You Asked, The Gymternet Answered


Jade Carey

It’s time for the 261st 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).

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According to this quad’s qualifying rules, there are two non-nominative spots that can be potentially earned by a country that qualifies a full team, right? The first is through the world cup apparatus series which is what Jade Carey is vying for. Where and how is the other spot earned?

A country that qualifies a full team can earn two individual spots, both of which can be non-nominative, or they can earn one nominative spot and one non-nominative. The world cup apparatus series is the only way for a country with a full team to earn a nominative spot, which is the spot Jade is vying for. 

The two non-nominative spots can be earned via the all-around world cup and continental championships, but spots are earned in the order the competitions happen, and right now, the apparatus world cups finish first, followed by the all-around world cups, and then the continental championships, so if Jade gets a nominative spot at the apparatus world cups and then the U.S. earns a non-nominative spot at the all-around world cups, they wouldn’t be eligible to earn a non-nominative spot at continental championships because they’ve already earned their two individual spots.

How many spots can a nation which DOES NOT qualify a full team earn for Tokyo overall? Can a country that qualifies an all-arounder also qualify gymnasts through event finals? Can they also earn additional spots through continental championships and the apparatus world cups?

Basically, yes, a country that qualifies an all-arounder at worlds can qualify multiple different gymnasts through multiple different means. 

It ends up being seven total — one through the all-around at worlds, up to three through event finals at worlds, one through the apparatus world cup series, one through the all-around world cup series, and one through continental championships (continental spots are nominative for countries without full teams, btw). 

However, if a nation had this many gymnasts qualifying in this many ways, they would have EASILY qualified a full team, so there’s no way this is going to happen…also, the all-around world cup stipulation is super weird because the FIG says a nation must “not qualify a full team to Tokyo BUT finish in the top 12 at world championships” which like…I suppose is possible if the U.S., Russia, or China placed outside the top 12, in which case only the top 11 teams at worlds would qualify to Tokyo and the 12th-place team would thus be top 12 and not qualify a full team…but that’s almost 100% not going to happen, so I wouldn’t count on a world cup all-around spot for countries hoping to earn individual spots.

I think Mexico is one good example…let’s say Elsa Garcia gets a spot through the all-around at worlds, Alexa Moreno could then get a spot through the vault final at worlds, and then Frida Esparza could go to Pan Ams and get another spot. I think this will be the most likely scenario for a country hoping to earn as many individual spots as possible.

Apparatus world cup tie-break question…what happens if a gymnast gets one-per-country’ed out of one of those spots, but then their compatriot withdraws? Say Fan Yilin and Jonna Adlerteg finish first and second on bars, and then Li Qi and Emma Nedov are first and second on beam, which gives Fan the bars spot, and then gives Nedov the beam spot. But then Fan gets injured and withdraws…who gets her spot? Would this then change the bars and beam spots to Adlerteg and Li?

They definitely won’t go back and take away a spot someone earned in a case like this, so if this exact scenario happened, only the bars spot would change with Jonna coming in and taking it over (assuming she doesn’t qualify through the all-around at worlds), and China would lose its apparatus world cup spot entirely.

Can you explain the Jade Carey situation? Is she still eligible to make the four-person U.S. team? Does she have to accept the individual bid if she wins vault or floor in the world cup standings?

Yes, Jade is still eligible to make the U.S. team, but if she earns an apparatus world cup spot and then makes the team, she’d have to give up her nominative spot, and it would go to the next-in-line on vault or floor at the world cup, and the U.S. would lose one of its individual spots. There’s basically no way in hell the U.S. will throw one of its spots away, so if Jade gets her nominative spot, she absolutely will not be added to the team. 

The FIG doesn’t have a process for “giving up” the nominative spot, but they do allow for gymnasts to withdraw for injury, so it’s possible they’d also allow for Jade to withdraw from the process in advance of the world cups ending (or prior to continental championships, which would open it up for the U.S. to earn a second non-nominative spot on top of the all-around world cup spot).

Is Ella Zirbes okay? There was an odd moment on floor in her routine at the U.S. Classic!

Yes, she’s fine! I thought it was a weird moment as well, she looked like she was stunned for a moment, but she finished the routine with no problems and then went on to have a solid nationals! Maybe she blanked on choreo or something?

Would you prefer to see a cold stuck element executed with form errors or one with steps on the landing executed very cleanly?

It depends on the severity of form errors or landing errors…I think in most cases I’d rather see a clean skill with a step on the landing, though I think watching in real time, if a skill has some minor mistakes and is then stuck cold, I think that landing kind of erases the memory of the minor form mistakes in the air for most people! And by most people I mean every single NCAA judge.

Why did Seda Tutkhalyan miss the Russian Cup?

I don’t know the process in terms of which athletes are invited and which aren’t, but at nationals she finished ahead of many gymnasts who competed at the Russian Cup, so I’m guessing it’s related to something more recent, perhaps injuries or just not training at a hundred percent? I kinda feel like the Russian Cup field is 10% results, 90% Valentina Rodionenko’s whim, so it could be really anything but it’s too bad she wasn’t there, I was hoping to see some progress!

Do you think Canada has a good chance at the podium at worlds this year?

Yes, I do! If they hit, they’re capable of scoring in the same range as many of the top teams, many of which have a chance at the worlds podium.

I was looking through Instagram pictures of UCLA and found this girl I’ve never seen before, Tami Chalom. She competes for the Bruins but like, as a club? I don’t understand the concept…do they have the NCAA team and a separate club team?

Yes, UCLA has a club team…lots of colleges do, including many that don’t have varsity teams! Club teams are usually student-run and operate entirely separately from the varsity teams, and they have gymnasts of all different levels, but most often you see those who came from lower J.O. optional levels and wouldn’t have been recruitable for collegiate programs, but they want to continue doing gymnastics as adults and so this is their outlet. 

UCLA’s club program is for both men and women, and they have a national championships every year where gymnasts can sign up to compete individually or as part of a club team. Both collegiate club teams and “community” club teams can compete (5280 has a really strong adult gymnastics program that competes, for example), and at nationals they have both categories as well as an overall category to determine winners.

A bunch of UCLA’s club gymnasts competed at NAIGC nationals this year across all levels. NAIGC nationals has levels 7-9 for the women’s program, and then they also have a “developmental” level which includes gymnasts competing at a skill level below level 7. The gymnast you mentioned, Tami, competed level 8, and fun fact — one of the UCLA club team’s level 8 competitors is Janessa Dai, a gymnast who represented Singapore at Commonwealth Games and world championships! Another one of UCLA’s level 8 gymnasts made the all-around final at nationals this year, finishing third.

The coolest thing about club gymnastics is that men and women can compete either discipline, so you will see many women competing the MAG program, and vice versa…and this year, a man named Justin Michaels won the WAG all-around title at the developmental level! Here’s his floor routine, where he shows more artistry than most elite women.

What E score do you think Nastia Liukin’s balance beam routine at Pac Rims 2008 would get in 2018?

I would say a 9.0+ easily at a meet where judging is a little lax…but at a meet like worlds, probably an 8.5+ because it’s THAT GOOD. Still one of my favorite routines ever. I remember seeing the E score for that initially before seeing the routine and being like “eye roll YEAH RIGHT” but then I saw the routine and died and went to heaven.

What are your thoughts about Aly Raisman’s legal declaration that she has no intention of settling with USA Gymnastics in bankruptcy court? Wouldn’t that be her best chance for a financial payout?

So this is just me guessing, as I don’t know for sure, but I think for Aly it’s more about having her voice heard than getting a payout, and simply settling doesn’t give her the opportunity to speak out about what went so drastically wrong with USA Gymnastics, its toxic culture, and how they mishandled the Larry Nassar investigation.

Is Jade Carey going for worlds this year? Wouldn’t she not be eligible for the team if she’s going the world cup route?

Yes, Jade is hoping to make the worlds team this year. The only gymnasts ineligible for the world cups are those who helped a team qualify to the Olympic Games, and since the U.S. already qualified last year, Jade can compete at worlds this year and still attempt to earn a world cup spot for the Olympics.

Shawn Johnson said in a recent interview that she turned professional when she was 13. Are junior gymnasts allowed to turn pro?

Yes they are. In the past, gymnasts would occasionally go pro as juniors, but now I think many gymnasts and coaches know how difficult it can be to stay at the highest level long enough to reap the benefits of going pro (and they see the cases of Rebecca Bross where it doesn’t work out and then her collegiate eligibility is down the toilet), and so most will wait until the Olympics are a guarantee before making the decision. 

How will alternates work for Tokyo? If a member of the team needs to be replaced at the last minute, can they sub in a non-nominative individual and replace that person with an alternate? Or do they have to use an official team alternate?

They can’t sub in athletes for the team at the last minute, whether the sub would be an individual competitor or an actual alternate. Final teams are due 24 hours prior to qualifications beginning, and so if an alternate is going to compete, the decision has to be made before that window closes. But prior to it closing, either an individual or an alternate can be selected to sub in for an injured athlete, so it’s definitely possible that this could happen if a team is struggling with injuries after podium training or something.

This is especially great for teams that don’t bring alternates with them to the Games. Because alternates can’t train with the team or stay in the Olympic village, federations have to work out the details for its alternates, and for many teams that just name one alternate, they don’t think it’s worth the expense to bring them along “just in case.” Italy didn’t bring Lara Mori in 2016, for example, and so if the team had an injury prior to qualifications, they would’ve had to either fly Lara in last-minute, or just compete with four gymnasts. Next year, however, if they have a team of four as well as an individual competitor, if someone is injured in training, if their alternate is stuck in Italy, they’ll at least have an individual competing that they could swap onto the team to help out.

Is Céline van Gerner retired? I heard she had an operation last year and wanted to be back for worlds this year but I haven’t heard anything about her this year.

Yes, she just recently announced her retirement. I think her goal was to come back and make the teams this year and next year, but unfortunately she just wasn’t able to get there in time…though she’s a two-time Olympian and her final routine ever was her legendary cat routine at Euros, so I think regardless of what she could’ve done going forward, she went out as a queen.

Is there a minimum age requirement to qualify junior elite? If a Hopes gymnast reached the all-around score threshold at the American Classic, can she go to nationals as a junior elite? If not, why not? If they are getting elite-level scores, what is the benefit of staying in Hopes?

Internationally, a “junior elite” is someone who is 14 or 15 years old, so even if a gymnast can qualify elite at 10 or 11, she wouldn’t be eligible for major international FIG competitions like Euros, Pan Ams, or now junior worlds. Some competitions like Jesolo, Gymnix, and Pac Rims don’t have these FIG age restrictions, so you’ll occasionally see younger gymnasts competing at meets like these, but only gymnasts who are 14-15 can compete at the “big” meets.

Most countries will separate their national-level competitions into junior elite (girls who meet the international standards) and a separate “espoirs” or “youth” level (those under age 14). The U.S., however, allows gymnasts as young as 10 to qualify to junior elite even though they wouldn’t be able to represent the country at major international meets, and so at nationals, the junior level is open to those aged 10-15 instead of broken up into separate “levels” of juniors.

Before Hopes became a bigger thing, you’d often see gymnasts of that age attempting to qualify straight to elite (Jordyn Wieber and Laurie Hernandez, for example, were both 10 when they first qualified to the junior elite level). Now that Hopes is becoming more prestigious, coaches see it as a better option than trying to get their athletes to qualify elite at a young age, and most younger gymnasts are sticking to Hopes competition until they’re 12 or 13 so they can have more time to get used to the differences between J.O. and elite before making the decision to go all the way. 

That’s really the benefit of Hopes…instead of risking bigger difficulty and skills to attempt elite at a very young age, Hopes offers a slower-and-steadier path that’s still super competitive, but that doesn’t pit 11-year-olds against 15-year-olds, so younger gymnasts don’t feel pressured to up their difficulty to be competitive against much older gymnasts.

Because Hopes uses modified rules, a gymnast who gets an elite-level score at a Hopes qualifier can’t decide to jump up to the elite level. The Hopes rules make it easier to score higher than they would if they were using straight-up elite rules, so a gymnast who gets a 51 at a Hopes qualifier might be half a point (or more) lower using the actual elite code. A gymnast who attempts to qualify junior elite, misses the score, but gets the Hopes score can use her junior elite qualifying scores to qualify Hopes, however.  

Is Laurie Hernandez eligible to do the individual world cup route because of her Olympic beam medal? Does she have a shot at getting a beam spot?

Yes, she fits the qualification standards Tom Forster set last year, so she could conceivably go to the world cups and attempt to qualify a spot. Beam right now is the most unpredictable of all of the world cups, so if Laurie gets back in time to go to Melbourne, Baku, and Doha in 2020 and then is amazing and wins all three, then yes, she will have a shot on beam…but keep in mind, the U.S. can only qualify one nominative spot through the world cups and Jade will already be in the running to win one on vault, which would likely take Laurie out of the picture. I think more likely for Laurie getting to Tokyo would be her showing up to U.S. domestic meets next year, looking amazing on one or two events, and then being awarded the non-nominative spot after U.S. trials…but she’d be in contention with many others for this spot, so of course it’s not going to be easy.

In your posts about Olympic qualification, you refer to the abbreviation NOC. What does that stand for?

NOC is National Olympic Committee, and it’s how the FIG refers to federations. I use it interchangeably with “country” or “nation” or “federation.” When I talk about FIG rules, though, I tend to use their language, and they use NOC as the “official” term…but when they say “list of entrants in order of NOC” they basically mean “list of entrants in order of country.”

Why are individual apparatus world cups and world challenge cups categorized separately?

I don’t know why the FIG decided to categorize them differently in the past…obviously now the world cups are Olympic qualifiers, whereas the challenge cups aren’t, but in the past the only thing that really separated them was the amount of money in the purse for the winners being higher at the world cups. I guess it makes sense to have one more “prestigious” series, and then another series that more lower-level gymnasts would be inspired to attend as it would be easier to win titles, but aside from that I’m not sure why the FIG decided to have two separate series for what is essentially the same kind of meet.

How can Larisa Iordache qualify for the Olympics, assuming Romania doesn’t qualify a full team?

Since she’s not going to world championships this year, if Romania doesn’t qualify a team, her only hope would be the last three meets of the apparatus world cup next year and hoping to jump up in the rankings to win one of her best events (beam or floor), or earning one of the two all-around spots at Euros, which I think is the more likely for her.

What do you think the likely career path is for Alyona Shchennikova going forward, especially now that she’s injured? Does she have any path to 2020, or is she likely to just head to college?

I don’t really see the Olympics in the picture for her, and would’ve said the same thing regardless of her injury, but I was hoping that she would stick around at the elite level to at least be a part of the Olympic trials, which is a huge accomplishment in the U.S. and often ends up being a career highlight for gymnasts who don’t make the Olympic team, so even if making the actual team would be difficult for her, it would’ve been cool to see her go through the trials process…but reportedly, she is starting at LSU with the current class and will hopefully be competing bars and beam next season.

If Zoé Allaire-Bourgie wasn’t injured, how do you think she would have done at junior worlds?

I think she would’ve been right up there with many of the top competitors…most likely top eight in the all-around, and then possibly a few event finals as well. I think she could’ve had a shot at bars, beam, and floor realistically, with bars and beam most likely assuming she hit in qualifications.

Do you think Elena Eremina can make the Olympic team?

Right now, it’s not looking super likely…she looks great in terms of her gymnastics looking clean and lovely for the most part, but even this is a huge accomplishment after the kind of surgery she had, and I’m not sure how much difficulty she can get back while still staying clean and consistent. It will be great to see if she can at least try to get it back, because Russia clearly needs depth and she would be a great addition to what they already have, but Russia also has Vladislava Urazova and Elena Gerasimova coming up next year to make it even harder for Elena to stand out, so basically it’ll take a lot of work to put her in the mix. I’d love to see her make it happen, but it’s not going to be easy.

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

27 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. LSU has confirmed that Alyona is heading straight to Baton Rouge for fall classes and their ability to give her more intensive and beneficial therapy. They are hoping she will be able to compete bars and beam for the 2020 season.


  2. So proud of Aly for refusing to settle. Many settlement contracts require people to stay silent about what was done to them and sometimes require that one doesn’t slander the organization. Proud of her for putting her voice over money. And I’m happy that she feels that she’s in a position where she can do that as many other gymnasts likely don’t. They often feel like that’s their only chance at justice.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The FIG is somewhat sloppy with using the term NOC. In their Technical Regulations and Statutes they define NF as National Federation (associated or affiliated) and they use that abbreviation in those documents. Then, for some reason, in the Worlds results book they write Entry list by NOC, even though the NOCs have nothing to do with the Worlds entry lists. The distinction is actually important when we speak about Olympics. Then the NOCs have everything to do with entry lists. NFs cannot decide things on their own or communicate directly with the IOC or the local organizing committee.


    • Yeah, I find their distinction confusing for sure since the actual NOC has nothing to do with gymnastics teams! I usually use NOC when talking about qualifications (like when the FIG will say something like “1 spot per NOC” or whatever), but when writing about a federation, I’ll just say federation or nation, not NOC.


  4. Hi. You sited me, Tami Chalom as a developmental gymnast for UCLA, but I competed level 8 for UCLA all three years I was there except for one competetion when I was injured. No worries but remember to fact check 😂


  5. It would be refreshing to see a Gymternet roundup without a word
    about the late Larry Nasser affair.

    This country has long been called the land of second chances.
    A failed business can go through bankruptcy and restart its business,
    afresh. USA Gymnastics has gone through moral bankruptcy. Now
    restarted, USA Gymnastics should and can get on with its purpose.
    America’s gymnasts, female and male, of all ages, deserve its support
    under its new leadership.

    And to do so without the residual carping.


    • Calling it the “late LN affair* is insulting. The survivors are still dealing with the effects of it. It is very current and hasn’t gone away or died for them with the “restarted” USAG.
      When an organisation has shown over and over that it has not learnt any lessons or changed their culture, they deserve to be called on it.
      You can support the gymnasts while criticising the organisations culture- the two are not mutually exclusive.


    • I haven’t decided yet…I believe in Laurie and am optimistic, but at the same time I’m realistic about how far she’ll get this late in the game. Deep down I think her chances for the Olympics are very low, but I do think we’ll see her compete , even if just on beam.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The complications of agent and advertiser pressure probably delayed Shawn’s bowing out in 2012, but Shawn did come back. She competed at 2011 Nationals, made the National team, was an alternate to the World team and went on to win a gold and silver medal at Pan Ams that year. She came back. That wasn’t a publicity stunt.


  6. Technically Larisa Iordache has the third way qualifying for Tokyo, very very convoluted rules 😛

    1) Romania finished exactly 12th in worlds 2019
    2) Russia (the more likely one than USA or China) ranked behind Romania in TQ, then Romania qualifies for AA World Cup series 2020 without qualifying a full team
    3) Romania somehow ranks top 3 in AA World Cup series, and they get a nominative spot
    4) Romania choose to send Larisa to Tokyo

    Each of this happening has like 0.1% odds, not mentioning all these happening together

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Around the Gymternet: A failure of epic proportions | The Gymternet

  8. Quick correction, a country that did not qualify to the Olympics as a full team cannot earn 7 individual spots.

    It was stated that one spot can be won at the AA World Cup circuit next year. However, a team that didn’t qualify as a full team will not be part of the AA World Cup series. I highly doubt that any of the top ranked teams will turn down the World Cup AA series given that it can qualify a nominative slot.


    • Yes, they can. It’s highly unlikely that this will happen, which is why I mentioned that as a caveat in that answer, but if one of the teams that qualified last year (Russia, China, the U.S.) finishes outside the top 12 this year, then the team that ranks 12th will not have qualified a full team to Tokyo but they’d be eligible to attend the all-around world cups. Again, not going to happen, but the FIG includes it as a possible spot if for some reason one of those top three teams had something go wildly wrong in prelims.


  9. I honestly hate the NCAA/professional crap rules. When I was 8, I was an extra the movie “Newsies”. I did some BHSs and a back tuck off a wooden crate during some of the musical numbers. My parents didn’t know it would negate my NCAA eligibility. Sabrina Mar was an extra in “Annie”, and the same thing happened. Think of how Vanessa Atler would’ve benefited from a positive collegiate experience after 2000…but she ate a Reese’s cup on a beam in a commercial when she was 16. It’s really stupid.


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