some will stay involved with gymnastics or sports in general, but many study other things totally unrelated to sports in school and will become teachers, work in finance, go on to grad school, to law school, to med school…literally anything you or I would do after graduating from college with a preferred field or industry in mind.
What do you think of the USAG “downsizing” going on right now?
This question was sent to me at the start of the summer, I believe, when USAG laid off a dozen or so employees in order to consolidate roles within the organization. I thought then that this was in response to upcoming bankruptcy claims and having to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement money, and now that USAG has just announced that they’re filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy and will be structurally reorganizing internally, I think it makes it even more clear why these early layoffs were necessary…though of course if the USOC decertifies them, it’ll all be for naught so we’ll see what happens, but yes, basically it was all about trying to figure out the future of the organization.
What happened to Jennifer Oh?
I’m not sure! I remember watching a feature in the fall of 2017 welcoming her to Washington but then she kind of quickly disappeared from the roster and I’m not sure why or what happened. I don’t really know anyone who knows her, so I can’t even be like “tell me more” but yeah, it was a totally random and weird drop-off considering I thought she would’ve been a freshman standout last season.
Do you think Mai Murakami can maintain a level of difficulty to always challenge for the all-around podium this quad? Could she win a floor medal at Tokyo 2020?
Yes, I think so, in terms of both counts. She has the potential to upgrade, which is awesome, and while I don’t know if she’d be a guaranteed medalist in the all-around or on floor, especially if she has falls or mistakes, she should at least have the ability to challenge against the rest of the international field. I’d love to see her win a medal in Tokyo and think it’s totally possible for her to make it happen.
What do you think is next for Jordyn Wieber?
I think she’ll likely take on an associate coaching position at UCLA once Miss Val leaves. I don’t think she’d be promoted to head coach right away…you never know, but it would be shocking to see a volunteer get the head coaching gig over the other two associate head coaches there right now as well as many potential outside hires who would be up for the job (and who come with decades of experience). I see her staying at UCLA for a while, but could also see her considering a head coaching job at a smaller program if one opens up, and then maybe coming back to UCLA someday when a head coaching gig is once again available.
Is Wang Yan retired?
I believe so, yes. After worlds last year she wanted to retire, but said it was up to the national team program to make the final decision, and then I believe in June of this year, the national team released her. I don’t know if she’s training at the provincial level anymore, but I doubt it…since she wanted to move on, I’d imagine she chose to actually go off to school or do other things rather than continue to train at a provincial gym (compared to Shang Chunsong, who was dismissed from the national team but continued to train at her provincial gym because she wanted to keep going).
Is flexing your feet a deduction for inbars?
Yes it is.
Did Larisa Iordache retire or is she still recovering from injury?
She’s still recovering. I think things were touch and go for a while, and she at one point said she had about a 50% chance of returning, but after Doha she seemed inspired to really focus on coming back and I hope she can make it happen. She’s training again, at least!
I saw Margzetta Frazier is at UCLA. Is she not making a run for Tokyo?
I would imagine no, but she could always continue training elite at UCLA and still attend nationals and potentially trials in 2020 if she’s at a high enough level, or she could take a year off like Brenna Dowell did last quad if Tokyo is really her goal.
Is there a maximum number of gymnasts per country/apparatus at an apparatus world cup? Can a country send as many gymnasts as they’d like?
They can only put up two gymnasts per event in qualifications, so technically I’d assume for WAG they can send up to eight gymnasts and for MAG it would be up to 12, but most countries usually send 4-6 total since most gymnasts do more than one event. Usually the only time you see more than four women is when a host country has a lot of depth and they want to give many gymnasts a chance, like the German team at Cottbus.
In the current code, you can only count a maximum of three root skills. Could you count three stalder skills and three Endo skills?
Yup! Front and back versions of skills are considered different root skills, so someone could do a stalder, a stalder full, and a Ricna, and still be able to count an Endo later in the routine.
Do you think there were any potential standout stars from Great Britain prior to Beth Tweddle?
Hmmm, no one close to her level, but occasionally we’d get someone who looked exciting. Lisa Mason was really good and looked promising back in the 2000 era, for example…she was the first British gymnast I got really excited about as a kid. Lisa won two Commonwealth Games gold medals in 1998, and she was the first British woman to make finals at Euros and worlds, and domestically she was a superstar until Beth came along.
What was your opinion on the Alina Zagitova/Evgenia Medvedeva battle, and who were your favorites in the figure skating events you watched?
I didn’t really watch it and don’t follow figure skating but I love Evgenia based on what I’ve seen of her personality/social media and I know a lot of skating fans would have preferred her to win so I was like cool me too I guess, but yeah…beyond that I have no clue about skating so I won’t expose my ignorance further with opinions I can’t back up!
How often do the Russian gymnasts train at Round Lake? Is the Russian national team set up like the U.S. system or is it centralized?
They’re there pretty much year-round with the exceptions of a few breaks during off parts of the season…usually they get a week or so between Euros and worlds (though this year that was thrown off a bit since the two were so close) and then they get holidays off and such. It’s a centralized system in Russia, so everyone on the national team is training together all the time, though there are many other gyms throughout the country that act as kind of “feeder” gyms into Round Lake, so not everyone starts training at Round Lake when they’re babies. They have regional competitions at all levels and these will determine those who are considered able to compete at nationals, and the smaller regional meets also serve developmental purposes, helping the national staff determine who will come and train at Round Lake.
Why do some gymnasts put one leg then the other for toe-ons rather than both at the same time?
I think it’s just a personal preference, perhaps stylistic, perhaps just because it’s what they grew up doing and it has become a habit, and for some I’ve heard it said that it’s easier for the strain on the low back to do one at a time, but there’s no rule that you have to do both together, so it could be any number of reasons really.
If USAG got decertified between 2019 worlds and the Olympics, would a USOC-directed NGB be able to form and be allowed to send a team even though the 2019 worlds team was competing through USAG?
Yes, it doesn’t really matter what the governing body for the sport is in the U.S. because it all comes under the umbrella of the USOC. If USAG is the governing body in 2019 and a new NGB is formed shortly after, both NGBs will still be operating under the USOC so there shouldn’t be a problem.
Where does Peng Peng Lee rank among the best bar workers of all time? Beam workers? Canadian all-arounders? NCAA bars and beam?
For elite, I don’t know…I wouldn’t consider her one of the best bars or beam workers of all time in elite…she was good on the events but not super finals-worthy at the major international level. Maybe eventually she could’ve gotten there if she didn’t get injured and then go to college, but it’s impossible to say how she COULD have fit in with the best ever. I definitely think she was one of Canada’s most talented gymnasts in their history, and probably one of the best NCAA beam workers as well…potentially also one of the best bar workers but I think her talents were better managed on beam so I don’t know if I consider her one of the best bar workers ever, I just think the routine she had in college worked super well for her.
Are there any flexible power gymnasts?
I’m sure there are in terms of being able to do oversplits and everything, but off the top of my head, there’s no one who was like, rhythmic-levels of flexible. Actually, Peyton Ernst is a good example of someone who is super flexible but was always a bit more muscular in terms of her body type.
What’s up with Abby Paulson?
Nothing’s really “up” with her…she retired from elite, dropped down to level 10 for the 2018 season (though I believe she only competed once, on beam), and she’s committed to Utah for the 2019-2020 NCAA season, so we’ll probably see her doing level 10 again in 2019.
Nia Dennis and Rachael Flam didn’t live up to the hype this season as two of the top incoming freshmen. What do you attribute their issues to? What do you expect from them next season?
Sometimes freshmen who were huge standouts on the elite or level 10 scene get to college and with all of the changes happening around them, their focus ends up being elsewhere. Sometimes gymnasts also struggle with the changes in training…if they grow up in a club gym doing everything a certain way and then everything changes in college, it can be really difficult to transition and be successful in the new environment. Some gymnasts come in as freshmen and look like superstars but others take a bit longer to get used to it, though I think both Nia and Rachael could be the kind of gymnasts who come back as sophomores or juniors and truly crush it despite not coming out on fire right from the start.
Any update on Ashton Locklear’s recovery? Do you know when she’s planning on coming back? Was WCC a good move for her?
I know she’s training but am not sure when she’s planning on coming back. Given how strong Laurent Landi is with coaching bars, I think it was definitely a good move for her on that event, but I don’t know how realistic her future will be since she won’t be able to make a four-person team in 2020 and also hasn’t met the requirements to attend world cups as a specialist for bars. We’ll see.
I’ve noticed that coaches at worlds get team medals. Why?
They’ve done this on and off throughout history. They didn’t do it for a few years but then started up again in 2014 giving medals to coaches and alternates, probably just as a gesture to show appreciation for people who are a crucial part of the team even if they’re not actually contributing scores.
If USAG gets decertified, would the organization have to have a new name?
I don’t know anything about trademarks or copyrights but I’d imagine yes, they’d probably legally have to have a new name. I’m also sure they’d WANT a new name to distance themselves from everything that happened under USAG’s rule.
Anastasia Grishina seems to be the black sheep of Russia’s 2012 team. If you could replace her, who would you pick?
I wanted Anastasia on the team and am happy she went, but I was secretly hoping Tatiana Nabieva would get one of the spots that year so I guess I’d replace her with Nabs even though Nabs would have been all wrong for that particular spot, given that Anastasia was more about beam and floor. Make it work.
Has a gymnast ever competed a full-out off beam?
Not that I can recall…only a handful have ever competed a full-twisting double back in general but I don’t think any of them did the twist in the second flip.
Why are full-outs rarely performed but full-ins are more common?
Full-outs are a bit more difficult, mainly because you’re trying to focus on landing, so getting the twist out of the way in the first flip is much easier than doing a flip, and then twisting and trying to land simultaneously. It can definitely throw you off for the landing, especially on floor, but on bars where you are able to get a bit more height into the dismount and therefore have more time to complete the flips and twist, some gymnasts prefer doing the full-out. Even on bars, the full-in is far more common, though we do see a number of full-outs from some of the stronger gymnasts.
I saw that Annie Beard does school at the gym. How does that work? Does everyone have to attend school after practice?
Texas Dreams has a little school located on site so that gymnasts who might otherwise homeschool in order to fit in both elite gymnastics training and schoolwork can have the option of learning in a classroom with a teacher. The school, which is called the Elite Learning Academy, employs five state-certified teachers who teach various subjects at the second through eighth grade level, and students attend school four hours a day, four days a week. After eighth grade they probably transition to homeschool programs, but I think this is a good compromise for parents who are wary of homeschooling their kids at a young age.
Do you know why Sydney Saturnino of Italy retired?
She actually didn’t give any reasons when she talked about it on Instagram…I think she had a variety of injuries and was just kind of in a “moving on” phase but I don’t think it was anything serious and hope she’s enjoying herself post-retirement!
With bringing four all-arounders on a four-person team in 2020, does it make sense to go off of the result based on Olympic Trials?
Yeah it does…or, you know, a combination of Olympic Trials and everything that comes before it, like nationals and camps and stuff. With how close everyone is right now, someone who looks like a frontrunner all year could have one uncharacteristic fall at trials and finish sixth, but she should still be considered a top option for the team even if she wasn’t top four on that one particular day. I think they’ll take more than just the top four ranking from trials into account, but as it is every Olympic year, it’ll be pretty obvious in the lead-up to the Olympics who makes the most sense to send for the team.
If Maria Paseka wanted to qualify for Tokyo as an individual, does that mean she wouldn’t be able to defend her vault title at worlds this year with the Russians expected to qualify as a full team in Doha?
I’m answering this a bit late but yeah, she was injured anyway so it didn’t matter, but if she had been healthy, she wouldn’t have been eligible to compete at worlds this year to help Russia qualify a team and then also contend for an individual nominative spot through the apparatus world cup circuit. It has to be one or the other.
Why do MAG gymnasts always have the same weird position when landing a dismount or when tumbling on floor (feet apart, hips and knees bent, arms in front)?
It gives them a lower center of gravity and makes it easier for them to hold onto the stick. You’re actually supposed to land tumbling with your hips and knees slightly bent and your feet slightly apart, to better absorb the landing, even though aesthetically it looks “prettier” to have your feet together and your body line more straight. I feel like WAG is more about aesthetic and less about safety in terms of landings sometimes, and this is one of those times.
Did Larry Nassar seem like one of the few ‘good ones’ before everything happened or was there anything that seemed suspect about him but was brushed off?
Pretty much anyone who met him or talked to him had very high opinions of him, myself included. I wasn’t super close with him aside from a few conversations online and in person, but I did find it a bit odd that he used to send me birthday greetings with a million characters and symbols and emojis like, spelling out “happy birthday”…it was like something I’d do when I was 12. I remember sending a screenshot of that to my friend one year and being like “why does Larry write like a child” and we laughed about it but now it feels a bit eerie knowing that he probably talked and typed like a 12-year-old online because that was part of how he groomed children, to be at their level. Again, while I found his messages/way of communicating odd, I wasn’t like “this must mean he abuses children” so that still came as a massive shock and surprise I think to everyone who knew him and found some of his behaviors odd. He was weird at times but extremely well-liked, and his ability to hide his true nature is why he got away with what he did for so long. In hindsight we can say that these little things all added up and showed tiny insights into who he really was, but in the moment, it was impossible to make the jump from his little eccentricities to one of the worst child predators of all time.
Has there been any effort to prevent competitions from being decided by a thousandth of a point, when in reality the scores are mathematically the same and it’s only due to truncating scores that there is a difference? Do gymnasts and coaches get as frustrated by this as I do?
No, there is nothing that is being considered to prevent this. It seems crazy that a mathematical technicality can decide a meet when the actual scores are essentially the same.
Being realistic, do you think an Italian team composed of Asia and Alice D’Amato, Elisa Iorio, and Giorgia Villa could be a medal threat during 2019 and 2020 competitions? Could any of them battle for medals in event finals or the all-around?
I don’t know if they’d be a medal threat…they’d really need to up their game on beam and floor. But top eight for sure, and possibly even top five if everyone’s hitting in a team final situation. I could see them being a medal threat at Euros, possibly, but not at worlds or the Olympics without a bit more difficulty and work on their weaker two events. I think Giorgia could potentially be in the mix for an all-around medal, but again, beam and floor will hold her back slightly without upgrades.
When a layout on beam gets downgraded does it get downgraded to a back pike or to a different element?
In the past, it got downgraded to something between a layout stepout and a layout. A layout stepout is a C and a layout to two feet is an E, but when it gets downgraded on beam, judges give it a D because it’s still landed on two feet, but it’s usually downgraded because the legs are apart in the air like they’d be in a stepout. It’s like a compromise, basically, but that’s the reasoning behind it. They’d also downgrade for a lack of lift, which is hard for me to explain, but it’s basically how the body flips over in terms of center of gravity…if you look at most of the Chinese gymnasts, you can see that they have an amazing lift on their layouts on beam, getting nice and high and then flipping their bodies over, whereas most others who do layouts on beam have a relatively low lift and it looks a bit sloppier.
They changed things this quad so it is now downgraded to a pike, and gets a C. I think it’s now more about the shape of the layout in terms of it being piked or stretched rather than focusing on the split legs in the air, which makes way more sense, in my opinion. If they’re physically laid-out, they should get credit for the layout, and then deductions for any leg separations.
How many inches has Flavia Saraiva grown? Would the growth spurt have contributed to her injuries or taking a break from the sport?
I’m not sure how much she grew or what her current height is…she seems at least six inches taller, and yes, growth spurts can often contribute to injuries or just delays in being able to compete because the gymnast basically has to figure out how to do everything again in her new body, which can be difficult to maneuver.
Is Annie Beard still trying for elite? Is she injured?
I believe she is still planning on going forward with elite next season. She was supposed to compete this summer but withdrew from classics due to an injury.
If a gymnast doesn’t do low beam choreography does the deduction come from missing a composition requirement or is that an artistry deduction?
It’s an artistry deduction/general composition deduction. It’s not one of the four composition requirement skills that gets awarded 0.5 because it’s not a skill, but it’s still a requirement to have movement down low on the beam, so they’d penalize with deductions.
Do you know how Amy Tinkler, Ellie Downie, and Claudia Fragapane are doing in terms of their injuries?
Well, we know now that Ellie ended up making a full comeback and making it to worlds, where she wasn’t at a hundred percent, but still performed well and is now working on getting back to peak form for next year and beyond. Amy and Claudia are both training, but neither is close to competition ready at this point…I think both are hoping to be back in good enough shape to go to Euros in the spring.
Who had the highest scoring potential in the all-around between Laura Jurca and Stefania Stanila?
I think Laura Jurca did, and was generally the stronger and more balanced all-arounder.
Is it realistic for the J.O. gymnast with the prosthetic leg to compete at level 10 or beyond with a prosthetic limb? How would she be judged in terms of form with straight legs and pointed toes? Do they only base it on the real leg?
I don’t know how easy some of the more advanced skills would be for a gymnast with a prosthetic leg, particularly on vault and floor, but if she had the skills, then yes, she could compete. They would likely just base any form deductions in terms of toe point on her non-prosthetic leg since obviously she couldn’t point the prosthetic, and judges would know that going in.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins