You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 285th 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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Please note that I am offline for the month of June, and am posting a backlog of questions and answers in the meantime. If you submit a question, it will not be answered until at least July!

Thank you, and stay safe!

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Could you provide any update on the Addy De Jesus situation or what’s going on with Nebraska as a whole right now? I understand Addy was dismissed for “violation of team rules,” but how can that be possible when they have not been on campus with the COVID-19 pandemic? It also seems really odd that only one gymnast is left from that recruiting class. 

She just announced that she has transferred to UCLA, so I hope she finds a better environment for her there! I don’t know what was going on with her at Nebraska, and unless she decides to come out and talk about her issues there, we’re probably not going to know about what rules she violated so it doesn’t really help to speculate. That said, I’ve known gymnasts who were in violation of team rules for simply just not meeting GPA requirements, so don’t go nuts with your theories. It could be something very minor, not like she was out regularly robbing banks or whatever people are spreading rumors about on Twitter, haha. 

I do think this was a rough year for Nebraska, especially for this recruiting class as you’ve said, and especially because it all seemed to come on the heels of Kamerin Moore’s complaints about her time in the program, but I don’t know any more than you do about what was going on in this particular situation, and everything I’ve been seeing has just been rumors with nothing to back them up, so I won’t really say anything until we know for sure.

Can you provide any information about the Finnegan sisters? Almost nobody knows about Hannah and Jennah. Did they attend college?

So yeah, everyone knows Sarah and Aleah because they did elite, but the other sisters were also gymnasts. Hannah was part of the Missouri team beginning in the 2014 season, but I don’t think she ended up doing much, if anything at all? And then she became a student coach for a bit, but I honestly don’t ever remember seeing her. As for Jennah, she was the least gymnastically-inclined in the family, and I believe she made it to level 9 before retiring.

I was rewatching the MAG all-around from Rio and saw that the gymnast from Colombia did his p-bars dismount from the end of the bars, rather than over the side. Is there any reason all others are over the sides?

The dismounts over the sides are generally more difficult, so the top gymnasts are generally going to be the ones doing the double backs or double fronts off the side, because they’re just valued higher than the majority of the dismounts off the front…and the best guys will be adding twists to their side dismounts as well, so that they’re at about an F or a G. The highest-valued dismount off the end of the bars is a double double, which is only an F, so it’s not super worth the trouble.

Jossimar Calvo is an incredible p-bars gymnast, and his dismount off the front of the bars is a full-in, so it’s still got pretty great difficulty, and that’s fine for him because the rest of his routine is also super difficult…but most guys are going to want to work toward that even greater level of difficulty off the side, so it’s basically just become compulsory to do things that way.

Do you think Amelie Morgan will continue her competitive gymnastics career in 2021 and go for that Olympic spot (and also worlds), or do you think she’ll make her college debut instead?

I have a feeling, since she is one of the strongest British all-arounders right now, that she will want to keep going at the elite level through to 2021 with the expectation of possibly making the team, or at least getting an alternate role. She’s rare for GB in that she’s a top all-arounder who is a major standout on beam, so while I think the bulk of the team is going to be filled out with veterans, there’s going to be one spot for a solid all-arounder with great beam, and I think that spot’s going to be either Amelie or Alice Kinsella. 

Alice is more proven at the senior level on this event, but with Amelie’s injuries kind of keeping her in the shadows throughout her short senior career, she still has a lot she can show, and I think she’ll absolutely be in the mix. It’s definitely worth it for her to stick around, and she’s also still going to be very young in 2021, so I believe she’s not even committed until the 2021-2022 season anyway, so she wouldn’t even have to defer. She could go to the Olympics and then just go to school as planned.

Were McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas, or Carly Patterson ever verbally committed to a college?

I don’t believe any of them ever were. With McKayla and Gabby, I’m kind of 99% sure because while they may have done recruitment visits, they both went pro after 2011 worlds without ever having made an announcement about verbally committing, so it’s possible they had a program in mind, but neither ever said anything about actually verballing. As for Carly, I’m pretty sure she never committed, especially because she was so young when she went pro, and in the early 2000s they didn’t tend to announce a commitment as early as they do now. Again, she likely thought about it before she became a huge deal in the sport, but I don’t think she ever actually announced anything.

When I have been watching replays of the Olympics, I noticed that the same short-haired woman seems to be sitting with the U.S. women. She is not a coach. Her role is unclear, but she is always there. She sits with the athletes and coaches and moves with them from event to event. Who is she and what is her role?

I think you’re talking about Debbie Van Horn, who was the trainer who worked with Larry Nassar, and who was with USA Gymnastics until 2016 (she was charged with second-degree sexual assault in 2018 as Larry’s accomplice, but those charges were dropped this year). She was generally the trainer on the floor during competitions who did a lot of the taping and things like that, from what I usually saw at major meets.

If the U.S. decided that their best Olympic team should have Jade Carey on it, do you think they would put her on the team and have one less spot at the Olympics?

Absolutely not. At this point, Tom Foerster has made it pretty clear that Jade would have to decide whether she wants to try for a spot on the team or earn an individual spot prior to earning an individual spot, because once she gets that spot, it belongs to her and if she gives it up for every reason, the U.S. would lose one of its six allotted berths, because a nominative spot for a U.S. gymnast would go to the reserve from the world cups, NOT to the U.S. There’s no way in HELL the U.S. would just give away a spot just to have Jade on the team, so even if she were to go to Olympic Trials and finish second all-around, she’s still not making the team if she already has her individual berth secured.

Why do you think He Kexin wasn’t on the 2007 worlds team when she was eligible under that quad’s rules, especially since she had a 7.1 D score on bars?

Kexin has a really cool story because she actually wasn’t even part of the Olympic conversation for China until after world championships in 2007! She wasn’t yet a national team member at that point, so it’s honestly incredible to know that she became an Olympic champion less than a year later. Kexin wasn’t really a high-level gymnast as a junior, but at the Intercity Games in November of 2007, she did an uneven bars routine that made everybody freak out, and so Huang Yubin invited her to join the national team at that point, with just six months to go before Beijing.

They got her international career started as soon as they possibly could, with a few world cups, and at Cottbus just a few weeks into her elite-level career, she got a 16.800, which broke the record for the highest score on bars under the 2008 code of points at that time. REAL CASUAL! And the rest is kind of history.

Kexin’s late entry onto the international elite scene for China is part of the age controversy that surrounded her during Beijing. With the other gymnasts it was mostly about how they “looked young” with no other evidence, but they at least had been known prior to the Olympics at both junior and senior-level competitions, so it was clear that they weren’t coming out of nowhere, but Kexin literally did come out of nowhere, and people were kind of like “is that because she just randomly happened to suddenly have the best bars set in the world, or is it because she’s like, actually 14?” 

For local/provincial competitions in China, Kexin had a 1994 DOB listed, so in 2008 when people started talking about this, the Chinese government took all mentions of her competitive history prior to 2008 off the internet, and they later said that there was an “administrative error” with her DOB because her provincial team had it listed incorrectly, so when they transferred her to the national team in late 2007, they corrected the DOB to 1992. 

I tend to not believe any of the more racist accusations about the Chinese team being underage in 2008, because if you’re going to go off of looks alone with no other evidence, it’s pretty trashy, especially when so many American gymnasts also look like absolute infants at 16. If you’re gonna make accusations about the Chinese gymnasts based on looks, let me throw a 2016-era Ragan Smith right back at you. But admittedly, there was some shady stuff happening with Kexin’s birth year on part of the Chinese federation, and there’s still a part of me that wouldn’t be surprised if they saw this super talented 13-year-old straight crush everyone on bars in November 2007 and then immediately begin scheming to make her 16 for 2008. Of course, none of this would be Kexin’s fault, it’s obviously the Chinese federation and even their government potentially being shady with all of the “fixing” and erasing they did in their records, but Kexin herself said in 2008 that she was 16 so I’m going to choose to believe her.

Do you think Great Britain has a chance of a team medal in either the men’s or women’s fields in 2021?

I don’t think it’s super realistic for either, but you never know what can happen in a three-up three-count final. I feel like with the men, it’s going to be nearly impossible for anyone to break into that China-Japan-Russia bubble, and they could easily still get on the podium counting multiple falls, but the British guys could be first or second in line to take over one of those spots if they have a good day. That said, they’d also have competition from a few other teams, most notably the United States and Ukraine, but they also have several other teams right on their tail, so it’s not going to be easy.

As for the women, I think making the team final is kind of goal number one, as they’ve struggled a bit with being kind of borderline for making that happen over the past couple of years. They got into the final in 2019, but only really because Japan and Germany both had a kind of disastrous qualifications despite being historically stronger teams this quad. The cutoff for the Olympic podium is going to be at least a 166 or so team score (or I’d even go up to 168+ if all three teams who make the podium hit with no falls), but the Brits have steadily been in the 161-162 range, so they’d have a lot of work to improve up to being medal contenders. But again, it’s gymnastics, and we’re now a year out from the Olympics happening, so you never know what could happen in that time, and they obviously have the potential to add some huge routines from Jennifer Gadirova, so it’s kind of a “wait and see” game, and if things go their way, the British team in 2021 could look nothing like it did in 2018 or 2019.

Why did an aerial walkover to back handspring layout stepout go from being practically compulsory to nonexistent?

Code changes. Really that simple. The 2012 code had a bonus for that type of front to back series connection, and the front aerial into a back handspring layout stepout was the easiest way to get the most bonus. However, that specific bonus no longer existed in the 2016 code, so everyone dropped that series and just stuck to the straight back + back series because it was easier and they wouldn’t get deducted for lack of flow between the front and back skills, which was a common deduction in the 2012 quad in addition to also not getting credited with that bonus if your series was too slow. In general it’s REALLY difficult to fluidly connect front to back, so the majority of what we ended up seeing had pauses and kind of ruined the flow of the routine, but I wish there was some incentive for those who ARE good at this kind of connection, because I love to see something like this when it is well-performed.

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

11 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

  1. Pingback: You Asked, The Gymternet Answered – SportUpdates

  2. Regarding Kexin, I find the evidence pretty damning. Not to mention China was already caught falsifying a gymnast’s age at the Sydney Olympics and the team was stripped of its bronze medal. China clearly thought they could get away with breaking whatever rules they wanted. Now Kexin is going to have to lie about her age for the rest of her life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. It’s not about how she appeared (though she obviously went through puberty after Beijing and grew considerably), or we’d still be thinking Shang Chunsong was underage (she obviously was not). It’s about the evidence that Lauren mentions in the article. Unfortunately, we can’t know for sure, but I imagine you’re right, and He Kexin will have to lie (or maybe she’s been convinced that her birthdate was actually registered incorrectly?) forever.

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      • In the case of the 2000 controversy, it might not even matter if He Kexin were to admit being underage if she was. Remember, Yang Yun admitted to being underage but that’s not why the 2000 Chinese team got stripped of bronze; they got the team medal stripped because they did an investigation following her comment and found evidence that Dong Fongxiao was underage, but Yang Yun got to keep her bronze on bars because they found no evidence beyond her word to show that she was underage. I think that if China’s “He Kexin’s age was incorrectly put into the database” thing was able to fly in 2008, they wouldn’t do anything about it later on unless more damning evidence was put forward. Not to mention that in the 80s so many of the best gymnasts including Bicherova, Silivas and Mostepanova all admitted to being underage at various competitions of their early careers and nothing happened to them or their teams.

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  3. There IS evidence that He Kexin and others were underage in Beijing. I don’t understand why if you believe they are underage you are automatically “racist”. The evidence is there and was expunged from the Internet (I wonder why) and fact is China cheated previously in 2000 which was proven with Dong Fangxiao (verdict) and Yang Yun (self-admitted) being underage. So therefore there was precedence and motive to cheat again in Beijing in order to have the best chance at winning gold at home. IMO the media and NBC commentators went about it in the wrong way stating “they looked underage” when they could have brought up the other evidence pieces. Specifically because many of us gym fans on message boards already KNEW that He Kexin was 1994 born, in 2007, a year before the Olympics. It is just super convenient that there was a “clerical error” for He Kexin as well as a few other members of the 2008 Beijing team. China hadn’t been caught cheating in Sydney until 2010, 2 years AFTER Beijing. They cheated to win team gold and also got UB gold as well. They did work hard to bury all evidence though! https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2008/08/evidence-of-age-fraud-mounts-china-insists-gymnasts-are-16/

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  4. British team also didn’t have many gymnasts especially in 2018, and many recovering from injury in 2019. I feel like they have much higher scoring options now. I’m excited to see how they do next year.

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  5. Using “fans on message boards knew” as evidence is pretty laughable. Even someone as knowledgable as Lauren makes mistakes when citing past events in her articles…let alone random fans.

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    • Incorrect.
      Back in 2007 there were various discussions on message boards with videos linked of He Kexin.
      We knew she had talent and we also knew she was a junior athlete and born in 1994.
      There is evidence of her being born in 1994 which was completely wiped clean of the Internet. All of a sudden she is 1992 born and eligible for the Olympics when she is capable of swinging a 7.7 UB routine. When confronted about the change in age, China states clerical error. Two years later they are found guilty of falsifying one athlete’s age in Sydney and another admits she was underage in Sydney.

      Wake up.

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      • Do you understand what evidence mean? If you present “various discussions on message boards with videos linked” on court do you think the judge to side with you?

        Liked by 1 person

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