It’s time for the 254th edition of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered!
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Why are Jordyn Wieber and Courtney McCool still volunteer assistant coaches for their teams? Given what they contribute, shouldn’t they be paid?
Teams only have a certain number of spots open for paid positions and unfortunately for Jordyn and Courtney, those paid spots are already taken up. Both UCLA and Arkansas had a head coach and two associate head coach positions, and they can’t just add another position because they have volunteer coaches they really like. These things are determined by the athletic department and with only so much budget to go around, they don’t have room to add more coaching positions, which is why so many schools have volunteers.
Most volunteer roles are filled by former team members who are sticking around for another year or so, but Jordyn stayed a volunteer for a couple of years beyond graduation because she wanted to be in LA and loved doing what she was doing (plus, she has money from outside sources so she seemed to be fine in that sense), while Courtney volunteered at Arkansas because her husband was an associate head coach. They both knew that they couldn’t get a paid position at those particular programs unless someone in one of the paid positions left, but they seemed to be more than fine with their decisions.
I’m writing this just as Jordyn is being announced as the head coach for the Arkansas program, and both Courtney and her husband are moving from their respective volunteer and associate head coach roles at Arkansas onto something new. The news about Jordyn was amazing, but perhaps Courtney found something at a program where both she and her husband can get paid? A lot of spots are opening up this year!
Imagine it’s 2020, every age-eligible gymnast is healthy, and the U.S. is allowed to send as many four-person teams as it wants to the Olympics. How many podium-worthy teams could it field? If we lower the standard to just team final-worthy, how many could it field then?
I think two podium-worthy teams and four team final-worthy teams? And that’s a conservative guess! Like I absolutely think this would be possible.
Do you know the specific schedule for next year’s Olympic Trials in St. Louis?
The men compete Thursday June 25 and Saturday June 27 while the women will compete Friday June 26 and Sunday June 28.
How do the age grades work for J.O. nationals? Is there a specific time for each grade or does it depend on who enters and how many?
It’s basically dependent on who enters and when their birthdates fall. I think it’s usually six age grades (Junior A-F and Senior A-F), and each grade has about 50 gymnasts, for a total of 600 girls. The 50 oldest will compete Senior F, the next oldest compete Senior E, and so on. Say all of the Senior F girls were born in June 2001 and earlier, then the next 50 girls were born between June 2001 and August 2001, so they’d be senior E, but then the 50 girls after that were born between August 2001 and March 2002, so they’d be Senior D, and then there were 50 girls born between March 2002 and April 2002, making them Senior C, and then the 50 girls after that were born in April 2002 to May 2003, so they’d be Senior B…and so on. Does that make sense? One age group could be just two months while another could include girls born over a year, the goal is to just make the spread as even as possible between all 12 grades so there aren’t 100 girls in Senior F and then 5 girls in Senior E, which could happen if they made each grade a specific six-month range or something.
With Val Kondos Field retiring this year, who do you think will take over her position? Is there a chance that Jordyn Wieber will get a paid position anytime soon?
I don’t know who it will be, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be Jordyn. A lot of rumors are flying around right now but the two biggest ones I’ve heard is that the UCLA athletic department is “looking to clean house” in terms of bringing in someone totally new to the program into the head coaching role, and then I’ve also heard that Jordyn might be taking on the assistant role at Michigan, which would be cool because she could learn from Bev Plocki and maybe one day be her successor. I’m not at 100% on either of these, so take them with a grain of salt, but I kind of like that we might be getting some fresh blood at UCLA, and of course I’m thrilled that Jordyn will finally be paid for the talent she has for coaching at this level! Edit: I wrote this exactly one day before we found out the news of Jordyn getting the Arkansas gig today!
Do you know if Laney Madsen has committed to any college or has gotten any offers yet?
Apparently she had something about UCLA in her social media bios at one point so since she’s from California it could be that we’ll see her walk on to that program? She competed level 10 once this year and actually did fairly well, getting especially excellent vault and floor scores, so I think she could be pretty competitive for a scholarship, but of course UCLA is a huge draw for any gymnast so she might prefer to take a walk-on spot there over a scholarship elsewhere…but either way I think she will likely end up in college!
I’ve seen most current elites have already committed to a university. How will it work for gymnasts who are likely to compete at the elite level until Tokyo?
They’ll usually defer for a year or two in order to train for the Olympics, and then they’ll start their first collegiate season in the fall semester following the Olympic Games. Someone like Morgan Hurd is technically old enough to start college this coming season, for example, but she’ll obviously be deferring to focus on the Olympics, and the same will go for pretty much any other 2001 or 2002-born gymnast who could enter next year if they wanted but would rather focus on making it to Tokyo for the time being.
What does ‘cross position’ mean when talking about balance beam in the code of points?
A cross position is the normal way a gymnast stands on the beam for almost every element with the length of the beam in front of her and behind her, as opposed to a side position which is when a gymnast is facing sideways with the length of the beam to her left and right. Usually when the code talks about cross vs side positions, it’s referring to mounts or jumps because some of the same skills can be done either way…like a split jump can be done in the cross position or facing sideways in the side position. Many skills done in the cross position are easier than skills done in the side position, but some – especially in terms of mounts – are worth the same either way so the code will specifically say something like “cross or side press handstand” to show that it can be done either way and get the same element value.
I’ve actually heard of the sideways position referred to as a cross position when spoken out loud or written (like saying Danusia Francis does a side aerial “across the beam”), and linguistically this makes more sense…but the code uses it in terms of cross as I’ve explained it here and side as facing sideways, so…shrug. I usually say “transverse” for a side-facing skill and then if a skill is done regularly on the beam I won’t say anything about the position because most skills are done the “regular” way so there’s no need to be like “a split jump done in the cross position” because you can just infer that someone talking about a split jump is talking about a regular split leap, not one done facing sideways, in which case someone would say “transverse split jump” or sideways split jump or something.
Will Romania’s new training center for juniors in Constanta help them? Is it good that juniors that young already work that close? Will it help in the long run?
I hope so, though they had been doing something similar in the past with all of the juniors in the same center and it didn’t really matter because still getting them to the senior level would never work out. I think the biggest focus for Romania needs to be on transitioning juniors to seniors, and helping them reach a higher level of difficulty by progressing year to year. They have tons of great juniors already, but then they all come to the senior level with FTYs, bars a 12-year-old should be doing, and full-ins as their hardest skills on floor. It sounds harsh but it’s true, and then they get mad that younger Romanian seniors aren’t competitive at Euros or worlds, but like…they can’t be competitive with junior skills in a senior field.
In 2016 at the Olympics, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman tied for seventh on beam with the same D and E score. According to FIG rules, if gymnasts remain tied after the first two tie-breaker rules (the first being that the gymnast with the highest E score prevails, and then the second being that the highest D score prevails), it states that they will “share the same classification.” But in this scenario, how would the FIG break the tie while still allowing the two-per-country rule to remain in effect? Is this a loophole that needs to be plugged?
Yup, it’s a definite loophole! If it was two girls from different countries sharing the same classification, they would have to expand the event finals field to nine people, which has happened before at FIG events, but I’ve never seen it happen with two people from the same country sharing the same classification to qualify with another girl from their country already ahead of them. With no other rules in place, they would kind of HAVE to allow it, but I could also see them going to a further tie-breaker in a situation like this even though the rule says they should share the rank, and I think they’d do something similar to what they did with the bars tie in Beijing by dropping one of the judge’s scores or something like that.
For programs like UCLA with a million different leotards, who picks the style each week?
I think the coaching staff usually ends up picking but I know some teams will have girls who love choosing the leo/team style in general, and then I’ve also seen teams offer options to the public saying stuff like “vote on the leo that we’ll wear next week!” or something.
For athletes who don’t want to give up NCAA eligibility, does their prize money, money from tours, or even for that Under Armour commercial Madison Kocian, Maggie Nichols, and MyKayla Skinner did get saved somewhere until they’re done with NCAA?
No, it should, but unfortunately it doesn’t. I was talking with Courtney Kupets once about the post-Olympic tour she did and how she couldn’t take the money, and we discussed how silly it is that money like that – which isn’t like, a TON of money but could still set gymnasts up with a little nest egg to use as a down payment for a home or something – isn’t put into a trust for their future. I get not wanting to pay NCAA athletes and how NCAA athletes should be amateur, but for gymnasts who earn money before they go to NCAA, the compromise should be putting the money into a trust.
What was Jordyn Wieber’s injury in London?
She had a stress fracture in her right leg.
Are the world cup events being televised or streamed in the U.S. this year?
All of the all-around and apparatus world cups were streamed on olympicchannel.com and they also aired tape-delayed on the Olympic Channel a few hours after they streamed live. The apparatus challenge cups will also be streamed and televised on the Olympic Channel!
How many girls from the 2008 quad are still competing internationally? What about the 2012 quad?
From the 2008 quad…
Jade Barbosa (Brazil)
Dominiqua Belanyi (Iceland)
Dorina Böczögö (Hungary)
Kim Bui (Germany)
Martina Castro (Chile)
Simona Castro (Chile)
Oksana Chusovitina (Uzbekistan)
Becky Downie (Great Britain)
Sherine El Zeiny (Egypt)
Daria Elizarova (Russia)
Vanessa Ferrari (Italy)
Elsa Garcia (Mexico) – attempting a comeback
Lisa-Katharina Hill (Germany)
Carmen Horvat (Slovenia)
Daniele Hypolito (Brazil) – as of last year but may retire soon?
Jasmin Mader (Austria)
Dorien Motten (Belgium)
Yamilet Peña (Dominican Republic)
Marta Pihan-Kulesza (Poland)
Makarena Pinto (Chile)
Angelina Radivilova (Ukraine)
Adela Sajn (Slovenia)
Franchesca Santi (Chile)
Irina Sazonova (Iceland) – maternity leave at the moment!
Agnes Suto-Tuuha (Iceland)
Ayelen Tarabini (Argentina)
Tijana Tkalcec (Croatia)
Marcela Torres (Sweden)
Göksu Üctas Sanli (Turkey)
Lieke Wevers (Netherlands)
Sanne Wevers (Netherlands)
Ioanna Xoulogi (Greece)
Adding those still competing from the 2012 quad we have…
Farah Ann Abdul Hadi (Malaysia)
Jonna Adlerteg (Sweden)
Eleonora Afanasyeva (Russia)
Dalia Al-Salty (Hungary)
Melba Avendaño (Colombia)
Caterina Barloggio (Switzerland)
Teja Belak (Slovenia)
Reina Beltman (Netherlands)
Ridma Bengalage (Sri Lanka)
Janine Berger (Germany) – so far only back in German meets
Payel Bhattacharjee (India)
Ellie Black (Canada)
Sofie Bråten (Norway)
Georgia-Rose Brown (Australia)
Aruna Budda Reddy (India)
Kirsty Caruana (Malta)
Chuang Hsiu-Ju (Chinese Taipei)
Claudia Cummins (South Africa)
Pranati Das (India)
Jessica Dowling (Canada)
Erika Fasana (Italy) – she’s still training but hasn’t competed in a while
Amalia Fauziah Nubuwah (Indonesia)
Polina Fedorova (Russia)
Carlotta Ferlito (Italy)
Danusia Francis (Jamaica)
Anna Geidt (Kazakhstan)
Elsa Geurts (Netherlands)
Sofi Gomez (Guatemala) – apparently making a comeback
Alexa Grande (El Salvador)
Elisa Hämmerle (Austria)
Larisa Iordache (Romania)
Gabriela Janik (Poland)
Ema Kajic (Croatia)
Ivana Kamnikar (Slovenia)
Dipa Karmakar (India)
Anne Klein (Netherlands)
Camila Klesa (Argentina)
Tjasa Kysselef (Slovenia)
Maija Leinonen (Finland)
Emily Little (Australia) – back in the gym after a neck injury in 2017
Lo Yu Ju (Chinese Taipei)
Filipa Martins (Portugal)
Christina Meixner (Austria)
Paula Mejias (Puerto Rico)
Angelica Mesa (Colombia)
Alexa Moreno (Mexico)
Mai Murakami (Japan)
Aliya Mustafina (Russia)
Demet Mutlu (Turkey)
Tatiana Nabieva (Russia)
Pranati Nayak (India)
Emma Nedov (Australia)
Marina Nekrasova (Azerbaijan)
Ofir Netzer (Israel)
Tinna Odinsdottir (Iceland)
Rosanna Ojala (Finland)
Christina Onofre (Philippines)
Andrea Orradottir (Iceland)
Maria Paseka (Russia)
Aleksandra Rajcic (Serbia)
Sara Ricciardi (Italy)
Cintia Rodriguez (Spain)
Lahna Salem (Algeria)
Ahtziri Sandoval (Mexico)
Marcela Sandoval (Colombia)
Elisabeth Seitz (Germany)
Shang Chunsong (China) – recent comeback
Kelly Simm (Great Britain)
Jelena Stamenkovic (Serbia)
Giulia Steingruber (Switzerland)
Nancy Taman (Egypt)
Denise Tan (Netherlands)
Tan Ing Yueh (Malaysia)
Asuka Teramoto (Japan)
Ang Tracie (Malaysia)
Celine Van Gerner (Netherlands)
Nadieh Van Pol (Netherlands)
Vera Van Pol (Netherlands)
Yuriko Yamamoto (Japan)
There are also many gymnasts from both quads who continue to compete at the local level, especially in France, Germany, and Italy where gymnasts continue competing with their clubs at league meets even though they’re not actively training to make national teams or anything. The most known of these is Federica Macri, a member of Italy’s Olympic team in 2008, but there are several gymnasts competing in all three countries who are currently in their 20s and 30s, and Germany has 43-year-old Silvie Wentzell competing at Bundesliga meets with the club she coaches at!
Did UCLA compete against Stanford twice this year?
Yup! It’s not a huge deal or super rare for teams to meet up twice in a season, especially two teams in the same conference. Most will try to schedule so that they meet with every other team in the conference in addition to getting some play outside the conference, but occasionally the same teams will meet up a couple of times for whatever reason and that just happened to be the case with UCLA and Stanford!
Why didn’t Irina Alexeeva compete at Russian Championships?
She’s taking some time to focus on school at the moment.
In the current code, is only one mixed acro-dance pass permitted on floor? Or is it a trend that’s disappearing?
I don’t think there’s anything about requirements in terms of mixing acro and dance on floor, because I’ve definitely seen people connect a couple of passes into jumps and not just one, but I think it’s just disappearing slash I think people also realize that many are getting more deductions than the added skill is worth, so the trend is dying down. I could have overlooked in the code if it says only one is required so correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure it’s more a trend thing.
When Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, and Jaycie Phelps announced their comebacks for 2000 almost simultaneously, was that a coincidence or was it coordinated somehow? Where they asked/encouraged to come back by USAG?
I think it was a coincidence, though I think it was like…people knew they were training and so it was almost a formality for them to announce, so maybe it made sense to announce close together? I don’t remember the specifics of the announcements…and I barely remember Jaycie’s comeback at all, to be honest. I remember being excited when I learned Dominique and Shannon would be back to attempt to make another team, but as for the actual announcement itself, I wasn’t super keyed in on it.
What were Ashton Locklear’s D and E scores from her meets in February? Could she upgrade to become more competitive?
At the elite qualifier she had a 5.4 D and an 8.050 E score on bars, and a 5.2 D and a 7.400 E on beam, and at the WOGA Classic she had D scores of 5.3 and 6.2, respectively…looking at her final scores I assume her E scores were 7.050 and 6.350. I think she definitely needs to upgrade her bars if she wants to ever make teams again, but her beam…she upgraded it a bunch over the past year, and now she just needs to work on hitting it.
What are Victoria Nguyen’s plans for college and elite gymnastics?
I know she went back to a camp earlier this year. I think she’s also considering Stanford for college, so the process is a bit longer than other programs because an athlete has to be admitted academically before she can be offered a role within an athletic program.
Has anyone publicly apologized to Jamie Dantzscher, Jeanette Antolin, or other athletes who first reported Larry Nassar for the horrible comments they made about them? Has what happened made anyone think differently about how to talk about athletes online? I remember people were so vicious when talking about Mattie Larson during 2010 worlds, but knowing now what she went through, I’d hope people would be less vicious in a similar situation.
Not that I know of. I don’t think most of the people who initially made comments are really ‘famous’ enough to have to offer a public apology…it was a lot of random coaches and former gymnasts on Facebook. I’d hope they privately apologized, especially to Jamie, as she was the first one to get her name out there and the comments were vicious, calling her an alcoholic liar and other nasty names based on her reputation. People always gave her crap even when she was competing both in elite and in college, so for her to be the first victim to publicly speak out, I think many people in the community were like “oh she’s at it again” which is so unfair…but I’m glad most at least ended up supporting her and the others when more survivors came forward. It sucked for Jamie to have to be the first, but she should be so proud to have jump-started this, making other athletes see that they could also come forward.
Do you know if Brandy Johnson or her husband had any relatives in other countries so Sydney Johnson-Scharpf could have represented another country and competed internationally as a senior?
Not that I know of!
Why do most countries have nationals much earlier in the year compared to the U.S.? Doesn’t it make more sense to have athletes peak later on in the season closer to worlds?
Not everyone has worlds as a top priority. For many countries, continental championships are going to result in a larger medal haul, so that becomes the focus. The majority of countries will have to peak twice, once for continental meets and then again for worlds, but many will just make worlds a true priority if they have real medalists or if it’s an Olympic qualification year. Like, usually Germany cares most about Euros, where they tend to have the biggest medal and final shots, but for worlds last year the rest of the team was injured and they knew any team goals were going to be a long shot, so it wasn’t a priority meet for them. This year they’ll have to qualify a team to Tokyo so you can bet they’ll be as prepared as possible for Stuttgart, while Euros this year was kind of a blow-off meet for them with most of the top girls opting to stay home. The U.S. is really the only program that has worlds as the one big international meet of the year. The spring has some practice meets, and then they can focus on upgrading and perfecting routines to be at about 80% by nationals, 90% by selection camp, and 100% by worlds, with other international meets that get in their way – like Pan Ams – often just going to B team kids, or kids who might need a little extra experience.
Will the U.S. still bring three alternates for the team in 2020 or will the two individuals sub in if needed?
They’ll still be allowed three alternates, but I’m not sure what the rules are right now about individual athletes subbing in. I think if it’s before qualifications/before names for qualification lineups are submitted, they can make changes to their teams, and so an individual athlete can be swapped onto the team and then an alternate brought in to fill an individual role if needed. But I don’t think they’ll be able to swap in any nominative athletes onto the team, so Jade Carey wouldn’t be able to be moved to the team if she gets to Tokyo in a nominative spot, but someone named to a non-nominative spot COULD be switched in.
Where is Gracen Standley of LSU? I noticed she’s not on the roster for this year or last year but she still identifies as an LSU gymnast on social media.
She’s basically an assistant now, no longer competing, but still part of the team moving mats, providing support, and doing whatever else she needs to do to help them out!
Has Jordyn Wieber made any comments on John Geddert lately?
Not that I’ve seen.
In the initial Larry Nassar lawsuits, some athletes who were anonymous were so obviously recognizable to anyone with basic gymnastics knowledge. Why was so much information included?
I think a certain number of specifics are allowed to be included because even if someone is anonymous, the description of the criminal act has to be descriptive so it has to say where and when it happened, which often makes it really obvious who someone is. Also, many of the victim impact statements were written by the victims and they chose to include pieces of information. I remember hearing one of them and it started out by saying something like “I’m an Olympic medalist and was on the national team for these years and my first U.S. Championships was this year” and I was just like okay well like, that narrows it down to exactly one person, but in her case she’s the one who chose to say all of that so that was at least up to her.
Why is there such criticism about social media posts by people like Ashton Locklear and MyKayla Skinner while there isn’t much criticism of people like Jay Clark or Mary Lou Retton, who are even more outspoken about offensive beliefs?
I don’t know…I feel like a lot of people complain about Mary Lou’s posts, but the lack of criticism about Jay is surprising because he has said some stuff that has been straight-up icky, like not just retweeting a slur or being like “yay Trump” as MyKayla and Ashton did, but like legitimately sharing an opinion about hating a certain kind of person so I’m guessing just not a lot of people follow him or something? But yeah, I’ve definitely seen some Mary Lou backlash, as well as backlash against McKenna Kelley, so that’s out there.
In 2010, Vanessa Zamarripa competed in the elite season representing UCLA. How can a collegiate gymnast compete among the elite?
She finished her collegiate season in April of that year, then trained elite routines at UCLA over the next couple of months to be ready for the elite season. She had a Cheng, which was huge for an NCAA gymnast, but that was about it in terms of big skills, because she didn’t really have the time to upgrade her other routines to make them equally high-level. I remember Martha Karolyi said something like you’re invited to worlds camp as a national team member, but you’re not making the team because you’re not quite ready yet, so she didn’t go to camp and that was the last we saw from her. I think it’s hard for most collegiate gymnasts to make the transition to elite after doing collegiate routines, but some do occasionally try.
What would happen at worlds or the Olympics if a gymnast competed a new skill but didn’t submit it beforehand? Would she still get it named?
It has to be submitted. I remember at worlds in 2017, Shallon Olsen decided not to submit the triple Yurchenko, but then when she was training right before the vault final she was like oh I think I might be able to hit it?! So she submitted it literally like five minutes before the final…though she ultimately opted to not compete it. But if she had competed it, and if she hadn’t done the last-minute submission, it wouldn’t have been named for her.
Can you explain what Espoirs is? Why is it in multiple countries?
Internationally at FIG meets, juniors can only be 14-15 years old, so most countries have a junior level for those who are age-eligible for larger junior competitions (like Euros and Asian Junior Championships) and then they’ll also have an Espoir division for gymnasts aged 12-13.
Because the U.S. doesn’t really attend any FIG junior competitions (most of the junior meets they go to follow most FIG guidelines but meets like Jesolo and Gymnix don’t use the junior age limits), they have no need to separate the 14-15 year old competitors from the 12-13 year olds, so they just have one junior division and everyone ready to test into elite from age 10 and up is allowed to compete as a junior.
The U.S. does have Hopes for gymnasts ages 10-13 who want to someday compete junior elite but need a bit more time and experience first. I think more and more gymnasts are now staying in Hopes longer…before we used to see a lot of 10- and 11-year-olds going elite, but now some of the top juniors are girls who stayed in Hopes until they were 12 or 13.
Do you have to be 18 or under to compete at J.O. nationals? What if someone turned 19 before graduating high school?
I believe you need some sort of special permission to compete the J.O. levels at an older age…there was one woman who was competing level 9 in her 40s, but most adults who still want to compete beyond NCAA or elite end up doing the adult gymnastics league, which is NAIGC, so they can find a club with other adults and continue competing that way rather than competing with children, which can be problematic.
Could a gymnast compete J.O. and NCAA at the same time?
No, once a gymnast advances to NCAA she can no longer compete J.O. Plus, the seasons happen simultaneously and there’d be no time to do both.
At Cottbus, Gabriela Janik and Angelina Radivilova ranked 12th and 13th respectively with the same score of 13.350. On the official website, they granted 5 points to Janik and 0 to Radivilova. But in the Cottbus directives, it says “in case of a tie…the tie-breaking rules as outlined for the Olympic Games shall be applied” and that gymnasts not qualified for finals with the same final score would receive the same world cup points. This confuses me…as far as I understand, ties should be broken if possible. With Lilia Akhaimova removed from the vault list, Janik and Radivilova bump up to 11th and 12th, so would both then receive 6 points? Should they have been more specific when they stated “the gymnasts with the same final score receive the same world cup points” and specified that this only refers to athletes who don’t qualify to the final? Are they still figuring out rules? Did someone make a clerical error?
There is a LOT incorrect with how some of the rankings have been added to the FIG website, not just in terms of points allocation and rankings, but with some names entered entirely incorrectly. Like, a trampoline gymnast was entered at one point instead of an artistic gymnast with a similar name. I wouldn’t put too much faith in the FIG rankings…if the directives say they get the same points, they’re probably accurate in whatever way they’re officially keeping track of things, even if they’re incorrect on the FIG website. The FIG also broke the tie for Ellie Black and Mai Murakami at the American Cup, but I didn’t actually read those directives yet to see if they were supposed to tie or have the tie broken because the all-around world cup doesn’t matter until next year for qualifications…but yeah, if you see something on the FIG site that you think might be incorrect, there’s a high possibility that it is.
In the USAG ‘Biles is Back’ video from a few months ago, Simone Biles mentioned that on her first day back in the gym, Laurent Landi had her doing layouts on vault. Is that dangerous?
Not really…layouts are usually done as timers, and I know girls who were lower-level gymnasts who work in gyms now and can go back and do a random Yurchenko tuck or layout really casually, so for Simone it was probably fine and I’m sure he assessed her strength level and body condition before having her do them. She stayed super fit during her time off so a Yurchenko layout was probably still relatively easy for her.
Given how Mattie Larson was shunned by Martha Karolyi and the other coaches for her mistakes during 2010 worlds, do you know if Alicia Sacramone was made to feel the same way after the team final in Beijing?
I’m not sure if she was shamed, and I know that Martha did give her more chances later on in her career so I know she wasn’t instantly canceled in Martha’s eyes for making those mistakes…but in Alicia’s case, they weren’t going to win the gold even with her mistakes, whereas in Mattie’s case, the U.S. would have won gold without her fall, so everyone kind of blamed it on her…even though since it was such a small margin, literally ANY small mistake also counted as a reason they were behind. Alicia actually said that in 2010 when people gave Mattie crap. She was like, yeah, you could say the fall lost the gold for us, but so did a step on a landing or a wobble on beam. Mattie was blamed because her mistake was the biggest and costliest, but when looking at actual tenths, you can technically blame literally anything. I liked hearing Alicia say that, especially since she was blamed for the U.S. losing in 2008, even though mathematically they would’ve lost with or without Alicia’s problems.
I noticed a lot of routines at the 2016 Super Six were scored lower than they would have been this year. Do you think the performers have gotten better, or have the judges just completely lost it?
I think the judges have completely lost it, honestly. They’re like “You hit a routine? Congrats, here’s a 9.95 or a 10 because no technical flaws or form errors exist, just wobbles and falls!!”
Why don’t we see tucked or piked versions of the Amanar, Rudi, or DTT in WAG?
Getting that number of twists around is actually easier in a layout position than it is in bent body positions because a layout is more aerodynamic than a tuck or a pike. You’d have a bit more time in the air to get a tuck around, but the twisting would go so much more slowly, so most don’t even attempt it. Occasionally you’ll see people go for the tucked Cheng or the handspring front tuck full, but those look SO awkward for the most part, and the tuck position is never fully correct so they probably also get deducted a ton as well. The pike would be even worse! A pike looks ridiculous when twisted…a half is fine but a full or beyond just looks insane…and usually bad, lol. That’s why most piked full-ins on floor usually end up being almost fully laid-out in the first flip and then just piked down at the end. Basically if you’re gonna go for a high number of twists, you’d better also go for the layout.
Technically, Yurchenko double backs should be less difficult than the Produnova and as difficult as an Amanar based on their respective difficulty values on floor. Why hasn’t it been named yet?
I think Yurchenko double backs are way harder than a Produnova. You can’t really compare skills on floor to skills on vault because the entries are totally different. On floor, a gymnast uses the power from her feet to tumble, whereas on vault gymnasts are tumbling off of their hands. They often have less height to work with coming off the table on vault, and because of that, they’re actually doing an extra half flip (a Yurchenko layout full is actually really a Yurchenko with one and a half layouts and a full twist because you have to do a half flip off of your hands to get your body upright again, and then the actual full flip afterwards).
A double front off vault is absolutely super difficult in terms of needing a ton of power, as is a double front on floor, but both are pretty easy to technically teach (I used to do double fronts off of a diving board into my pool when I was a kid with zero training), but the skill needed to do a Yurchenko double back is roughly nine billion times the skill needed to do a double tuck on floor. The timing, the power, the skill…if you don’t have everything completely together, you basically die. A double front off vault also comes with a huge risk, but it’s less of one than a Yurchenko double back.
Will the U.S. bring in a new choreographer for Jade Carey if they send her to worlds or other big meets?
I don’t know. It would be nice to see her with a more finessed routine, especially as she’s attempting to qualify on the event, but she gets more points for focusing on the execution of difficult tumbling and dance skills than she does for artistry so I think they’ll take whatever artistry deductions exist for now, since she’s outscoring basically everyone else in the world except Simone Biles on that event without artistry help, and then once it gets closer to the Olympics maybe they’ll think about hiring someone to work with her on the performance aspects.
Does Ragan Smith’s Ricna get deducted because she does a stalder, claps her feet together, and then straddles to release? Why does she do it like this?
I think it’s just a matter of how she was taught the skill and how she did drills to learn the skill, so it’s like a stylistic thing. There’s nothing that says she must hold the stalder position directly into the straddle, and technically the stalder and the Tkachev are two different skills combined into one, which is clearly how she trained it…but I could see judges not liking how it looks aesthetically and taking a tenth or something if they can justify it.
What is the record for the most consecutive times a gymnast has connected transitions on bars?
I think it’s like six or seven connected skills? I’m sure someone could do more if routines allowed for more than eight skills! It would be cool to see how long someone could go on connecting transitions back and forth.
How does Jordan Draper’s floor start from a 10 with only two passes?
Some gymnasts build in all of their required difficulty on floor by connecting multiple saltos in the same pass rather than doing three separate passes. A routine with a double pike, a Rudi, and a double tuck meets all of the requirements, but so does one with a whip half to Rudi and then a front full to front full, so she’s basically just squeezing all of the requirements into fewer tumbling lines than someone who prefers to do all of the requirements separately. For gymnasts who have been injured or who struggle with endurance, two tumbling lines is easier than three, but the skill needed to connect multiple skills in the same pass can be more difficult than doing three simpler passes on their own so it works out.
Do you think the 2008 code of points favored bar workers way too much? Would Shawn Johnson have beaten Nastia Liukin under a more fair code?
In a sense, yes, but Shawn also came in at a huge advantage on vault because even though her 6.5 D score was lower than what some of the best bar workers could reach on bars, vault E scores tend to be higher than bars, so they kind of balanced each other out…and let’s not forget that Shawn regularly beat Nastia in 2007 and 2008. The two went back and forth against one another because they were pretty evenly matched. What’s truly unfair in this code and most codes is how low beam and floor are scored in comparison to vault and bars. Even now, someone like Asia D’Amato is almost always going to beat someone like Eythora Thorsdottir with hit routines because the deductions on beam and floor are generally way harsher than on the other two events, as the routines are longer and there’s more to deduct for.
Do you think Maria Paseka deserves her medals despite her terrible form?
I think she deserves her medals because she’s doing exactly what the code asks for, which is difficulty. It’s not her fault that judges consistently reward her with high E scores for rough vaults. She basically sees that she can win the gold at worlds and at Euros with a super rough Cheng, so where’s the incentive to change anything? She can keep doing what she’s doing and her difficulty will always carry her through, unless she falls. She deserves her medals for doing what the code tells her to do, and it’s the judges and the code that need to change.
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Article by Lauren Hopkins