You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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Kristal Uzelac Bodenschatz

It’s time for the 251st 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.

What’s the status on 2020 Olympic Trials? I had to buy tickets years in advance for 2016 but this time I haven’t been able to find anything…location, ticket sales, nothing.

They are probably still looking for a venue…when they announced 2012, it was before I was covering the sport regularly and getting credentials, and they announced ticketing in 2009! I remember signing up for a list in 2009, and then paying for my tickets in January 2010, more than two and a half years before the event. Things were a little slower in 2016 because they were trying to secure a location, but this is the slowest I’ve seen…I’d say we’ll probably have some idea like a year in advance? My guess is that they’ll want to stick to San Jose but I know they’ve had trouble with a few arenas in the recent past because of all of the Nassar fallout. They’re also held around the same time as hockey playoffs, so I know some arenas don’t know their schedules far enough in advance because of this, which was an issue in 2016 if I remember correctly.

I’m really excited about Kristal Uzelac registering for the elite qualifier at the Buckeye Classic, but what does that mean for her? What is the specific route for qualifying to nationals? Do you have to go through something like the U.S. Classic, or is making elite at a qualifier good enough?

I’m excited about Kristal as well! She’ll be doing two events, vault and beam, at Buckeye. I’d imagine since she’s been away from the sport for so long, the first part of her journey will require her to do the compulsory routines on both, but she might have a pass as a former elite (usually elites don’t have to repeat compulsories but since it’s been a solid 15 years since she competed and a lot has changed since then, they might require her to do it again). Once she has her compulsory scores, she competes her regular routines at the optional qualifier at Buckeye to get her elite status. As a senior competing two events, she’ll need to get a 26.5 total. If she gets her optionals score, she is considered an elite, and also moves on to classics, which includes the American Classic and the U.S. Classic. The classics are the only two qualifiers to nationals for new elites, so at one of the classics, she’ll have to get a 27.000 two-event score to qualify to nationals.

What goes on at a training camp like the recent one held in January? Will the February camp be held as a selection camp for Jesolo and the three international world cups as well as a prep camp for American Cup?

The January camp is mostly to see how gymnasts are looking without making full competitive routines a focus. Gymnasts will train like they normally would in their home gyms, but they’ll have extra eyes on them from the national team coaches as well as coaches from around the country who might be able to offer some advice/notes. They’ll also focus on routine construction and upgrades, and it’s a good way for the national team staff to determine who should get an invite for the next camp, which is when actual competitive routines on hard landings are shown. Most people refer to this kind of camp as a “skills camp” as opposed to a verification camp.

Why wasn’t Maile O’Keefe on the roster for the January camp? Any truth to the rumor that she has dropped back down to level 10? Do you think it’s a case of her being pushed too far too fast since she’s been on the elite scene since a young age?

I haven’t heard that she has dropped back down, and last I did hear anything from her, she was just taking it slow to make sure she didn’t come back until she was fully ready. I don’t think she was “pushed too far.” Honestly, even though she won a lot as a junior, it was usually because of her consistency, not because she was throwing huge skills. Her difficulty was never anything crazy, she just happened to perform well and have great meets.

I still remember when she won the all-around title in 2016, it was actually kind of a huge surprise with everyone expecting Jordan Chiles, Morgan Hurd, Gabby Perea, Emma Malabuyo, Deannne Soza, and Riley McCusker to be the big stars of that meet. But then Maile ended up hitting everything and looking clean and it was definitely not expected to see her take the gold. By 2017 she had asserted herself as more of a leader and so a repeat was possible but still not even a guarantee. It wasn’t like when Katelyn Ohashi or Jordyn Wieber were juniors and were doing senior-level difficulty where you were legitimately worried they’d burn out by 16.

Maile has been around for a long time, but she always took it pretty slow and steady, and occasionally she’d do some big skills on beam, but overall it was clear that she was doing difficulty she and her body could handle. I think she’s in a similar situation that Bailie Key was in, where she went through a growth spurt and got an injury at the same time, which can make coming back super difficult because not only are you dealing with the normal puberty issues that hit every gymnast, but you are also pausing your training on certain events to deal with an injury, so you’re taking time off and then when you get back to it, you have an entirely new body. That can be impossible to figure out as an athlete, but it happens to many gymnasts and has nothing to do with being pushed into doing too much too fast.

Why did multiple U.S. gymnasts all have pike jumps on beam in their Olympic routines?

I can only remember Simone Biles doing one off-hand (and maybe Aly Raisman but I can’t remember) but difficulty-wise they’re no different than any other basic jumps gymnasts use to fulfill a requirement. My guess is that when you’re doing a two-jump series to fulfill the CR, since only one has to hit a 180 degree split, you might as well just do a split jump to a pike jump, get the split jump to 180, and then don’t worry about getting deducted for lack of split on the pike jump. One less thing to worry about.

Is Sydney Morris eligible for NCAA? Has she not committed to college yet because of her YouTube channel? A lot of people her age have committed already.

She’s only 14, and while some 14-year-olds do commit to college, most are closer to 15 or 16. I’d imagine there could be an issue with her YouTube channel and Instagram account since she makes money from ads and endorsements…it might go under the radar because she’s not doing major endorsements with Nike or anything, but she’s well-known enough that people in NCAA might notice that she has a strong following and occasionally endorses things, so they might look into her financial info and determine that she’s not eligible. It could go either way, but I know of an NCAA rower who had a beauty YouTube channel and had her eligibility taken away once NCAA compliance discovered that she was making money through YouTube, even though her YouTube had nothing to do with her athletic career.

Is there a reason the courtesy score when a gymnast gets injured in NCAA is a 2? Why isn’t it a 2.5 or another number?

I think it’s just arbitrary, not sure the reasoning for it being a 2 and not a 1 or a 4 or something else. I believe the J.O. rule is that the courtesy score is a “minimum of 1” so if someone just does one element and then falls they’ll give her a 1, but if she does a few passes and gets injured at the end, they’ll give a higher one? In elite they’ll actually score the routine up to the point where the gymnast was injured. But yeah, I don’t see any rules about why the courtesy score is a 2 for NCAA.

Any idea what’s up with Gracen Standley at LSU?

All I know is that she was taken off the roster between seasons. Some people assumed she medically retired, but I haven’t heard anything official.

Why hasn’t Megan Schweihofer been in the all-around lately?

I would guess they’re probably resting her due to a nagging injury or something, but I haven’t seen anything official. I know she did the all-around in the first week, but then went to just beam and then brought back floor, so she’s probably dealing with something and they’re just trying to keep her healthy and bring her back slowly which also gives them the chance to work on some of their alternate depth.

Is Adeline Kenlin doing level 10 now?

Adeline’s coach Mary Wise said on Twitter that after an injury and a growth spurt, Adeline is testing out her return at some level 10 meets but she hasn’t officially dropped back down. Because she hasn’t dropped down, she isn’t eligible to compete at states, regionals, or nationals at the J.O. level, but she can still go to invitationals, which she’s doing now to kind of test the waters. She hasn’t “closed the door” on elite officially, and may attend one of the qualifiers later in the season, but she’ll see how she does this winter/early spring before deciding for sure whether she’s going to drop down.

If a gymnast went pro and then decided to join the Air Force, could she compete on their NCAA team?

Nope, she would still not be eligible for NCAA competition as a gymnast having accepted money for endorsements.

Are Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas still on the list to be randomly drug tested?

No. Usually, athletes who have left the sport for a period of time leave the drug testing pool until they’re actually training again (and they have to re-enter the pool within a certain amount of time before they begin competing).

Is Bailie Key not even on the floor with her team at the Bama meets now?

I haven’t seen her in the background or anything but haven’t really been actively looking for her. Sometimes gymnasts who are injured aren’t required to go to the meets. Some will choose to go anyway, but others will focus on resting/getting better, especially if they’ve just had surgery.

Does it ever make sense financially for a gymnast to go pro and forgo an NCAA scholarship? Wouldn’t it be difficult for a gymnast to make up the ~$300,000 that a college scholarship ends up being?

Yeah, I’d say for 99% of gymnasts, going pro makes almost no sense. It’s rare that a gymnast will make more than what a college scholarship is worth today. I think over the past ten years, it made sense financially for Simone Biles, Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Laurie Hernandez, and Aly Raisman, but beyond that, a scholarship likely would’ve had more value.

How do you think Vanessa Ferrari will fit in with the new young Italian team? Do you think she’ll still be good enough to be part of it?

Vanessa is actually planning on going to the apparatus world cups instead of attempting to make teams in the future. I think she’d still have a shot on a team because the 2003 girls are fantastic but they have a weakness on beam and floor, and someone like Vanessa could easily step in and make up for that weakness. These are the two events she’s focusing on going forward as an individual, and I think whether you’re looking at a five-person team for worlds this year or a four-person team for the Olympics next year, Vanessa would still make sense for a team. I think if she doesn’t end up earning an individual spot, she’d definitely still be considered for a team spot in 2020.

Grace McLaughlin wrote about losing her scholarship because of under-performance. I was under the impression that this wasn’t a valid reason to lose a scholarship? Could any gymnasts who don’t live up to expectations lose theirs?

I was also pretty much told by someone within NCAA that gymnasts can’t lose scholarships for under-performing, and that they’re basically guaranteed to have all four years covered fully unless they are somehow in violation of eligibility or have disciplinary issues. My guess is that if this information is correct, they may have officially used a different reason for taking hers away but then told her it was for under-performing? I’m not sure. NCAA rules are weird and there’s a lot of red tape.

I read that Isabela Onyshko left her gym and is now at one that doesn’t have anyone at the national level. I also noticed she isn’t on your list of competitors for Elite Canada. Is she still competing elite?

She’ll be at Elite Canada this week with her new gym and she still plans on competing elite at least through the 2020 process. She was actually expected to be on the worlds team last year, but ended up withdrawing from selection because she didn’t feel fully prepared, and then she felt like she needed a change of pace, which influenced her decision to change gyms. Phoenix isn’t super nationally recognized in Canada’s elite program, but they have a strong MAG program and have a number of level 10s in WAG, and I believe are trying to get more gymnasts to the high performance level. It’ll be interesting to see how she does with them!

Can a gymnast compete level 10 and Hopes at the same time?

Yup! A Hopes gymnast isn’t an elite gymnast…someone competing in Hopes is basically still a level 10 gymnast who also competes on the pre-elite track.

My friends are coming with me to the Birmingham World Cup in March (my first time ever seeing a meet – I’m excited!) but I’m trying to explain the 2020 rules for individual spots and am failing to make it simple. Can you send me in the right direction to your explanation?

My original post now has some outdated information because the FIG keeps changing things, but I’ll give you a basic explanation to kind of help you along! There are 50 individual spots available, and six ways an individual can qualify to the Olympic Games.

World Championships (32). The first individuals who will qualify to Tokyo will do so at world championships in 2019. A total of 32 gymnasts will qualify this way, either through the all-around or an apparatus final. Only those who aren’t part of federations that qualified full teams can qualify individuals at worlds.

Apparatus World Cup (4). A total of four gymnasts will qualify by winning the apparatus series title. The apparatus world cup series began with Cottbus in 2018 and concludes with Doha in 2020. Athletes who rank in the top 12 at each world cup are assigned a number of points, and the gymnast with the most overall points at the end of the series is considered the overall series winner, getting a nominative spot at the Olympics (nominative meaning the spot belongs to her and not to her country). Gymnasts from federations that didn’t qualify full teams are eligible to earn these spots as are gymnasts from countries with full teams, but only if the individual gymnast wasn’t on the team that qualified a team spot.

All-Around World Cup (3). A total of three federations will qualify by winning the all-around series title. The series begins with the American Cup in March 2020 and concludes with the Tokyo World Cup in April of that year. A federation can send a different gymnast to each of the all-around world cups. The federation’s ranking at each world cup is assigned a number of points, and the top three countries with the highest number of points at the end of the series get Olympic berths (these spots belong to the federation, not to a specific gymnast). Any gymnast from any federation competing at the all-around world cups is eligible to contribute toward earning these non-nominative individual spots.

Continental Championships (9). The top two gymnasts in each continental all-around final at African, Asian, Pan-American, and European Championships and the top one gymnast at the Oceanic Championships will earn non-nominative individual spots for their federation. Gymnasts from federations that didn’t qualify full teams are eligible to earn these spots as are gymnasts from countries with full teams, but only if the individual gymnast wasn’t on the team that qualified a team spot.

Host Nation (1). If the host nation does not qualify a full team or an individual spot from any of the above individual qualifiers, they are awarded one nominative spot. Since Japan is the host nation in 2020, they will likely qualify a full team to the Games, in which case this spot is added into the world championships individual qualification pool, bringing that total of qualifiers from 32 to 33.

Tripartite Invitation (1). The Tripartite Commission will select a gymnast from a country with fewer than eight athletes at the last two editions of the Olympic Games (Sochi and Rio) and will award her a nominative spot. Generally, they will look at the list of nations who fit this criteria, and then choose the gymnast with the best world championships performance who didn’t qualify in her own right. Based on the eligible countries as well as gymnasts competing regularly at an international level, I think this spot will end up going to one of the gymnasts from Iceland if they don’t end up qualifying an individual spot on their own, Ruba Al Daoud of Jordan, or Raegan Rutty of the Cayman Islands.

Do you know what the record is for highest women’s NCAA team score? Has anyone broken 199?

The record is a 198.875 set first by Stanford on February 20, 2004 and then matched by UCLA two days later. That’s the closest anyone has come to breaking a 199.

Compared to Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas’ comebacks, isn’t Laurie Hernandez’s a little late? Do you think she’ll have time to become competitive again for an Olympic spot?

Yeah, it’s definitely a little late, but you never know. Aly and Gabby both made the worlds team within six months of returning to competition, so if Laurie can get back to competition in some capacity by this summer, I’d say she still has enough time to contend for an Olympic spot…but it’s hard to say right now how possible that will be not knowing if she’s going to come back to the all-around or just focus on a couple of events.

Does Becky Downie incur a deduction for pinging off the high bar on her dismount? She always lets go a bit early, and you can hear the audience make a noise in alarm because the bar vibrates so hard!

She might. Generally the dismount would be for not getting enough height off the bar, so she might get a tenth for lack of height but it would depend on the judges and if they see it as an issue affecting the dismount overall.

Let’s say there is a series of B + B + C + B + B on beam. Can the C element count as the ending element of the first series and the first element of the second one so she could get 0.2 as a series bonus? Or would she need to add a sixth element (C) to get a second 0.1 bonus?

She would have to do two separate three-part B + B + C series to get a second series bonus.

I feel like before 2000, gymnasts on bars never finished any skill in a proper handstand and no one cared. Am I wrong?

I mean, I don’t think you’re wrong! I definitely recall scores that seemed high given the number of skills not done to handstand that would get absolutely hammered today.

Have any gymnasts besides Grace McLaughlin complained about athlete treatment at Florida before?

I believe it was partly the reason for Peyton Ernst deciding to transfer to Alabama, and then for Bailie Key and Emily Gaskins to change their commitment to Alabama…I’ve heard rumors of injuries being mismanaged and athletes being expected to compete before being fully healed. This is just what I’ve heard from this particular situation, but the girls there now seem to be happy so hopefully things have changed over the past couple of years.

With so many German gymnasts injured, do you think Pauline Tratz could come back to the team? Could she make a comeback?

I really want her to put in a try for 2019 worlds but not sure if it would be realistic or if it’s something she wants. She was always on the border of making teams for Germany, and I think if everyone was healthy, she wouldn’t be a top prospect…but if the situation is as dire this year as it was last year, I’d like to see her give it a shot.

What’s the difference between a walk-on vs a full athletic scholarship athlete in DI? Does the walk-on athlete get the same housing and amenities as the scholarship athletes? Is the difference simply who pays the tuition? How does one decide between a walk-on spot at a high ranking school vs a scholarship offer at a lower-ranked program?

It depends on the program, but most will treat walk-ons the same as scholarship athletes in terms of them getting the gear, amenities, travel opportunities, housing in the same dorms/apartments, and so on. The biggest difference is just that their tuition, housing, books, and other school-related things aren’t paid for. I think how one decides one over the other comes down to personal preference and what options they have open to them. Gymnasts who grow up in California, for example, are super lucky in that they have a ton of really strong D1 gymnastics programs in the state so they can pay in-state tuition and walk-on to a team like UCLA or Cal, where they’re on one of the best teams in the country with amazing coach and support staff. They might be offered a scholarship at a lower-ranked D1 program outside the state, but if they have the means to pay for one of these programs, they might prefer to not take a scholarship. But other gymnasts might be from states with zero D1 programs and have no connections – either through their gyms or just a sentimental love for a local team – to any programs, and they might not have the funds to pay for an out-of-state education on a stronger D1 program, so they would probably prefer a scholarship spot at a smaller/lower-ranked program. I think the majority end up choosing a scholarship at a lower-ranked program because they worked their whole lives to get that scholarship, so it’s super difficult to pass one up…but I do notice that a ton of fortunate Californians end up choosing to walk onto a local program like UCLA.

What are some of the highest difficulty scores you can come up with from current or recent NCAA routines?

MyKayla Skinner’s floor is the most difficult I can think of…it’s around a 4.6 in elite.

Does Canada have a chance at a team medal in 2020?

Yes, I think so! I think it’s pretty telling that the country has earned a total of four individual world medals, and three of them have come from three different athletes in 2017 and 2018. If they didn’t count those falls in the team final at worlds last year, and if everyone else had solid days, I think they would have easily medaled over China. They’ll have some competition leading up to 2020 and then in Tokyo, so they’ll need to focus on hitting, hitting, and hitting…but they absolutely have the talent and skills to get there.

What is Ana Padurariu’s inbar to piked Tkachev release rated?

It’s an F.

Does the code still have a deduction for coaches who verbally coach athletes while they’re competing? Was Lieke Wevers deducted during her 2016 bars qualification in Rio?

Yes, there is a penalty for coaches who verbally coach on the sidelines (or there should be, anyway…whether judges apply it depends on what they see and hear, and since they’re usually focused on the routine, they might miss an over-excited coach yelling things from the side of the podium or think it’s a teammate or something…teammates are allowed to scream encouragement and cues but coaches are not).

Do you know why Gracie Kramer changed her Rudi to straddle jump to an angel jump?

No idea officially, but she often has some trouble with her jumps not hitting 180, so they probably thought adding in another unnecessary jump that could get her an automatic deduction didn’t make sense. Also, the angel jump looks cool.

Do college gymnasts, either walk-on or scholarship, have to pay for their practice/competition apparel and travel accommodations or is that covered by the school?

All apparel and travel is covered by the program.

Why do some NCAA teams have more meets than others during the regular season? Do you find it unfair?

It’s up to the team how many times they compete in that 12-week regular season period, so if a team opts to compete less for whatever reason, it’s not like they’re being unfairly left out. It’s their decision. Alaska, for example, only competes seven weeks of the regular season because they’re so far away, though they’ll try to squeeze two meets into multiple weekends so they can still work out a total of ten meets. Some teams will choose to compete every single week, and others will opt for a couple of weeks off.

If a gymnast touches the beam and then falls do they get the deduction for touching and falling or just the fall?

They just get the deduction for the fall.

How do gymnasts wear sports bras or get proper support with low/intricate leotard backs? How many leos are worn with or without a bra? Do UCLA’s leos have built-in bras with some of their low-cut backs?

I know some gymnasts have said they hate the backless leos and how unsupportive they are, but for some reason some coaches choose aesthetic over support. I don’t think UCLA’s have built-in bras, but some do…and then Oklahoma wears a lot of low-back leos, but they’ll have bras with clear straps. I think it sucks, honestly, especially because if a gymnast feels physically uncomfortable being that exposed, how do they expect her to turn in her best possible routines?

What is the difference between NCAA coach positions? Does volunteer coach truly mean they’re not paid? How do they survive? Is associate head coach another name for assistant coach?

Yes, a volunteer coach isn’t paid. Most are still students, and others just volunteer a few hours a week so it’s not a full-time job. Most who aren’t still students will have jobs at club gyms but want more experience coaching at a higher level, and so it’s worth it for them to be in that kind of environment. Many volunteer coaches won’t travel to every meet, but rather just go to the gym a few hours a week to help out with choreography or a specific event or something. Usually associate is a higher title than assistant, but it depends on that team’s hierarchy or whatever. Most programs will have several support staff members in addition to the head coach, but the majority will have one or two paid assistant or associate coaches, and then everyone else is usually either a lower-paid assistant or a volunteer.

Do you know what happened to Madison Preston of UCLA? I thought she was staying on as a team manager but I haven’t seen her at any meets.

I’m not sure, sometimes girls who medically retire and become team managers don’t always stay with the team long-term for whatever reason. Often they’ll move on and begin doing other things and no longer have the time to fully commit to a team manager gig. It often involves a lot of mat-moving and carrying bags and things like that, so it can also be hard to go from a fully contributing team member to someone doing more of the grunt work. I know of a couple of gymnasts who said even though no one treated them differently, they felt awkward doing it and ended up quitting.

When people talk about leaps not being given credit for lack of split or whatever, when they say it was ‘downgraded’ do they mean a tenth is taken off the D or E score? What about the layout to two feet on beam — do they take a tenth from the D, take a tenth off the E score, or credit it as a pike or layout stepout?

If a leap has a lack of split, they’ll get deducted in their execution score for not hitting 180, which could be a tenth or three tenths usually, depending on how short they were. But if a leap isn’t hitting the correct shape, then it will get downgraded, which affects the D score. If a gymnast does a switch ring but her leg and arch don’t actually make a proper ring position, for example, she’ll get it downgraded to a switch leap.

As for the layout to two feet, they are actually downgrading that either to a pike or to a layout stepout, depending on the issues with it…unless the issues are minor, in which case they’ll credit the original skill and then take whatever deductions might exist. A gymnast who is in a legitimate pike position as defined by the code, for example, will get it downgraded to a pike, but if a gymnast just has a slight bend in her hips as she gets ready to land, they’ll probably just take that tenth from the E score.

Why are D3 scores so much lower than D1 scores? Are gymnasts unable to do the same skills?

They’re doing the same skills, more or less…the majority are competing at a similar start value as top D1 gymnasts, with vault being the exception as you’ll see fewer start values out of a 10 there, but that’s also the case for many lower-ranked D1 programs. For most D3 programs, the gymnasts are just more heavily deducted on a lot of the ‘basics’ that gymnasts in top programs don’t get deducted for. In top D1 programs, for example, it’s rare that you see a handstand not hit in vertical, and when you do see someone a little off, it’s only by about 15-25 degrees. In lower-ranked programs, including most D3 gymnasts, you’ll often see gymnasts muscle these a bit more and struggle to look as ‘perfect’ as the top program gymnasts do. It’s a lot of little things like these, with splits not hitting 180 on beam, or knees looking a little soft on a Rudi on floor…there’s also the fact that judges at these lower-ranked programs absolutely take off all of the “little things” that they’re supposed to take off, but often in top-ranked D1 programs, some of these issues will exist and judges will just ignore them and only focus on things like landings. Like, I’ve seen a bars set in NCAA end with a major leg separation in a double layout, and the gymnast will get a 10 anyway even though a gymnast in D3 would likely get up to a tenth for something like that. It’s definitely a different scale of judging, and while it’s clear why D1 gymnasts score as well as they do and generally look almost close to perfect on most skills, they also have the benefit of the judges ignoring all of the little things they get wrong, a benefit lower-ranked program gymnasts absolutely do not have.

MAG seems to have a lot more diversity in the countries that medal compared to WAG. At the last worlds, 13 countries won at least one medal for the men but only eight for the women. Why is this?

I think it’s partly because MAG has far more specialists than all-arounders, and if gymnasts are hyper-focused on a single event, it makes them more able to master it and reach major international finals. Most of the Slovenians and Croatians pretty much only train one event at a high level, for example, and so Croatia can’t even put a full team together but they have two different guys who can legitimately be medal threats at Euros and worlds. If you look at the number of men who competed as specialists at worlds last year compared to the number of women, especially from smaller programs, it’s vastly different, and most of the women who made finals or medaled last year are all-arounders who also happen to be strong on an event or two (or all four if you’re Simone Biles). There are a few specialists, like Becky Downie and Jonna Adlerteg on bars, who make one event a focus and try to capitalize on that at major events, but it’s nothing quite like MAG.

Will Irina Alexeeva be eligible for NCAA?

Yup! She’s not doing anything as a member of the Russian team that will preclude her from maintaining eligibility.

Which NCAA WAG team do you think has the best social media presence?

Hmm, I like a lot of them. I like the ones that are clearly run by enthusiastic team members who tend to be a little more colloquial and not all about being down to business. Arizona State’s is often really fun, especially when they live-tweet meets, and I really like the “voice” behind UCLA’s as well. I don’t follow any on Instagram so I can’t speak to that level of like, behind the scenes access or whatever, but I do follow Deanna Hong and know that if they’re using her videos and photos from behind the scenes, their IG must be fantastic.

If someone performs a skill not in the code but doesn’t submit it, does it still get added but unnamed?

I think the technical committee would have to determine this or determine if a gymnast could retroactively submit it. I haven’t seen it happen recently enough to make it something I’ve looked into, and there doesn’t seem to be a rule about it, but the first issue would be that they have to rate the skill like, mid-competition…so if someone randomly decided to bust out a triple double on floor without submitting, they’d have to determine what it should be rated like, right there on the fly, and then I think the next time the committee met, they’d discuss adding it to the code and whether it should be named or not. I think a gymnast and her coach could probably say hey, we didn’t want to submit this officially because we weren’t sure if we were going to throw it, but then decided to go for it, is there any way we can get it in? And the committee could make a decision.

What is the difficulty score for this routine? Inbar full + Komova II + Pak + Van Leeuwen + Ezhova + Chow + Hindorff half, Fabrichnova.

I believe it would be a 6.7 D.

What does “uncharacteristic element (with takeoff 2 feet or thighs)” mean for bars deductions? Can you give an example?

It means if someone does an element from either sitting or standing on the bar, like jumping to the high bar from the low bar. Basically there were some elements back in the day that involved various parts of your body touching the bars somehow, like belly beats, or having your hips/thighs on the bar during a skill, but these skills are no longer considered ‘legal’ in the current code of points so anyone doing some sort of skill that would involve any body part creating momentum gets a deduction because with the way routines are supposed to be constructed today, only the swing should be creating momentum.

What is the longest elite career you have seen unhindered by injury?

SHALLON FREAKING OLSEN. I was just writing about her for a piece on elites who are now freshmen in college and was like wait a minute, I don’t think she’s ever been injured in her entire career? Like, she’s had little things, but she has competed every single season from 2011 to the present and always seems to be the healthiest person alive?! And she’s doing some pretty difficult stuff, too. She is made of steel. Brenna Dowell and Aly Raisman also seem to be relatively unaffected by things that would take down a normal gymnast. I know Brenna had a shoulder injury at one point, and Aly’s ankles were sometimes messy, but for the most part they were both around all the time without major issues.

And obviously I have to bring up Oksana Chusovitina…she gets injured every so often but it’s not like, career-threatening because she’s basically just one pile of muscle. She’ll take time off when she needs it, but it’s never more than a few months, and I think that helps with her longevity because she can kind of determine for herself where and when she wants to compete, and isn’t really on anyone’s timeline except her own. As long as she gets to the Olympic qualifiers, she can do her own thing.

Is there any way to get email notifications when our questions are answered?

Most are submitted anonymously, so I have no way of contacting the people who submit them, but if you want to include your email with your submission and let me know in the question that you’d like a response, I’d be happy to send you an email linking to the post. As a general guide to how long it takes me to respond, if your question is more pressing like about an upcoming or recent event or breaking news or something, I’ll include it in my next batch of questions…but if your question is more technical or has to do with history or something random, I’ll throw it at the end of my list of questions, which is currently 30 pages long in a google doc with Arial size 9 font…aka, there are a LOT of questions in there. 🙂

I usually get about 30-50 questions per day, and think I have something like 400 questions waiting to be answered in my doc, and I answer the non-time sensitive questions on a first-come first-serve basis, so it might take a few months for me to get to yours if it’s not an urgent one. In every post, I’ll try to answer all of the time-sensitive ones I get, and then a bunch of the more random ones as well so I’m always steadily making my way through the batch. If I don’t answer your question within like, four months, it probably either got lost (sometimes I’ll accidentally delete something when quickly swiping through new emails on my phone and not realize it) or it was inappropriate (I got an extremely hilarious but wildly inappropriate question about a coach recently and was like LOL WHAT is wrong with y’all thirsty freaks) or not something I think is relevant to gymnastics (like asking why someone unfollowed someone else on Instagram and wanting the drama behind it).

Is there any relation between Celestina and Roxana Popa? Is it just a common last name?

It’s a super common Romanian last name! Celestina and Roxana aren’t related. Celestina now lives in Canada. She used to coach at Flicka, but now she owns a gym of her own in British Columbia.

In 2020, do gymnasts that are a part of the team of four get to compete in individual apparatus finals?

Yup! The all-around and apparatus finals will be open to anyone who competes in qualifications, whether they’re on the team or competing as individuals.

Do you reckon the Japanese women’s team could beat the Russian women’s team this quad?

I think so! The Russians have the stronger team when fully healthy, but I think if the Japanese are at full strength, they can definitely challenge especially if the Russians have an off day. I think the Russians have looked excellent recently, though, in terms of being more consistent…I was absolutely shocked with their Euros team final performance, and then they were almost as strong at worlds, so good for them for really improving on something that cost them a team medal in 2015. But anything can happen in a three-up three-count final, so if the Russians do have mistakes, Japan definitely has a shot at taking over the lead from them.

Why don’t gymnastics and figure skating have a similar judging system or why doesn’t one adopt the other?

Because they’re two different sports! They seem similar in that they’re subjective and have some aspect of building difficulty while executing that difficulty well, but I don’t see how one adopting the other’s scoring system would fix anything inherently wrong in either system.

Why is a sissone called a sissone?

It comes from ballet, and is named after the man who invented the step. The word “sissone” doesn’t actually mean anything, it was just named for the dancer probably a hundred years ago, and then stuck as the name for the jump to the point where now it’s just used as the name for the jump in ballet, and then when the jump became common in gymnastics, the name of it stayed the same. It does NOT mean “scissors.” A lot of ballerinas think that it does, because it kind of looks like scissors with the legs opening and closing (it’s more apparent the way the jump is done in ballet), but no.

How is it possible that the FIG is the governing body of gymnastics but seems to be tone deaf when it comes to the code and the changes that come with each quad?

I always think it’s weird not just because the FIG is the governing body of gymnastics, but that the majority of those on the women’s technical committee are former gymnasts!!! Like…you do remember doing this sport, right? How a code of points can be so tone-deaf to what actual current gymnasts want and need is beyond me. It’s like the technical committee comes up with a code, sees that gymnasts can successfully do lovely routines within that code, and then they’re mad that they haven’t stumped everyone so they make a new version of the code to try to make it even more difficult or insane to try to get as many gymnasts as possible to just straight up stop doing gymnastics.

Obviously those in bigger programs with thousands of coaches and tons of resources don’t have a ton of issues adapting, but the smaller programs – aka the programs we want to be encouraging to keep gymnasts at an elite level to grow the sport – end up really struggling and many just give up. I had a coach/judge from a small program one time email me a whole list of questions for You Asked because she couldn’t figure out several of the changes in the code or how to construct a routine for her gymnast, and I responded privately because I wanted to be helpful, and she then said that she was taking her judging exam for the next level of international judging, but had zero prep materials or study guides. It’s almost as if they’re setting up newer programs to fail from the start, which is insane to me.

Has anyone ever competed a hands-free Onodi on beam?

A few have trained it, including M’rcy Matsunami, who competed NCAA at Alaska, but I haven’t seen anyone compete it. Charlotte Mackie of Canada competed a one-handed Onodi, though!

What do you think Simone Biles could add on all four events?

I think she can do the TTY on vault, I’m not sure about bars but would love to see her do the Weiler full and maybe a triple double dismount? I think she could also do the Ray dismount, and would like to see her up her game on her releases in terms of doing more of a Tweddle-esque kind of routine. On beam, I’d love to see a standing full, and would also like to see her go for the double double dismount, and on floor, a triple double for sure, and then possibly a tucked double double half-out.

What are the chances that Bulgaria will qualify a team in 2020? Is there a better shot at qualifying a single gymnast? Is Laney Madsen the top gymnast for Bulgaria?

They have a zero percent chance of qualifying a team in 2020. They didn’t have a full team compete in 2018, so they were ineligible to qualify a full team to worlds in 2019 (only the top 24 teams qualify). Laney hasn’t yet competed elite internationally, so it’s hard to say if she’s their top…they have a couple of gymnasts who compete regularly, like Yoana Yankova and Pamela Georgieva, both of whom perform more or less at the same level that Laney showed at U.S. Classics in 2017, but without having seen Laney on an international stage getting judged by international judges it’s hard to say. I think she could be the best based on her skill level compared to theirs, but unless she really improves on her execution and consistency, it’s going to be hard for her to qualify as an individual.

At what point in their respective quads did Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Simone Biles go pro? Has anyone ever gone pro while still a junior?

I don’t remember when Shawn went pro, but Nastia was like, really young I believe…she was doing commercials when she was about 14 I believe, so that answers your question about whether anyone has gone pro as a junior, though as far as I can remember, she’s the only one I know of. Gabby, Jordyn, McKayla, and Aly all went pro at about the same time, shortly after world championships in 2011, and Simone went pro after world championships in 2015.

When will tickets for NCAA regionals go on sale?

It depends on each regional host site’s ticketing system, but I’d imagine all four sites are on sale at this point (and probably go on sale whenever they release regular season tickets). The four sites this year are LSU, Michigan, Georgia, and Oregon State, so check with whatever school you were interested in going to for regionals, look at their schedules, and click the “buy tickets” link that they should have up.

Are balance beam elements that end in a cross straddle sit considered easier? You can land slightly off balance but still ‘land’ perfectly. Are they rated lower than elements that land on the feet?

I guess in the aspect of not having to land on your feet, they’re easier, but it’s also super hard to perfect your positioning in the air to make sure your body alignment is correct enough to land with your legs on either side…it can be tougher to master than a back handspring, but maybe once you’ve got it in a good place, it’s then easier in terms of the landing and not having any deductions. Both a back handspring and a Korbut are worth a B, and both a Kochetkova and Rulfova, aka the full-twisting versions of each, are worth a D, so the code probably takes into account that it’s easier in some ways but harder in others, making them worth the same.

Why do you think Michigan has been underscored for years?

I actually don’t think they’ve been underscored for years and can recall many meets where their scores were as outlandish as the teams that usually get crazy high scores…but that’s when they were consistently around the top five and therefore commanded that kind of attention. Ever since they started slipping a bit with weaker lineups, that love from the judges has kind of disappeared. I think once a team establishes itself as a top team and a real contender, the judges almost subconsciously begin treating them better, but as soon as they start falling from grace, their scores begin falling as well. They have a few huge standouts right now who should be scoring much better than they do, but the majority of the lineups tend to be a bit weaker, mostly because they don’t have a ton of depth and often end up putting in gymnasts who might not normally be the first choice…but they’re one of many, many, many teams who don’t benefit from the high scores that the top teams get. They’ve benefited from it in some instances in the past, and maybe they’ll improve overall as a team, but it’s unfair to them and to dozens of other teams to not be getting the same scores as the top teams do.

Can a coach yell out to the gymnast during her routine to tell her what to do? For example, a gymnast misses her leap series on beam and her coach yells out for her to do another one.

Nope, coaches aren’t allowed to coach from the sidelines. Many gymnasts will train for instances like this, but they don’t always realize mid-routine that they’ve missed a connection, so sometimes they’ll know enough to do another combo but other times they won’t think about it. In that case it would be super helpful to have a coach telling them what to do, but that’s precisely why it’s not allowed.

After Peng Peng Lee competed her last-ever beam routine, I noticed some gymnasts told Brielle Nguyen and a few others to not bang on the podium as they were celebrating. Can a team get a deduction for this?

There could be a penalty if gymnasts who aren’t competing touch the podium. I know in elite, gymnasts aren’t allowed to touch the podium, so it’s possibly also a penalty in NCAA. There could also be general sportsmanship penalties and maybe the judges could see a team being too rowdy as something to take a penalty for? But yeah, I’d guess the gymnasts who were warning against it probably knew of some sort of potential behavior-related penalty. I can’t think of any other reasons why they’d tell them to stop otherwise unless they personally didn’t like that kind of behavior, haha.

Do you think Romania can medal at junior worlds in the team finals with Silviana Sfiringu, Ioana Stanciulescu, and Antonia Duta? Individual medals?

They’ll definitely be in the mix. I think the United States and Russia will easily be the best two teams by quite a long shot if they both send top teams, but I don’t think the 2004-born Chinese juniors are as high-level as the Romanians, so it could be that we get a little glimpse of the “Big Four” back in action fighting over the podium spots. However, there are some other countries that could also sneak in. It’ll just depend on who is healthy and ends up competing/hitting!

What was Diana Bulimar’s floor music in 2015? Do you think Jade Carey would benefit from something like that, a powerful piece where the music would engage the audience, seeing that she’s not a natural performer?

I believe it was a Bollywood song called “Jaanam Samhja Karo” from a movie by the same name. I do think something with more energy could help Jade with her artistry, but the music on its own wouldn’t do it for her. Diana still had a presence that Jade doesn’t have and while she wasn’t the most natural performer either, she still puts herself into her choreo pretty well. I think if she gets something more energetic and powerful, Jade would still need a sort of artistry coach to choreograph in some smiles and facial expressions and that could make a bit of a difference.

Does a Bhardwaj/shap full/any other full-twisting release count as the full twist for the elite composition on bars, or does it have to be a circle element on the bar?

In elite, they have to perform a non-flight element or non-dismount with a minimum of 360 degrees in the turn, which eliminates every category of skills except the pirouettes. In NCAA, they’re allowed to count twists in transitions and stuff as their lateral rotation, but for elite they basically have to do some sort of pirouette, whether it’s just a giant full or something more tricky involving more intricate circle skills like stalders or toe-ons.

Should we expect to see Grace Quinn in the lineup soon for Cal?

I’m not sure if she’d make any lineups this year unless some of the current girls competing get injured. She was training bars in the fall, and she also did a bars set in J.O. last year, so I’d guess that’s where we’re most likely to see her compete first if she does make it into a lineup this year…but she also might be one of those late bloomers who doesn’t get much more than exhibition experience as a freshman but then steps it up later on.

Does Ruby Harrold compete balance beam for LSU? If not, do you know why she was always such a strong competitor on this event for the British team?

Ruby had some decent work on beam as an elite but she wasn’t a first-choice option for the British team (in fact, she competed every event but beam at Euros and the Olympics in 2016, and she did it in qualifications at worlds in 2014 and 2015, but didn’t do it in either of those team finals). I think beam was often Ruby’s weakest event as an elite, though they really needed her other three…and it wasn’t necessarily that beam was bad in elite, it was just that she wasn’t top-three in the country there if everyone was hitting. She has never competed beam for LSU, and just like elite, she’s called upon often for vault, bars, and floor.

If a gymnast signs an NLI and later decides she doesn’t want to do gymnastics, is there penalty? Can she still be accepted as a student at that school? If she signs an NLI but later wants to attend another school, would she also not be able to do gymnastics at the new school?

For the first scenario, correct, there would be no real penalty. Most in this situation would still take the scholarship and then medically retire so they could stay at the school with a full scholarship despite not competing in a sport any longer. If she signs an NLI and then decides to go to another school, however, she’d still be able to compete, but she’d face a penalty of losing one year of competition.

Do you know why Geneva Thompson didn’t compete last year? She looked really strong at their first home meet. Was she injured, or did she just not make any lineups?

She tore her Achilles before the 2018 season but she looks fantastic now!

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

40 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Another routine for the recent NCAA routines with the highest D scores was Katelyn Ohashi’s 2017 beam routine when she did the layout full. I know she didn’t compete the layout full very many times, but when she did her routine would be a 5.0 D score in elite by my calculations.


  2. I’m not quite sure if Iceland is eligible for the tripartite invitation. They had 28 in 2012 (14 of which were the handball team), taking them over the maximum 8 limit for their average.

    Also in 2000, the CoP didn’t require perfect handstands on the uneven bars.


      • So I was shocked to learn that at the last two Winter Olympics (2014 in Russia + 2018 in S. Korea) Iceland only had 5 athletes at each of those Olympics. Thanks to The Mighty Ducks, I thought Iceland was a hockey powerhouse, haha! #todayilearnedmoviesarentreal haha 🤣 😉


    • I believe at either American cup or nationals (sorry IDK exact), the NBC crew discussed that Martha wanted Natia Liukin to drop the Healy half in her bars routine because she finished too late for the new code. I think it is 2006.


  3. Re: layout credit on beam, gymnast must show laid out shape in the inverted position to be credited as layout, any bend in the hips will get downgraded to pike. They used to get downgraded to an in-between D element, but not any more.

    Also, a hands-free Onodi is an arabian aerial walkover which is super cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ohio State has had 3 consecutive wins and scores over 196, but it seems they don’t move up in the standings, why is that? They have been a weak team in the past but have been getting so strong. I would like to seem them recognized for it.


    • Two thoughts here. The first is more of a question. When you talk about “getting recognized for it,” do you mean in the scores the judges are giving them or in their ranking? If you mean in the scores the judges give them, that very well may be a fair point, I haven’t seen any of their meets this year, so I don’t know if they’re getting lowballed in the scores. If you mean their ranking, it’s purely based on numbers. Teams are ranked based on their average score (later it will be RQS, but now it’s average), so there is nobody “not being recognized” in the assignment of the rankings. It’s all just who has had the highest average scores.

      To answer why they aren’t moving up, you have to analyze what Ohio State has done and what the other top 15 teams have done. You are correct that Ohio State has gone over 196 3 times, but all of those scores have been in the low 196s. Two of them haven’t even been a tenth over 196. Combine that with the fact that their first meet was below 195, and that makes for an average that isn’t super high. On the other hand, Nebraska’s first three meets were all below 196 and not very impressive, but last week they went over 197. That really high score pulled their average up over Ohio State’s. Then there’s BYU who hasn’t had one monstrous meet like Nebraska, and they’ve also had a sub-195 meet like Ohio State, but their other 2 meets were solidly into the 196s, so they also have a higher average than Ohio State. Washington has only one meet above 196, but that one was well into the mid-196s. Another meet was just barely below 196. Their other meet wasn’t great, but they kept it above 195. Combine all that, and their average is higher than Ohio State’s.

      The bottom line is that Ohio State has been doing well enough for the most part (as in they haven’t repeatedly had bad meets), but they have yet to have a really good meet. If they’re going to move up the rankings, they’re going to need to push past well enough and have a few really good meets. This will become all the more true when the rankings switch over to RQS and teams like Nebraska and BYU that have had some really good meets and some pretty bad meets are able to drop their bad scores and only count their good ones.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh ffs, I sent a comment as an ask again… anyway, re Kristal, is she intending to do AA this season at Classics if she gets her qualifier?

    On that note, anyone know if she’s got sufficient difficulty to reasonably expect her to make the qualification score? It would be so cool if she did.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would say she definitely has the difficulty. There have been some discussions over on the Gymnastics subreddit about it. Her beam appears to have a D-score around 5.0, and her form on both beam and vault is looking really clean. If she hits, she has a good shot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Especially because these qualifiers tend to be overscored like crazy. Random girls who don’t quality to nationals will get like a 14.5 on beam at these so if she hits she’ll probably get like a 9 E score lol. I think as long as she hits she could be fine.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. So Kristal Uzelac has to average a 13.5 on vault and beam to make it to nationals. Not impossible… but she has to be on her A game on beam. Judging from her training videos, she’ll be doing a Lopez on vault, which if done cleanly, will get her around a 14. A 13 on beam is still pretty hard to do. As a point of reference, Morgan Hurd got a 12.933 on beam in Doha–and she stayed on the beam.


  7. I’m almost 100% sure we won’t ever see Bailie Key back on the team. I guess she’ll medically retire sooner or later. Texas Dreams tho.


  8. Re: All-Around World Cup Olympic Qualification: “A federation can send a different gymnast to each of the all-around world cups” — does that mean a federation has to send a different gymnast to each of the 4 if they want to qualify one of these spots? Or could Japan send Mai to all 4 and qualify a spot that way?


    • Japan could send Mai to all and get a spot that way, or a country can split it up between gymnasts. Germany sent Eli to most last year, whereas the U.S. sent a different gymnast to each event, for example.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It would be great to see Simone submit the Weiler 1/1 at Stuttgart but I can’t see her adding it to her regular routine unless she recomposes everything since it would be really difficult to connect her Maloney out of it.


    • No it wouldn’t. Plenty of gymnasts do shaposh variation to Tkachev variation combos. This would be much harder, but still possible. Grace McCallum did a Chow to Tkachev in her bars set in 2018, and Diana Varinska competes a Chow to Hindorff. Actually, Louise Vanhille used to compete that at one time as well. Adding in the half twist on the catch would obviously be hard but the combo itself is very much possible.


  10. Just a general comment to say that I get so happy when I see the You Asked posts. Thank you for being the perfect companion for my lunch break during a stressful day at work. I appreciate the time and effort you put into these because I learn a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. YES ASU has awesome social media! The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen on any college team’s social media was on their Instagram when CLB got her fifth Freshman of the Week title and they took a “5-Timers Club” skit from SNL (I think?) and pasted CLB’s, Toni-Ann Williams’s, and Mykayla Skinner’s faces over the actors with Toni-Ann and Mykayla welcoming her in.


  12. I was actually confused as to why LSU never used Ruby in beam, at the very least at testing the depth type meets. Sure beam is her weak event, but she’s had highlights during her elite career, like bronze at 2016 British nationals, she made the event finals at 2013 Euros, and she scored well enough to win AA medals at meets like nationals and the Commonwealth Games. Her form and splits aren’t the kind that the judges would throw tens at, but mid 9.8s to low 9.9s seems like a possibility if you go off of her elite routines. Maybe she’ll be the “I figured out NCAA beam as a senior” type of gymnast.


  13. I asked what Bulimar’s 2015 music was….that was my favorite FX music of hers, every time I hear it it stays in my head all day! I rewatched her 2012 routine the other day, I forgot what a gorgeous double layout she had, especially when younger before the surgeries!

    But yes I agree, she is miles ahead of Jade as far as performing her choreo

    I just think, Jade’s FX choreo/dance are so blah, maybe a song that sticks in your head would liven the overall performance up. I’m not a good loosen-up and dance person either (I tend to feel too stiff/tight from gymnastics movements so I feel self conscious and that’s how she comes across) but there is just some music you can’t help but move to and get into.


    • Based on what I know and what I’ve been told by people who work within the NCAA, no, this isn’t something they can do…not for performance. I was specifically told that scholarships could only be taken away for disciplinary reasons, unless someone is basically forced to medically retire.


  14. I’m really surprised to not see Gabby Douglas on that list. How did that AA gold not earn her more than the value of a scholarship?


    • Oh, she should be on the list as well! I forget people sometimes, it happens, I have a human brain and will not always remember every single person who exists hahaha.


  15. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: I believe that makes a baker’s dozen, Bob | The Gymternet

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