You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


MyKayla Skinner

It’s time for the 252nd 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.

If MyKayla Skinner were to make a return to elite, based on her current NCAA routines, what realistic routines would we need to see her perform that would get her back to the elite level?

It depends on whether she wants to qualify as an all-arounder or attempt to earn an individual spot. If she wants to focus on vault and floor, she’d definitely need to bring her Cheng back, and then she could probably do well with her DTY (Shallon Olsen won silver at worlds last year with a Cheng and DTY), but I think an Amanar would obviously make her more competitive…and then she’d need to upgrade her floor a bit. I think she can still open with a double double and end with a tucked full-in, but I’d like to see her upgrade her 1½ to double full (it would be awesome to see her do a 2½ to double full) and then she’d need a couple more dance elements and a fourth pass (maybe a full-twisting double layout).

If she does decide she wants to do the all-around again, she’d need to up her bars and beam difficulty by a lot. Most NCAA bars sets have fewer than half of the skills required to reach an eight-skill elite routine, so she’d need some additional transitions and releases, and beam was always her weak spot in elite because I think it was a very nervous event for her, but I’d like to see her bring her tuck full back (maybe a standing full though, instead of part of her flight series), though honestly, she’s gotten so steady there in college, I’d almost rather see her do a routine that’s close to her NCAA level of difficulty just done super well. I’d rather see her get a higher E score with a D in the mid-4 range than her trying to go for a 5.5+ or something and then fall a lot or otherwise struggle.

Why can South Korea send a gymnast to the American Cup? Did a number of countries turn down spots even though Olympic spots will be determined at the end of the all-around world cups?

A number of teams turned down spots this year, mostly because it’s so freaking hard to get to. Even coming from NYC when the American Cup was held in Greensboro four years ago, I couldn’t get a direct flight and ended up having to fly into Raleigh-Durham and driving an hour. There are two back-to-back world cups in Europe a couple weeks later in March, and then the third is in Tokyo which is far away for Europe but much easier to get to with direct flights for most competitors. Greensboro couldn’t be a more annoying spot for most international competitors to get to, so when choosing where to go, most decided it wasn’t worth the time/budget for a one-day competition (I looked up what flying from Brazil would be like, and it’s two layovers taking over 24 hours which is literally insane for a two-hour meet). Since they go down the list of teams in order of how they qualified at 2018 worlds, it means several teams in the top 13 turned down the spot, leaving South Korea next in line in 14th place, and they ended up accepting. This year’s all-around world cup series isn’t part of the Olympic qualification…only the 2020 series counts, so countries are probably also focusing their budgets on next year/the meets that count for qualification.

In Sweden, studying doesn’t cost any money. If the U.S. had free education, what would this mean for NCAA?

They’d maybe offer some other kind of incentive to keep it going, like free housing. But there are plenty of programs currently in the NCAA that don’t offer scholarships (in D1, none of the Ivy League schools give athletic scholarships, many D2 athletes don’t have scholarships, and no D3 athletes have them), but athletes decide to compete anyway mostly for the honor of getting to do their sport at a high level. Gymnasts pay to compete in the J.O. and elite levels, so even if they wouldn’t get the incentive of free tuition to compete in college if tuition is already free, they’d probably still want to compete anyway.

If a gymnast goes pro, then some years later wants to study and do gymnastics, can she join NCAA and compete without a scholarship?

Nope, once she has gone pro and accepted money from endorsements as an athlete, she can’t compete at the NCAA level in gymnastics. She can, however, compete at the NCAA level in a different sport.

Is Kristal Uzelac intending to show the all-around at classics if she qualifies?

She’s only attempting to qualify two events, so she can only compete those two events at classics.

Does a hop full on bars count as a 360 degree pirouette, or as a same-bar release?

It counts as a 360-degree pirouette.

Because of the Olympic qualification process, will the 2020 European Championships break pattern and include an individual all-around competition in addition to the team? Or will the standings be determined from qualifications?

They’ll be determined from qualifications, as will all of the other continental championships, even those that do have an all-around final.

Is there a reason why every leotard Kristal Uzelac wears in her social media has BELIEVE bedazzled on it somewhere? Is it a line she’s promoting?

I believe she’s sponsored by them and asked them to create a leotard with that word on it. I don’t think it’s an actual line with GK, but rather just something she asked them to put together for her specifically, and I imagine when she competes she’ll have something similar.

Why is the safety collar removed for vaults without roundoff entries? I know you’re less likely to miss your feet, but wouldn’t it still be safer?

Not really…if you miss your feet on a roundoff, you go backwards head-first into the table. If you miss your feet on your run into a handspring, you just kind of stumble forward a little and fall into the vault against your arms/chest similar to when you balk a vault and run into the table, but there’s nowhere near the risk that comes with a roundoff. A safety collar for handspring vaults wouldn’t really do anything!

Would Irina Alexeeva make a U.S. worlds team?

Based on what she showed last year, I don’t think she would’ve made the team, but I think she’d be close and would probably make the national team.

I read on Twitter that judges’ fees for NCAA vary by conference and that the conferences that pay more tend to receive more favorable scoring at their teams’ home meets (presumably because the judge wants to get called back). Is there any truth to this?

It is true that judges’ fees vary, yes…I believe it’s based on team, though, not by conference (and how much a school pays might depend on whether it’s public or private, as well as other factors related to division). I’ve never thought about that influencing higher scores for specific teams, but you never know…it could be the case that some judges would assume that if they judge a certain team favorably they’d be invited back, but either way, most judges would be judging at that specific program multiple times no matter what because geographically, they’re going to the schools that are closest to them. Also, schools don’t select the judges, the NAWGJ has an online system that assigns judges to certain meets each season, and judges have the option to accept or deny their assignments. There’s kind of this hierarchy that exists, and the judges who have been around forever will get the best assignments, so maybe there’s some shadiness involved with certain judges requesting certain higher-paid positions, but by giving super high scores to a host team, that’s definitely not going to affect whether a school wants them back (I mean, the school probably wants them back but they wouldn’t be the ones inviting them). Also, I should probably add that the difference from one team to the next isn’t that huge…it’s not like Stanford is offering $1000 while Sacramento State only pays $100; the difference is more like $50 between programs, and ALL programs pay for judges at every meet, not just the host team.

I’ve seen a lot of mom-run accounts for gymnasts on Instagram. They often have offer codes associated with their kids’ names to gymnastics-adjacent companies, or have promo posts. Could this influence NCAA eligibility down the line?

It could but it would depend on whether the offer codes are related to legit endorsements or not. Some of those offer code things, pretty much anyone with a few thousand followers can get one and try to encourage people to purchase using their codes…but they’re usually not getting much in return aside from a few gifts from the company. I work in influencer marketing and giftings are common…people who are gifted products aren’t required to post about them, though the brand hopes they do and they usually will because the brand will want to send them more things or potentially work with them on an endorsement-level basis in the future. I think most of the giftings that leo and other gym brands do for gymnasts on Instagram are innocent enough, but I’d still exercise caution as a parent because you never know what the NCAA compliance team will decide is considered an endorsement.

If MyKayla Skinner comes back to elite, how do you think she’ll do in terms of technique?

Anyone in NCAA who adds elite skills – which means basically doubling the routine length on bars and adding much more difficulty on beam and floor that can affect focus and endurance, respectively – is going to struggle to keep up the same level of attention to detail with their technique. I think bars is going to be the most noticeably affected, because she looks so great in NCAA on that event, but literally doubling the routine is going to really take a lot of attention away from technique as she focuses on things like hitting more difficult skills and connections while also physically trying to get through a much longer routine. It’s an issue for anyone making the shift, but I think she definitely learned a lot in college about how to perform and how to be confident in her sets, so I’m sure these things will carry over and those alone will help some of her technical areas.

How would it work if MyKayla Skinner came back for 2020? Would she have to miss her senior year and quit NCAA? Or would she defer a year? Couldn’t she do both at the same time?

She wants to defer a year, meaning she wouldn’t compete at the collegiate level in 2020 and then could come back to finish up her career at Utah in 2021 (similar to what Brenna Dowell did by deferring in 2015-2016 to train for the Olympics). It’s incredibly difficult to do NCAA and elite at the same time, especially in the United States. NCAA limits gymnasts to 20 hours per week of training, and that includes any additional training they’d need for elite, whereas most elites in the U.S. are training 30+ hours, which puts her at an automatic disadvantage. She also wouldn’t have her elite coaches at Utah, and would have to split her focus between elite, NCAA, and academics. By taking a year off, she can focus the majority of her attention on her goal, which is the Olympics.

It’s also not just about training in the U.S. There are a number of national team camps held throughout the year that would take up too much time if she’s also a student, and she’d also probably want to earn international assignments like the world cups or Jesolo, all of which would keep her in greater consideration for Tokyo, but since the NCAA season would conflict with all of these, she’d have to choose between the two, which wouldn’t really be fair to Utah if she’s just like “hey guys, sorry, I know I’m your anchor on literally every event but I’m gonna skip regionals so I can go to Jesolo!” It makes much more sense to just defer.

What’s up with Olivia Dunne? Can she contend for teams this year or is she done with elite?

She’s dealing with a foot injury and doesn’t want to come back to camp until she’s fully healed. She’ll come back when she needs to, and will still be competing elite!

Do you think Mai Murakami will upgrade to an Amanar? What about her floor passes?

She has trained and competed an Amanar in the past but it was too risky for her to bother doing internationally (she fell a lot) though I hope she’ll get it under control before 2020. I’m not sure what she’s training on floor but I think some upgrades are long overdue and I can’t wait to see what she ends up competing…I think we might see some upgrades this year so she can start training and perfecting them with enough time to go before Tokyo.

Can you see any way for Simone Biles to rework a similar D-score beam routine without the damn barani?

I think she could add a skill like a standing full but I don’t know how strong she is at it in terms of getting it consistently…I just think it’s interesting that she doesn’t do any real front tumbling because she has said she doesn’t feel as comfortable with it compared to back tumbling, but then she does one of the most difficult forward skills on beam when there are plenty of difficult back skills she’s not doing. I wouldn’t suggest a connections-heavy routine for her since those are generally targeted by the judges, but I think she could add one or two skills that are difficult enough on their own and wouldn’t need to be connected.

What’s going on with Wynter Childers? She was leading off every event her freshman year and now she isn’t even on the floor with her team?

She has competed at three of Bama’s four meets this year, starting out on bars and beam in the first meet, bars and floor in the second, and then she took week three off before returning to the all-around in week four, where she won beam. Sometimes schools will rest athletes if they have nagging injuries so they probably just wanted to ease her into the season.

What are your thoughts on Frida Esparza? Do you think she could make all-around finals in 2019?

I love her and thought her scores at worlds last year were way lower than I expected, especially compared to several others who ended up making the all-around final. I think she can definitely make the all-around final in 2019.

Do you think Mexico could factor in as one of the teams to make Tokyo now that Elsa Garcia and Ana Lago are returning? Do you think Alexa Moreno could medal on vault at the Olympics?

I think they could be one of the teams vying for one of the final spots in the top 12, but it’s going to be a ton of competition, especially now that North and South Korea might compete as a combined team…both teams had a slight chance of making it into the top 12 on their own, but with combined forces, they’re going to be insanely competitive. Mexico will probably be on the outskirts, but we’ll see! It’ll all come down to how the teams look when we get closer to worlds this year. Ana and Elsa are fantastic but neither has competed at a high level in three or four years so I actually have more faith in girls like Alexa, Frida Esparza, Nicolle Castro, and some up-and-comers like the Gutierrez twins right now…but we’ll see how everyone ends up looking later this spring/summer.

Alexa could potentially be in the mix for medals in 2020 but the vault field overall last year was pretty weak with a lot of the top vaulters not there, so it opened up the podium to several gymnasts who might not normally have as strong a shot, including Alexa. She did fantastic to take advantage of that to get her historic medal, but once the field deepens a bit, it’s not going to be as easy and she’ll either need to up her difficulty and/or clean up her form a bit.

Is there going to be a test event for the Olympics in 2020?

I think so, but it would obviously only be used as more of a friendly meet with the ultimate objective behind it to test the logistics of how the Olympic competition would run, as opposed to previous years when it was used as a qualifier for individual all-arounders.

A lot of gymnasts bend their knees and split their legs slightly to miss the low bar in their giants before the dismount. Is it deducted in either elite or NCAA? It seems really strange that these amazing bar workers wouldn’t try to correct something like that.

No, it’s not a deduction…while bent knees and leg separation would normally be deducted, it’s allowed on those giants because with the low bar in the way, without bending their knees and separating their legs, they wouldn’t be able to swing without whacking their feet on the low bar, and thus wouldn’t be able to generate enough power to perform a dismount.

I was sitting near bars at Euros in 2011 and some women in the audience had machines and would press buttons with the numbers 1, 3, and 5 during routines. Probably deductions, right? What do you think the FIG was trying to figure out?

Yes, those would likely be for calculating deductions…usually because every country brings a judge with them to major events, there are more judges than spots available, so perhaps it was judges who weren’t assigned just keeping up practice? Or maybe they were lower-category judges who were training? Sometimes big competitions like Euros and worlds will also host meetings for people involved in the sport, so perhaps they were doing a judging training during Euros and invited some judges to sit in on the meet and practice? Or they could have been evaluating judges on the floor by doing their own calculations and then seeing how they differed from those who were actually judging…I’m not sure. But yes, in some capacity, it was related to judging!

Where do you see Australia going? Do you think Mihai Brestyan can conjure up a team that will qualify to the team final?

I think it’s too early for them to see his work make a huge difference in the current quad, with his focus more on development and putting together a better program for younger athletes as well as a better way to transition young athletes to the senior level. I think we could see a stronger team next quad, especially if many of the current younger seniors and juniors stick around, but I don’t think a team final will be in the forecast for a while, mostly because the competition is so strong right now. They’d need other teams to start to kind of ebb…but I think given the circumstances at worlds this year with everyone injured, the girls who ended up competing did fantastic!

When Ana Padurariu starts doing the all-around again how will she fare?

Ana was consistently beating Ellie Black as a junior, which I think speaks to how strong she is as an all-arounder. If her floor looks as good as it did when she was a junior, I think we can expect some clean and solid work, if not the most difficult set in the world, and while vault was where she often struggled, especially as she started growing a bunch, I hope she’s now used to her greater height and figures out how to do a Yurchenko 1½ more consistently. If she gets both of these things set, she’ll be back as one of the top all-arounders in Canada, and could probably be top eight at world championships.

I sometimes see gymnasts do several handstand pirouettes in a row and end up off to one side of the bar. Is there a deduction when they shuffle their hands sideways so they get closer to center?

No, this isn’t a deduction in terms of it being a form error or anything…but I could see it maybe getting a composition deduction? I personally hate it and while I understand why it needs to happen, I’d rather just not see back-to-back pirouettes, or at least see another pirouette to get back to center. I’d give it a composition deduction if I were a judge because I think it ruins the fluidity of a routine, but that could just be me, I haven’t seen anything specifically related to it in the code or in any technical committee updates/newsletters.

Are Aliya Mustafina’s roots Muslim?

Her father is of Muslim Tatar origin, so yes, I guess you could say she has Muslim roots on her dad’s side, but since Islam is a religion, I think it would make more sense to say she has Tatar roots? Or maybe culturally Islamic roots?

Any thoughts on the theory behind the new Olympic qualification scheme? Has there been a reasoning explained? It seems wildly illogical and doesn’t take into consideration the fact of injuries, peaking, and so on. Rather than having any effect on dominating countries, it seems to be horrifically unfair to the gymnasts themselves.

I honestly think the majority of athletes qualifying almost a year before the Games is insane, and it’s also incredibly unfair to all-arounders from smaller programs born in 2004 who won’t have a chance to qualify at all because they won’t be in the top two at continental championships, and they won’t have invites to the all-around world cups. I’m thinking specifically about Camille Rasmussen of Denmark, who has the potential to be her country’s first gymnast to qualify to the Olympics in 52 years, and yet she won’t get the chance because she can’t compete at worlds this year and none of the options available to her in 2020 will work out. The majority of individual qualifiers should qualify as close to the Games as possible, realistically within a few months.

Since NCAA gym uses the modified J.O. code of points, is there a way for gymnasts to create new skills and have them be named in the J.O. code?

No, I don’t believe a new skill in NCAA is recognized in the J.O. code, unfortunately!

When NCAA athletes work at camps are they working for free? Or are they allowed to get paid?

I believe they’re working for free and that things like volunteering at camps and at other volunteer opportunities are part of their commitment to their program and university.

It seems the Canadian team lacks depth in the bars department with them not using a fourth score in qualifications at worlds and having few D scores above a 5.0 at nationals. Are there any upcoming gymnasts who could potentially deliver some solid bars routines?

With their holes on vault and bars this year, I was actually thinking this would have been the perfect spot for Brittany Rogers to step in, so I’m wondering if she noticed that and if it has influenced her at all in terms of coming back to training. I think Zoé Allaire-Bourgie is going to end up being a fantastic bars gymnast, so I could see her adding some depth there. She’s really the only up-and-coming senior who is going to be part of the Olympics discussion, but yeah, her bars are very clean and with a little more difficulty, she’ll be great there.

If a gymnast verbally commits to one college, can coaches from other schools still contact them?

No. The gymnast can reach out to another program if they’re interested in changing their commitment, I believe, but coaches can’t contact them and try to poach them.

Why do gymnasts not wear foot thongs for turns?

I guess the material isn’t the best for turning on those floors? I always wondered this but then realized most of the foot thongs are made for turning on floors…though there are some gymnasts who wear something similar to foot thongs on floor, and I’d imagine the material is a little different so they’re not getting stuck. I actually always wonder about the gymnasts who wear socks on floor because I’ve tried turning in socks on carpet and my socks usually just end up twisting around my feet, hahaha. As someone who learned to turn in dance classes, I’ll never understand how people turn on a fabric kind of surface.

Why was Ragan Smith wearing a leo with the rest of the team in prelims and finals at worlds? She was the alternate and couldn’t be put in, right? Could she still have been used if someone got hurt?

She trained with the team in the training gym prior to the competition, so while she couldn’t have been subbed in mid-competition if someone got injured, she was still technically “on the clock” as the alternate until they marched out. I think most people would be like “as if anyone’s going to get injured right before the team competition, so it seems kind of pointless” but don’t forget that Ragan herself got injured in the training gym five minutes before the competition in 2017, so there obviously is that very real possibility that something could go wrong and they’d need her to step in super last-minute.

Is the Galante undervalued compared to the other Tkachev variations? The inbar adds 0.1 in difficulty in other skill groups compared to the toe-on, straddle, or clear hip entries, but a Galante is still only an E skill.

I think so, yeah. It seems insane to me that a piked Galante is only an F, as well. I think the Galante should be an F and the piked Galante should be a G.

Let’s say I want to become a judge in the U.S. Where do I even start the process?

First you have to become a USA Gymnastics professional member, and then you have to get safety certification and a background check, also through USA Gymnastics. Once that is done, you can start looking into judging certification courses, which are usually held in the fall of each year, with each state holding its own certifications (you’ll have to check with your state’s USAG branch for that info). Each state does things differently, but the basic idea is that you buy the code of points and other materials, pay fees to the various organizations (there are USAG fees as well as National Gymnastics Judges Association fees), study the materials, attend the course in your state, and then take the certification test and pass it for the level you want (if you’re just starting out, you have to do lower compulsory levels in J.O. first before you can move onto the higher optional levels). The best would probably be to Google your state’s USAG branch, click through to their judging page, and see if there’s someone you can contact about how to get started.

Why doesn’t Isabela Onyshko remove her tuck full on beam?

I can’t really tell you aside from what I’d guess. Sometimes gymnasts want to keep skills because they like the challenge and don’t want to “give up” on them. Other times it’s up to the coach. It could also be that she has tried layouts and layout stepouts, but gets deducted too much on leg form or otherwise struggles with the positioning and falls, so she might as well do the tuck full. Or it could just be that she wants the difficulty. But really, without asking her directly, I don’t know.

Do you think it’s a good thing to have big competitions on the podium when it affects the feel of the equipment so it’s different from how it is in the gym?

It’s not super difficult to get used to it, and being on podium actually makes landings a bit easier on the body than having just a hard floor beneath you (in gyms, most landings are done into pits or onto a resi or soft mat). It does take a few turns on the podium to get used to little adjustments you have to make in your swing on bars or with your landings on floor, but for the most part gymnasts have been on podium enough to make the changes without much of an issue, especially gymnasts who are lucky enough to compete on podium at domestic elite meets, like the U.S. gymnasts. Equipment is going to feel different everywhere, so whether you’re going from your home gym to camp, or from a concrete floor below your equipment at a J.O. meet to a podium at nationals, there are always going to be adjustments and going on podium is just one of those many adjustments.

Have the survivors seen any support from any current or retired gymnasts from other countries?

I’ve seen a number of international gymnasts tweeting about the survivors and about the Larry Nassar case in general, and it seems pretty much all of them are supportive.

Does Kim Zmeskal choreograph her gymnasts’ floor and beam routines?

I believe she is part of the choreography on both, but I think they also bring in a choreographer.

How do you think Emma Spence will fare on the senior team in terms of her strongest events?

I think as someone who is relatively solid on all four events, she could be a strong option for a utility role this year, aka someone who can make a big team and go up wherever needed to put up a reliable score.

Do you know if Morgan Hurd ever trained or wants to train an Amanar?

She trained one when she was much younger, just for fun into the pit I believe, and said later on in her career that she wasn’t planning on doing it for real…but seeing how strong and consistent her DTY has gotten, I could see her maybe playing around with one again.

Do you think we’ll see upgraded routines from Margzetta Frazier? She posts a lot of cool skills but never competes them.

Most gymnasts train about a billion skills and combos they never compete because they want to be able to compete at a high level of execution. Many gymnasts can do some super difficult skills and combos in training outside the context of a full routine, but it’s a lot harder to add them into a full routine, which is why most gymnasts don’t add a majority of the skills they can physically do into competitive sets.

If a walk-on gymnast receives a scholarship eventually, does all of her education get paid for or just the years that they have the scholarship?

She only gets her remaining time in the program covered, so if she gets a scholarship at the beginning of her junior year, she’ll get her last two years of college covered, and if she gets it as a senior, she’ll just get her senior year covered.

When is Laurie Hernandez planning on going back to team camps?

I believe she said the goal was late spring/early summer of this year, so fingers crossed!

Has Alicia Sacramone ever made public comments about the Larry Nassar case or the climate at USAG during her career?

I know she has tweeted several times about Nassar and how disgusted she is with him and everything that happened. I haven’t seen her talk about the culture at USAG, but I know when she was a gymnast she always hinted at things that were sketchy, like taking pictures of the food and making other low-key complaints about camp in interviews (which is probably why she stayed away from as many camps as possible throughout the years as an older gymnast).

Why isn’t Marine Boyer performing her DTY anymore?

She doesn’t really need it right now for what her role is on the team, and she struggled with it even when she was smaller, so now that she’s a taller gymnast, it’s probably much harder for her to compete it well enough for it to be worth it. I’d like to see if she could get a more difficult vault going forward into 2020, but for the first half of the quad, it wasn’t really necessary.

What happened to Abi Walker? Is she injured or just not competing elite anymore?

She dropped down to level 10.

How would you describe the difference between a whip and a back layout?

A whip is basically a no-handed back handspring in that it’s low and long (meaning that it’s done low to the ground and the distance from start to finish covers a lot of ground when traveling) and meant as a support skill to create momentum into a subsequent skill. A layout, on the other hand, is high and short (meaning the set goes up and gets more lift, and doesn’t really travel) and it’s meant to be a skill on its own, not a momentum-building skill.

Why doesn’t Russia send a gymnast to the American Cup anymore? When was the last time they sent someone?

Timing-wise it doesn’t work out because Russian Championships have generally been held around the same week, and they also find it more logistically feasible to send gymnasts to the closer European world cups. The last time they sent a gymnast was Aliya Mustafina in 2011.

Do you think Gabby Douglas will ever speak out on the abuse with Larry Nassar? Will she come back for 2020?

She’s not coming back for 2020, and I’m not sure if she’ll publicly speak out about Nassar. I feel bad that she was kind of forced to come out about her abuse in the first place due to non-stop social media bullying, and if she wants to keep her experiences and feelings to herself, that’s her right.

Do you think the new popular tumbling line with the punch front through to double back should be enough to meet the front tumbling CR?

Yup, that’s the reason why people are doing a front skill through to a skill like a double back…so they can fulfill the front tumbling CR without having to do a legitimate front tumbling pass.

Who is currently coaching at WOGA for level 10 or elite? Do you think they’ll maintain a power gym status this quad?

I’m not sure, the staff page is no longer up on the website…I know one of their coaches recently left when she got a job at Cal, and another coach also left for a job at Alabama this season, but yeah, I think they have in recent years attracted some really strong up-and-coming young coaches (probably why these coaches are being snatched up by NCAA programs!) and I think they’ll continue to have a top J.O. program that will consistently feed young elites through the pipeline.

Do you think Savannah Kooyman has a chance of making any lineups at UCLA this year?

She’s made the bars lineup twice so far this year, but still has a lot of clean-up work she’ll need to figure out before she becomes a mainstay. I think she’s a solid enough alternate for now, but with so much depth, it’s going to be hard to hold onto a lineup position in the latter half of the season once the team is figuring out the postseason roster.

What has happened to Emma Boyd? I heard she had a disaster on bars at the Hopes Classic. Will she be competing anymore this season?

She did her double tuck up and over the high bar, hitting her head on the bar before falling. It was terrifying, but she was checked out on the podium and then was able to get up and walk away, though she was obviously upset (and obviously couldn’t qualify to Hopes Championships having performed only two events). I haven’t seen her compete since then, but there haven’t really been any Hopes or elite opportunities since then. She’s committed to Georgia so even if she doesn’t end up trying to go elite, we’ll probably see her at the J.O. level for another four or so years!

Did Kyla Ross have an actual elite career peak or was she just always good?

She was literally always good. I think her peak was in 2013-2014…as good as she was when she was a junior and young senior, especially making the Olympics at such a young age, I think she came into her own more as a performer when she was a bit older. She grew a lot after 2014 and so her skill level started regressing a bit at that point, but those two years after London were so fantastic for her and while the Olympics were clearly fantastic for her, I think her true best work came afterwards.

Do you know the current status of Hong Un Jong? Is there a possibility we’ll see her again, or has she retired?

She has retired and is now coaching!

Is Li Qi still injured? I miss her so badly!

Yes, she was still injured late in 2018…I hope she can come back soon because she was SUCH an exciting new prospect last year and it’s too bad we didn’t get to really see anything she could do!

With certain countries like the U.S. waiting so close until the competition before naming a team, how does it work in terms of getting travel visas for gymnasts and coaches? Does the competition help in some way?

Whenever I’ve needed a visa to travel for a competition, it’s been handled by the organizing committee, so I’d imagine it’s similar for the athletes. The organizing committee has a whole team of people that basically just deals administratively with travel, from visas to hotel bookings and transport to and from the arena…they probably work something out with the country’s visa and immigrations department to make sure they can arrange last-minute visas for those who aren’t finalized until a couple of weeks or even days before expected arrival.

I realized I hadn’t heard about UCLA and if they went to the White House to visit with Donald Trump. Did they decide whether they’d go or not?

The football NCAA visit was different from the main NCAA champions visit, apparently, but I haven’t heard anything about it yet. As far as I know, UCLA was against going, so I guess that would still be the case and we won’t see them attend but I can’t say for sure.

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


47 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. I thought the Russian American Cup was because of the 2011 American Cup, after that they refused to send another athlete because of issues they had, that made them upset. ie Weiber… Mustifina and her coach were none too happy with this at all. “She was not even sixteen last year,” said Aleksandrov. “She wasn’t sixteen!”
    Mustifina was also unhappy that she had to room with another foreign athlete at their hotel. After I believe they said they refused to ever send another athlete to the American Cup, which Weiber beating her surely didnt help. Im sure coupled with the Russian champion ships dont help.


    • Her coach was mad about things related to the American Cup in 2011 but I talked to Mustafina (through a translator) at the event and she was absolutely fine, and even explained why she didn’t think she deserved to win…and there are rules now that keep the American Cup operating as a legitimate world cup so the U.S. federation can’t get away with things they did in 2011 (and in previous years) with throwing Jordyn in despite not qualifying. It could be that some of these things still irk the Rodionenkos but I think it’s also just easier for the Russians to go to the European meets and the Tokyo meet in terms of travel (with Tokyo being easier because it’s a direct flight from Moscow whereas small towns like Greensboro require multiple layovers and 24-hour travel days for a one-day competition which is nuts).


  2. Ok so the classics/Uzelac question was me, and I should have specified further – I’m curious about her AA potential at Nationals this year. Possibility? Or next year? Is this a thing? Cheers for answering, Lauren! And look, I managed to actually put it in the replies this time. Good job, me.


    • Hahaha, no problem! She would have to compete the all-around at the qualifiers to qualify as an all-arounder to classics and thus nationals. If she only does vault and beam at the qualifiers, then these are the only two events she can do all season. Not sure if she’s planning on eventually doing the all-around, but bars and floor are the hardest to build up endurance for, and I know she has trained both, so they’re probably both coming! Maybe she’ll go to a different qualifier this year to get her scores on those two events.


    • Aliya and Simone are two different gymnasts with two different styles. It’s like saying Nastia > Shawn. They’re two different talented athletes that both deserve recognition. It just so happens that the new Code favors difficulty rather than execution.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I *think* saying Muslim roots is right because Islam is a patrilineal religion (in the same way that Judaism is a matrilineal religion for example) so regardless of whether Aliya practices Islam or not, she is technically Muslim. IIRC what my fellow Muslim friends have told me ofc haha.


    • Oh wait, you were talking about roots specifically. Yeah, maybe roots is a weird way to put it. Damn, was hoping to put my newfound knowledge to use, whoops!


      • Ahh, okay. That makes sense to me…I know someone screamed at me one time because I referred to myself as being “part Jewish” because I had some Jewish relatives on my mom’s side and had identified with some cultural Jewish practices growing up, and someone flipped out at me about how Judaism is a religion, not a culture, and how you can’t be “part Jewish” because it wasn’t actually passed down to me in my blood or whatever and I was like damn way to erase my identity lmao. I still think certain parts of Islam and Judiasm while not actually passed down through blood can still make someone culturally Muslim/Jewish and there has something to do with roots and heritage in there…and I do think Muslim and Tatar heritage is pretty linked making her culturally Muslim at the very least through her father’s side, though ethnically I guess she wouldn’t be Muslim? The “roots” part is the awkward part for sure.


        • Long time lurker, first time poster because while I like watching gymnastics I don’t have any real knowledge – but Jews actually do have several distinct genetic markers: my uncle took one of the ancestry genetic tests and his results came back as 99.7% Ashkenazi Jew. I’m not sure if there’s a similar thing for Muslims.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Good to know! That’s what I had always thought in terms of my own history, and especially with the history of the Jews being persecuted based on race, not religious belief, even if there WERE no genetic markers, the religion and the ‘race’ have always been tied so to say that “you’re not Jewish” because someone doesn’t practice the religion seems a bit crazy to me.


        • Well, they are wrong. Judaism is both a religion and a culture/race, which is why you can have secular Jews, Christian Jews etc and someone can covert to Judaism but still not be part of the culture/race aspect.

          Liked by 1 person

        • That’s what I always thought and was pretty offended to be told I wasn’t Jewish (or part Jewish) simply because I never practiced. So since then I’ve always called myself culturally part-Jewish to differentiate but yeah, that person’s comments always felt icky.


        • I can confirm that ‘Jewish’ is both a religion and a cultural/racial identity. You can be religiously Jewish whether or not you’re part of that racial group, and you can be part of that racial group even if you’re not religiously Jewish.

          Source: The very nice Jewish family I knew growing up, whose parents were BFFs with my parents, whose house I still crash at when I’m in town, and with whom I spent several very pleasant Hanukkahs and even a Passover seder.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Ugh, your answer to the Skinner question makes me so mad! Pretty sure that was mine that I submitted yesterday, so mad props for being so fast!

    Every article I see about her and “will she or won’t she” talks about how she’s going to have to miss her senior year. None of them, that I’ve seen, say that she would defer. Not the most recent St. Louis Tribune piece and not the one awhile back where Megan Marsden was all “I don’t think she should do it.”

    If she does, she’s not skipping her senior year. She’s just pushing her senior year back a year. She’s still helping them for four years.

    I hate journalists sometimes (and I’m a former journalist.) Ever since talk of her coming back first started, I’ve been under the impression she would have to forgo her last year of eligibility to train elite because of the way all the articles have been written. I thought she had already deferred one year prior to college for 2016 training and so she couldn’t defer a second year. I’m very glad to hear that’s not the case!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, a lot of people seem confused by the fact that she can defer and then come back, especially all of the SLC-based reporters who are like THIS IS DEVASTATING TO THE ENTIRE STATE OF UTAH. Like, calm down. Basically the rule is that once she starts competing, she has five years with which to complete her four years of eligibility, so even though she deferred going into college, because she didn’t start competing until the 2016-2017 season, she still has that one year available for her to defer.

      Liked by 1 person

    • But in my mind, even if she defers, she kind of is. All her friends and classmates will be seniors that year, and she’ll miss the experience of graduating with them, doing all the senior stuff, etc. She’ll get her fourth year, but she’s still missing out.


      • Also, you can defer for one year without it affecting your four years, but if you defer a second year it counts against your eligibility.


      • She’ll still graduate with her teammates who are a year younger than her, and she will have known them for at least three years. It’s not a big deal. I think the Olympics is a much bigger deal than even going to college in the first place, but everyone has different values.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That was rude! She can do both if she so chooses. She can finish her eligibility getting a graduate degree, lots of college gymnasts do. Why would the choice of trying again for the Olympics be a “values” issue. She’s young, talented and has time on her side. She can have it all and I hope she gets it. Cudos to her for not giving up on her dream and congrats to keeping her elite skills in NCAA –

          Liked by 1 person

    • They’ll probably consider closing it in the future by saying “you must do a two-salto forward pass or at minimum one full twist in a one-salto pass” so like, Simone Biles with her front full through to full-in would be fine, as would Ellie Black who’s now trying a front full through to triple full…but the simple front tucks would likely be cut out for not meeting the requirement.


      • I’m a judge and do not think this will change. It’s not all about elite level gymnastics. There are thousands of gymnasts all over the world competing the FIG code who do not have such a high standard of gymnastics. Being able to compete a front tuck, a back tuck and a full twisting back salto is likely their limit given that they train 12 hours a week.


        • That makes sense in terms of the smaller programs. I feel like the code always previously only cared about the highest-level competitors, but I actually really liked that the newest code updates improved on how these programs are scored (like getting rid of the minimum dismount requirement so these gymnasts wouldn’t lose 0.5 on top of already having low difficulty…that was a HUGE win for them). If the WTC continues to keep these programs in mind, then yes, I think they’ll definitely consider leaving the front tumbling requirement as-is.


    • Punch fronts out of skills have always counted for that requirement despite not being legit, so I don’t really see how this is much different. I get that a punch front after is harder than a front tuck through, but I feel like this should be considered the same way.


  5. MyKayla was just on Sam Peszeck’s I Have Cool Friends Podcast and Sam asked her about 2020.

    MyKayla said she needs to make a decision in the next month and she’s 90% sure that she will begin training for 2020 after this season. MyKayla clarified that she would be able to defer the 2020 season and return for 2021.

    Liked by 3 people

    • To be clear… MyKayla stated she is 90% sure she will begin training for the 2020 Olympics. Defer the 2020 NCAA Season at Utah and then return for the 2021 NCAA Season at Utah.

      Liked by 1 person

    • AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! OMG. If MyKayla makes it all the way to Tokyo I am gonna laugh my ASS off. Haters have been trying to take her down basically her entire senior gymnastics career and she has *always* proved them wrong. I love her guts and I hope she kills it out there. Even if she doesn’t make the Tokyo squad, I’m so thrilled she’s got the balls to try. Get it, Mikki!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • First thing i thought was why?? when i saw that shes considering this… A la brenna.. I mean mykayla actually got further than brenna did in 2016… And shes swinging in success at ncaa….

      So why torture yrself and go against the huge odd?

      Then again maybe she did want to try again i will be rooting for her! Brenna made the worlds team against all odds.. So you ll never know…


    • I think Mykayla has a pretty decent shot… she is pretty comparable with the other girls (minus Simone) in the AA since her vault and floor are so strong.


  6. The question concerning the 2020 European Championships in relation to Olympic qualification is one that I’ve also been wondering about. The FIG Olympic qualification rules clearly state that qualification from the continental championships is “based on the results of the All-Around Final”, so unless this changes I believe there will have to be an All-Around competition at the 2020 Europeans as well as a Team competition, although I’ve not seen any confirmation of this yet from the UEG.


  7. It’s true that the new Olympic qualification process is unfair for new seniors! So how would you rectify it? I’d suggest making Junior Worlds a qualification option, something like Top 2 AA from non-qualified teams who would be turning senior in the Olympic year


    • That was my idea…make junior worlds a qualifier, or allow gymnasts from non-team countries to compete at 2019 worlds if they’re age-eligible for the Olympics so girls like Camille Rasmussen and others in her situation could have a chance to qualify.

      Liked by 1 person

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

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