It’s time for the 279th edition of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered!
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Can a gymnast with only three tumbling passes on floor ever seriously challenge for a floor medal, if they did a super high-value combo (like Ellie Black’s 2½ through to triple full)?
I think if they could knock out three super high-value combos or just generally difficult passes (like something along the difficulty lines of the first three passes in Simone Biles’ routine), then yes, they might be able to challenge for a floor medal, especially if they perform that difficulty super well.
Brooklyn Moors didn’t have one of the more difficult routines in either 2017 or 2019 and she made the world final both years with scores that weren’t that far behind the medalists, and Nina Derwael made the final last year with two relatively easy passes and just a 5.0 D score, and it’s because both of them are incredibly clean with their tumbling, are also two of the best in terms of hitting dance elements correctly, and don’t lose basically anything in terms of artistry, so their E scores rival the gymnasts with the high D scores, and they’re able to compete at the same level on that event despite their tumbling not being as difficult across the board.
It’s possible for an “easier” routine to medal, but I think in the cases of Brooklyn and Nina and anyone else in their situation where they’re a solid half point or more in terms of difficulty, even with brilliant execution and performances they’re still going to come up a little bit short compared to the top D girls if the top D girls are all hitting relatively well. If a three-pass gymnast can do super difficult combinations/passes well, she definitely has a shot at matching the top gymnasts with four passes, but I think like Brooklyn and Nina, she might also have to rely on mistakes from the girls who are hitting the more difficult four-pass routines…though now that Brooklyn is adding a fourth pass, she’ll obviously be in even greater contention against the girls who were outscoring her last year!
What happened to Courtney McGregor? Assuming she can’t qualify for Tokyo, do you think New Zealand will be able to send a gymnast to the Olympics?
Courtney ruptured her Achilles in the first meet of the year, sadly. I believe she said that she could feel it pop while hurdling into her vault, so she ended up balking knowing she was injured. She had surgery, and the recovery time from this injury wouldn’t have given her enough time to prepare to hopefully qualify at the Oceania Championships, which were supposed to be held in April in conjunction with Pac Rims…but now that the Olympics have been postponed, she’ll have a second chance if the Oceanic continental qualifier ends up being pushed back to next year.
Had the Olympics continued this year, both Isabella Brett and Maia Fishwick could have been in contention for a spot in Tokyo. Maia actually outscored Courtney by about a tenth at worlds last year and is currently the fourth reserve for individuals in terms of qualification to the Games, so if the FIG decides to just take the next gymnasts in line based on worlds qualification finishes instead of holding the world cup and continental qualifiers going into the next year, Maia has a good chance at making it, given that there are three world cup all-around spots and seven continental spots available.
How can a senior class in NCAA have nine gymnasts, but others only have three? Don’t they have a limited quantity of gymnasts per class? Or is it more like a limited quantity of gymnasts on the whole team?
It’s a limited amount for the whole team. Each team that offers scholarships in Division I collegiate gymnastics is allowed for 12 scholarship gymnasts. I think most try to keep an even spread, because logistically it’s just easier, but the top NCAA programs always have to account for the Olympic contenders who have been deferring or postponing their freshman years to join in the same season, which is why a school like UCLA will have one billion scholarship athletes enter in the same year, and then like, one scholarship athlete coming in the next year. The balance is always a little wonky, and it can be difficult to plan a season when you’re dealing with multiple elites all trying to figure out when they’ll be able to start competing, but for the most part it ends up working out.
When will we know what teams will be competing at the NCAA regionals at UCLA?
NEVER!!!! The answer is never. But in a normal year where everything isn’t canceled, the regional sites are announced a few days after conference championships…there’s usually a live stream where commentators read out the full lists of all teams and individuals that are set for each site. Since the team order is based partly on regular season rankings, you can generally predict who’s gonna end up where prior to the big announcement, but since geography also factors in, sometimes there’s some shuffling around so it’s always just best to wait for the announcement to happen.
I know CSU Fullerton had a gymnastics program a while ago that was eventually axed. Do you think NCAA gymnastics will ever return to Southern California, or is UCLA too much of a stalwart to mix things up?
I don’t think UCLA being a strong team has anything to do with why there aren’t any other teams currently in Southern California…it’s mostly because schools don’t have the budget to either keep or start a team. CSU Fullerton got the axe because of budget constraints, and since it’s one of the more expensive sports, many colleges and universities just don’t have the funds to start or keep a program.
I would love to see USC add gymnastics, and think they’d get a ton of incredible recruits given that it’s a super expensive private university with great prestige. If they added a program, it could end up being a huge rival for UCLA, which would be SO MUCH FUN. There are also lots of smaller colleges and universities in the region that I think could do well in terms of recruiting…and then elsewhere in Southern California, there are other UC schools as well as CSU schools that would probably also get top gymnasts to consider them, like San Diego, Santa Barbara, Irvine, SDSU, Long Beach…the list goes on and on. I think any of these schools along with others in the region would end up being incredibly popular with recruits who for whatever reason don’t end up considering UCLA, or who aren’t recruited for UCLA, and if anything, I think it could make for an incredibly competitive region with programs that would eventually start to challenge UCLA.
Obviously the prestige of UCLA’s gymnastics program is a top reason most consider the program, and it’s not just about gymnasts wanting to live in Los Angeles, but I do think the location factors in for some, especially the walk-ons from Southern California clubs who basically only consider UCLA right now if they don’t want to go far from home. More programs would give them more options, and it would be exciting to see how good some of these teams could become in a relatively short period of time.
What will happen to MAG in the United States when Sam Mikulak finally retires?
So I think it’s actually kind of similar to WAG in the United States right now in terms of what happens when we don’t have Simone Biles competing in that while there’s no top star of the program in the way Sam is for U.S. MAG and Simone is for U.S. WAG, there’s still enough depth just below them to keep things moving in roughly the same direction.
Without Simone, the U.S. women aren’t as far ahead in competition compared to other countries, and they’re not going to come in and nearly sweep every gold in major international competitions, but they still have a pretty significant lead as a team and are capable of picking up several individual medals as well. Without Sam, the men’s team won’t be scoring quite as high, and they’d be less likely to make multiple individual finals, but their team ranking (somewhere in the range of fourth to eighth place at worlds or so depending on how well they hit in qualifications) shouldn’t be affected, and they’ll still get some guys into finals…like two guys into the all-around, and then perhaps an event final here or there as well.
Sam is definitely the star of the men’s program right now, but I think we have to realize that most of the other guys are still super young and are basically just starting their international careers as they come out of college and focus solely on elite competition. Right now, a lot of the younger guys are good, but still have tons of room to grow, and I think in the next quad we’ll see a lot of these really strong younger guys become able to add on to what they’ve already been doing at 18-22 or so while in school. I’m just imagining guys like Shane Wiskus, Brody Malone, Yul Moldauer, Akash Modi, Allan Bower (though I guess he’s going to med school which could obviously affect him going forward), and Trevor Howard in a few years and think the future is incredibly bright for the U.S. men with or without Sam in the mix.
I think if programs are overall healthy, there’s not going to be that much of an issue to transition to the next stage once the top stars retire, and I think the U.S. men will still be in a pretty good place to stay consistent with how they’re performing at top meets even without a “star.”
Would Isabela Onyshko, Emma Spence, or Audrey Rousseau have a chance of getting a spot for Canada at continental championships if Zoé Allaire-Bourgie is still injured? Based on the documents Canada has online, the team will likely be Emma, Isabela, Audrey, and Zoé if healthy, or Sophie Marois if not.
Assuming continental championships happen next year as they were expected to take place this year, then yes, Isabela, Emma, and Audrey would have all been among the strongest Pan Ams contenders, especially if the U.S. had already qualified its two individual spots through the all-around and apparatus world cups. I think a healthy Rebeca Andrade is going to be the top gymnast to contend with at Pan Ams, but then beyond her, the field isn’t super strong in terms of all-arounders, and so a “B team” Canadian could put up a solid 52 in the competition and qualify pretty easily.
The only other gymnasts who I think could really put up a fight would be Frida Esparza of Mexico, a couple of the Argentinian girls (like Abigail Magistrati or Ayelen Tarabini), and Jessica Lopez of Venezuela. Frida, Abigail, and Ayelen can all basically match the “B team” Canadians in the all-around on a good day, and Jessica at her top form in the past could easily surpass them, though obviously she hasn’t competed at all since the Olympic Games in 2016 so I have no idea how she’d look now, and whether she’d still be able to contend, but I’d still keep her in the mix.
Obviously a healthy Zoé Allaire-Bourgie is the safest bet for Canada at this meet, and now that everything’s shuffling due to the COVID-19 cancellations, maybe she’ll get the chance to do that for Canada next year…but I think Canada still has a really strong shot at making it happen with someone like Isabela, Emma, or Audrey on the squad.
If Laurie Hernandez gets picked to go to Tokyo, then she will have gone to two Olympics without ever having gone to worlds. Would this be unprecedented in the modern era of gymnastics, or has it happened before?
In the modern era, I think so…I can’t think of any other Olympians (from major programs or who were medalists, anyway) who only went to multiple Olympic Games without making it to any worlds…I’d guess in the 50s-60s (and earlier) it was probably more common with worlds only happening every four years, so it wouldn’t be odd for a gymnast to go to her first Olympics, then not make it to worlds two years later in the one year they’re offered, only to appear again at her second Olympics…but with worlds happening more consistently over the past few decades, you generally see gymnasts making it to both.
The latest judges’ instructions use Kara Eaker’s split ring as an example of when to apply the -0.3 body shape deduction. Do you know where gym fans can view the latest judges’ instructions?
I believe it was on the web-based program that judges use to stay up-to-date…it’s called Sports Training Systems and it’s free for judges, but anyone can subscribe for $5/month (and if you’re a gym nerd wanting to learn more about how routines are judged, it’s worth the subscription). I’m pretty sure this is where I first saw it, but they also have (or had, I haven’t seen them in a while) newsletters that pointed out various instructions, so it could have been in there…but I’m 99% sure it was on STS. I’ll edit this if I can figure it out!
Do you think it’s fair that the WTC can use currently active gymnasts to show skills being incorrectly performed? Wouldn’t it create a sort of bias?
So…in a sense, yes, it does create a bias because then judges might subconsciously assume the gymnast is always going to do that skill incorrectly even if she does make an effort to change. Since this is likely about Kara Eaker, if Kara does work on her ring positions and goes for a ring leap on beam that looks moderately okay but might just be a hair or two off, instead of getting the benefit of the doubt, judges are more likely to assume it was incorrect and dock her for it than if she wasn’t used as an example…but at the same time, this is true of any gymnast who consistently has problems with a certain skill whether they’ve been made an example of something or not, and I think someone like Kara who is now notorious for not doing a skill correctly is always going to have people second-guessing her on those elements regardless of her being an official example.
I don’t think it’s unfair, honestly…especially because most of the current trends in the sport are, well, CURRENT, and it makes the most sense to use a current example to illustrate the issue. Gymnasts starting to chuck two-foot layouts incorrectly became an issue in, what, like 2011-2013 or so? And so it made sense for the FIG to put out that video of gymnasts doing it incorrectly in that time period because everyone was basically having the same issue of piking down or showing leg separation, so to say “all of these layouts at the last world championships and Olympic Games were downgraded, and then all of these were credited” is the best way to teach judges what they should look for in a layout.
The interesting thing about Kara is that some international judges do credit her leaps – including the beam judges at worlds in 2018, and the beam judges at Pan Ams in 2019 – while others don’t, so I think they needed to use her as their example because the WTC is basically like hey judges, you’ve been crediting this and other ring leaps like it, and you shouldn’t be! Maybe it would’ve been “kinder” if they had included multiple incorrect ring leaps like Kara’s and created a kind of montage like they did with the two-foot layouts, but I do think it’s important that they’re all on the same page with what skills should and should not look like, and if Kara is the most notable example of this, then it makes sense to use her even if it’s rude, lol.
How is Dipa Karmakar expecting to make the Olympics? Has she officially announced she’s giving up? Her feature with the Olympic Channel made it seem like she was still planning on going.
This year, Dipa really had no way in, as 2019 worlds would have been her best shot. Her only other way of qualifying this year would have been at Asian Championships, where she would’ve had to been a top-two all-arounder outside of those who had already qualified, but there would have been a ton of competition for her there, with Japan and China most likely to earn the two spots, but South Korea, North Korea, and Chinese Taipei are also generally high in the all-around rankings there, in addition to individuals from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam also being more or less at Dipa’s level in the all-around.
With Dipa still injured going into this year, I don’t think Asian Championships would have been a way in for her, and while next year it’ll be equally difficult in terms of other contenders, she’ll at least have more of a fighting chance if she’s healthy. I honestly don’t see it happening for her, unfortunately, but I hope she at least gets the chance.
Was UCLA’s Anna Glenn injured this year? How about Bre Showers from Oklahoma?
Anna had an injury that kept her out of the early half of the season, though she was on the mend and hoping to be part of the lineups later on only to be stopped in her tracks by the season ending early. Bre Showers tore her ACL at the end of regular season last year and I believe this knee injury is what kept her out this year as well.
How does Maggie Haney’s suspension work – one that is pending an outcome prior to the trial?
Usually someone who is suspended pending investigation or a hearing has to follow all of the rules of a typical suspension, but they could potentially have the suspension lifted if they’re cleared. Instead of letting a coach continue to be around minors until their fate is officially decided and they’re banned, I think it makes sense to suspend them in the interim so that you’re not prematurely banning them if it turns out to be nothing super wrong, but you’re also keeping them away from kids and limiting any future harm should the accusations end up being legitimate. I do think we have to see these cases as “innocent until proven guilty” but I also think it’s important to protect children as a priority over protecting adult reputations, so a temporary suspension is a good middle ground that says “we’re taking this super seriously, but we’re also not going to officially drop a punishment until we know for sure.”
I know the nominative berths for Tokyo are limited to two-per-country, but can those two spots both be earned through the apparatus world cups (e.g. Fan Yilin on UB and Li Qi on BB)? If two spots can be earned, what happens if Weng Hao (PH), Liu Yang (SR), and You Hao (PB) each win their respective events at the conclusion of the series? Would the points of the gymnast who misses out be redistributed, or would the next-ranked gymnast take the spot without the redistribution of points (since redistribution can change the order of the rankings)?
Only one spot per country can be earned via the apparatus world cups, and there are tie-breakers set in place to determine which athlete from that country will earn a spot. Because scores from event to event vary greatly (like for WAG, vault and bars scores tend to be a billion times higher than beam and floor scores), the tie-breaker between events comes down to which athlete has the highest average of overall rankings throughout the entire world cup series.
As the rankings currently stand, Yilin’s average ranking is 26.5, while Qi’s is 24.333, so if China were still sending Qi to the world cup events and she happened to win the beam series title, Yilin would get the Olympic spot. For the men, Hao’s average is 28.75, Yang’s is 30, and Hao’s is 26.25, so Yang would get the Olympic spot over his teammates.
The FIG hasn’t clarified if they’ll redistribute the points of a gymnast who has already qualified a spot, or whose country has already qualified an apparatus spot via the world cups. If Jade Carey qualifies on vault, for example, we don’t know if her floor rankings would be redistributed or if they’d just take the current standings with Jade as the series winner with the next-in-line getting the spot as the reserve with Jade now “ineligible” on floor due to her vault win. I think they’d do the latter, because logistically it just works out better, but again, the FIG doesn’t seem to have a rule for this.
I have gone through and redistributed points for a few events and compared them to not redistributing, and overall, the rankings at the top end up being roughly the same, so I don’t think it will affect much…but women’s floor is where there is the most potential for redistribution to affect the rankings because Lara Mori and Vanessa Ferrari are so close, so they’d kinda have to put a rule in place for this in advance.
Who were the scholarship athletes for UCLA this season?
The scholarship athletes I’m 100% sure about in the 2020 season were Nia Dennis, Norah Flatley, Margzetta Frazier, Anna Glenn, Grace Glenn, Felicia Hano, Madison Kocian, Kyla Ross, Kalyany Steele, Macy Toronjo, and Pauline Tratz, and then I think the 12th is Samantha Sakti but I don’t recall if there was any information about whether she was offered a scholarship as part of her transfer, or if she chose to come in as a walk-on despite previously having a scholarship at William & Mary. I would imagine she has a scholarship, though.
Edit: Samantha is not on scholarship, and that 12th scholarship belongs to Sekai Wright!
Jade Carey is pretty much a lock to get an Olympics spot. Can the U.S. pick the second specialist at Olympic Trials, or would they have to qualify her previously?
Assuming the U.S. would’ve qualified the second individual through the all-around world cup, the spot would be nominative and they could name who receives that spot at Olympic Trials.
Who is the nominee for the 2020 AAI Award that people are saying stole her teammate’s credit card and is a criminal?
This is Morgan Porter of Missouri, who was SEC Freshman of the Year in 2016 (and was the first Missouri freshman to get this honor), but then was arrested following her freshman season for stealing money from her roommate to pay her rent. She was suspended following her arrest, but her suspension was lifted just prior to the 2017 season (though she ended up getting injured and missing it anyway). There’s a lot of drama here because of her preferential treatment with the Mizzou coaches, and people on the team are either super pro-Morgan or super anti-Morgan (with most of the anti-Morgan people also leaving the team for various reasons). I don’t want to take a side in the drama because the stories from both sides are so opposite, without actually being there, it’s impossible to know…I can just hope that Morgan has changed her ways and that anyone who felt like the environment at that program is now safely away from it and happier than they were when there.
Do you think many of Russia’s seniors will retire after Tokyo?
I think we might see a few retire…there were a few first-year seniors this quad who ended up not being super productive and missing out on international assignments, so I think several of these might end up retiring and moving on from the sport, but in terms of the top seniors, I can see many deciding to stay in the sport. Like, I don’t see Angelina Melnikova retiring for some reason? And then the younger ones like Vladislava Urazova and Elena Gerasimova will be super likely to stick around as well.
Do you think Amelie Morgan’s wrist injury will recover in time for the English and British Championships, and possibly the Europeans and the Olympics?
Well, now that the English and British Championships are canceled, and Euros and the Olympics postponed, I think Amelie should have more than enough time to recover and get back into good enough shape to contend next year!
I feel like I saw a layout Pak with a half turn (I think you call it a bail) long before I saw layout Paks. Usually adding a half turn makes a skill harder, but is the Pak harder because of having to pike under the bar after catching? Which is worth more?
A bail isn’t a layout Pak with a half turn! A Pak involves a salto between the high and low bars, but there’s no salto in a bail, so it’s a completely different kind of skill, and despite having a half turn, it’s roughly the same level of difficulty in terms of performing it that goes into a Pak. The difficult thing about the Pak is that you’re completing a full salto before catching, and the difficult thing about the bail is that you’re doing a half turn from your underswing before catching…so they’re both difficult but for different reasons.
I think a legit Pak with a half turn wouldn’t really be possible because of the way the body position ends up being when it’s time to catch the bar…and I think if someone were to do a salto with a half turn between the bars, it wouldn’t necessarily be the same thing as a true Pak because the way a gymnast would have to catch a salto with a half turn would be wildly different from what a Pak requires.
Did Nicki Shapiro’s return to UCLA have anything to do with Miss Val being gone?
I’m not sure what her reasoning was for leaving, but according to the press around her return, she wanted to “pursue other interests” and stopped training completely, but then decided to start training again. I don’t know what her relationship with Miss Val was like, and I’m not going to speculate about it, but it was cool to see her return after so much time away!
If you connect an Ezhova straight out of a shap half or some kind, do you get an empty swing deduction? I thought shap half skills were exempt from that rule.
No, there wouldn’t be an empty swing deduction out of any sort of shap half…but they wouldn’t credit the connection because of the intermediate swing between the two. I think the only thing you can realistically directly connect a shap half to would be like, a counter Kim or something (which Melanie De Jesus Dos Santos has trained)…like technically you could keep your swing going up out of a shap half and into a Tkachev but physically I don’t think you’d have enough momentum to get it around, which is why most just kip out of a shap half.
What are the different “positions” in NCAA lineups, like lead-off, anchor, and so on?
So officially there are no “positions,” and lead-off and anchor pretty much cover the terms used to describe who goes where. A line-up has six gymnasts, and the first gymnast who goes up is called the lead-off while the last gymnast who goes up is called the anchor, but there really isn’t any name for the middle spots…sometimes you’ll hear something like “in the two-spot is so and so” but more commonly people will just say “up second” or “up fourth” when referring to the other spots.
Generally “lead-off” insinuates that the gymnast is a solid and confident gymnast who can kick things off with a strong routine to set the tone for the rest of the rotation, while the anchor is usually someone who’s going to come in with a killer routine and get a big score, because often scores do tend to build from the beginning to the end and coaches will try to set lineups to follow that pattern, but yeah, in terms of “positions” there aren’t any officially.
Why did Tienna Nguyen’s eponymous turn only get a C value? The double L and the double wolf are both D-valued elements. If anything, the Nguyen would seem to be moderately more difficult, not a tenth lower.
Her turn is rated a D! It’s the same as both the double L turn and the double wolf turn. I do think the Nguyen is more difficult than the other two but I also don’t think it’s worth an E compared to the other E-rated skills, which is why difficulty values of dance elements on floor need more range!
Is Aliya Mustafina still training? Does she plan to compete anytime soon?
Aliya was just featured in an interview that shows that she’s pretty out of gymnastics shape right now, and if Tokyo were still happening this summer, she wouldn’t really have had a chance to prepare in time…but she said she does want to compete again and now that the Olympics have been pushed back, I don’t doubt AT ALL that she could make it happen. Tbh, even if the Olympics were happening this summer, I wouldn’t doubt Aliya just showing up like “I’m just gonna try a bars routine” and then throwing a 7.0 routine and winking on the dismount like “you’re always wrong about me, always.”
I know Jade Carey is vying for the fifth Olympic apparatus spot, but who could be up for the sixth spot, and what competitions are qualifiers? When will we know if Jade is “in” if you will?
It’s hard now that we don’t know what the FIG is going to do with all of the qualifiers, but if things were going on as normal, Jade has basically already locked down an individual spot, and if they keep the current apparatus rankings, and if Doha is held in June, she will secure that spot officially in June. The U.S. is likely to get a non-nominative berth through the sixth spot, but no one would qualify directly to this spot, and the U.S. would name the athlete who receives the spot probably at Olympic Trials.
Can you fill in the blanks on Olivia Dunne in 2019, since I can’t find any news? Did she miss the entire year recovering from injuries?
Olivia had an injury in 2019 and chose to not go to camp early in the year, and then also ended up not competing throughout the rest of the season. She then decided to drop down to level 10 for her final season before going off to college, and before everything got shut down due to COVID-19, she was having an incredibly successful J.O. season, winning back-to-back invitationals and placing second and third at the other two she competed at. In just the four meets she did this year, she also took five event titles across vault, beam, and floor. Now LSU is next up for Olivia, and I think she’s going to be a huge star for the program and am so excited to see her join the team!
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Article by Lauren Hopkins