You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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It’s time for the 286th 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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What happened to Bulgarian gymnastics? In the 80s they were doing a lot of the best floor work and then they disappeared off the face of the earth. Have you ever talked about the controversy between the bronze medal in the team competition on correlation to the Bulgarians? I heard Bulgaria was pretty much underscored.

It’s been kind of sad seeing their decline, especially because they consistently were placing gymnasts into finals and on podiums in the 80s and even in the early 90s, but I honestly don’t have an answer as to why this happened. It coincided with the breakdown of communism, so there’s potentially something there with coaches defecting to the west, which is generally why a lot of the old Eastern bloc programs started seeing declines. Also, generally in the 70s and 80s you’d see a lot of the top competitors in the East end up coaching the next generation of talent once they retired, but with the iron gate opening up, we instead saw a lot of the Bulgarian gymnasts immigrating out of the country, leaving the program pretty dead in their wake with no one to take over.

As for Bulgaria being overlooked in terms of scoring, the 80s were generally shady and MOST competitions I’ve seen had results that were more political than accurate. It was like, we FEEL LIKE these teams or athletes deserve to be on the podium, so that’s what determines rankings more so than any actual code of points. Obviously the United States felt cheated out of the podium in 1988 as well, due to the Rhonda Faehn deduction, but while Bulgaria was quite behind on bars and beam compared to the three top teams, I do think there was also some aspect of holding back on some of their floor scores from what I can remember, and I think part of this was due to the fact that they were in an earlier subdivision and couldn’t be accurately compared to the top teams in the final. Anyway, basically nothing in the 80s or early 90s was fair, hahaha. But this is definitely a competition I need to watch again to see where my current critical eye would have me rank everyone.

When did it happen that the top six compete in the same group in an all-around final? In 1988, the top were spread out in different rotation groups.

I think it started in the early 2000s, right around the time that they cut it down to 24 in an all-around final. It was kind of scattered and random prior to that, from what I can recall, but then I think part of the incentive for doing well in qualifications became that you were then seeded into a “preferred” group for the final, getting to go in Olympic order if you made the top six.

It seems like difficulty has been going down instead of up in many areas. What’s behind that?

I’m not sure what you mean…I think many of the top gymnasts are continuing to push the difficulty, but I also think that many gymnasts are also trying to have greater longevity in the sport, and so they downgrade from bigger skills they used to compete in order to focus on not getting injured. I’m thinking of someone like Ellie Black, or many of the European gymnasts who opt to do simpler beam dismounts now that they were able to compete C-level dismounts this quad…like, there are probably fewer gymnasts doing double back dismounts than we would’ve seen previously, but I don’t think it’s for a reason that is a detriment to the sport. I’d rather see gymnasts who want to keep contributing to the sport doing what they can to stay involved even if it means downgrading a bit, because they’re still putting out really lovely routines. Like, give me Pauline Schäfer’s beautiful but simpler beam over someone chucking a million E+ skills with zero attention to form anyday. I think after the introduction of the open-ended code in 2006, everyone ran to throw in as much difficulty as humanly possible at the expense of how their routines actually looked, but now it seems like we’re finding more of a balance between high difficulty and polished routines, and I think recent judging (especially on beam) has shown that you can’t just chuck skills and expect good scores anymore, so it makes sense that gymnasts are focusing more on clean gymnastics…and if they can do really difficult gymnastics super cleanly, like Simone Biles, then you can get the best of both worlds.

Why does Alice D’Amato’s floor routine have such huge deductions? Her Serie A routine in Florence this year seemed pretty clean. Where do the deductions come from?

She has a lot of little things that add up, generally. Like she’s one who can have perfect landings on all of her passes, but she also has a lot of inherent form deductions, and they’re mostly due to a softness that she has with all of her skills. She’s just not super “tight” on anything. Her legs are apart on her double layout, her knees are bent and apart on her triple (which was also underrotated here), her turns are stumbled around and don’t really have accuracy, her feet are floppy on leaps…overall it looked like a great routine, but the best floor routines in the world with gorgeous form are only scoring in the low 8s, so it’s not really surprising for me to see this routine with so many deductions getting a 7.65.

Why are people always so surprised when Ellie Black does well at worlds? She’s placed top 13 at literally every single world championships and Olympics since 2013!

I don’t think people are surprised that she does well, but I think maybe there is sometimes surprise that she does SO well in making the top five consistently when she’s not one of the strongest gymnasts in the world in terms of difficulty. It’s like people being surprised Nina Derwael is now consistently top five in the all-around with just a full on vault and pretty low floor difficulty. But both are so solid and consistent, it doesn’t matter that they’re behind on difficulty if they are hitting every routine with really excellent E scores. Some gymnasts are so far ahead in difficulty that mistakes don’t really matter as much and they’re going to get on the podium regardless of how they perform, but most gymnasts in the world are at a level where mistakes matter, and if Ellie Black is hitting really excellent gymnastics and is like a point behind in difficulty compared to another gymnast, but she’s hitting and those “stronger” gymnasts aren’t, obviously she’s going to have an edge.

Which of Beth Tweddle’s bars would have a higher D score today, 2004 or 2012?

Oh, I’m gonna guess her 2012 routine for SURE, but I’m also gonna go through the work and see actual D scores. For her 2004 routine, she’s counting one E, five D’s, and two C’s, plus she gets 0.1 CV for the 1.5 pirouette to Healy, plus the 2.0 CR, making this a 5.2 routine today. Actually, it could be 5.4…I can’t tell in the video if she’s doing the Healy into a reverse grip front giant (which is a C) or an L grip front giant (which is a D), so it’s a 5.2 if reverse grip, but if it’s an L grip she gets the extra tenth for difficulty plus a tenth in CV. For her 2012 routine, she’s counting two F’s, one E, three D’s, and two C’s, plus she’d get CV for the Khorkina + Gienger (0.1), Tweddle + Ezhova (0.2), and Ezhova + van Leeuwen (0.2), giving her a 6.0 D score under today’s code of points.

What is the most difficult vault anyone has ever done in MAG and WAG with a full twist in preflight?

For WAG, it’s a full-on layout full off the table, which is rated the same as a DTY because it basically IS a DTY, just with one of the twists happening onto the table…and for MAG, there’s a full-on with 2½ twists off rated a 5.8 in the code, but this would be like doing a Yurchenko 3½, so I’m not sure of anyone has done it…I can’t find anyone if so, but Kenzo Shirai (of course) has done the full-on double full off, which is a 5.4.

Isn’t it ironic that gym fans keep talking about listening to athletes more, but the moment Jade Carey and her dad decide to pursue the Olympic dream through the world cup circuit, they say USA Gymnastics should prioritize the team?

Don’t I know it. There have been multiple instances over the past couple of years where gymnasts have spoken up about what they think is best for them, and in all of these instances, fans have felt that for some reason they’re more entitled to their wants and needs than the gymnasts are to theirs. I’m talking about all of the gymnasts at the ranch wanting Rhonda Faehn to stay, I’m talking about Riley McCusker wanting to not show her routines on the stream for the American Classic which wasn’t originally supposed to be broadcast, I’m talking about Jade Carey wanting to qualify as an individual instead of trying to make the team…in all of these instances the gymnasts are finally speaking up for what they want and for what they think is best for them, and in all of these instances, people have shamed and ridiculed them for “not knowing what’s best for them,” with the most disgusting comment of all being when John Manly said that “the last time we let the gymnasts decide for themselves, Larry Nassar happened.” It’s seriously disturbing and fully unfair, especially the sheer hypocrisy when it comes from the very people who are most vocal about demanding that the gymnasts not be silenced. Just because you don’t agree with a gymnast’s choices for herself doesn’t mean that she “doesn’t know what’s best for her.” And like…how would you, someone who doesn’t even know her and who isn’t an elite gymnast, know what’s better for her more than she’d know for herself?! It blows my mind at the very least, and straight-up enrages me in the worst of these situations.

MyKayla Skinner’s YouTube is monetized, but she mentioned that she’s going back to Utah to compete for her senior year. Do you think she’ll get in trouble with the NCAA for her YouTube channel?

She must have cleared it with someone. I think while it was initially an issue for athletes to make money from social media, and while they still can’t endorse anything for money on YouTube, they seem to have gotten a bit more lenient in terms of the more basic ad revenue streams from ads auto-playing on YouTube videos, so I’m assuming this is fine for her as long as she’s not actually making endorsements.

Could Peng Peng Lee have been more successful for Canada than Ellie Black if she hadn’t gotten injured?

I think in the sense that she could have outperformed Ellie in London specifically, yeah, probably…but since she was so injury-prone, I don’t think she would’ve had anywhere near the longevity Ellie has had at the elite level, so Ellie could still be more successful in that respect. Like, hypothetically, if Peng Peng didn’t get injured in 2012 and figured out a way to never get injured ever in her life, then maybe she also could’ve gone on to multiple worlds and Olympics, but you could prescribe that same hypothetical to literally everyone, so it doesn’t make much sense to play the “what if” game with that because like, yeah, if no one could ever get injured, the entire sport would be vastly different.

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

6 thoughts on “You Asked, The Gymternet Answered

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

  3. I disagree regarding Ellie Black, didn’t she have the third highest d score out of the all around finalists in Stuttgart?

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    • In Stuttgart, yeah, but that was partly because she upgraded to the Rudi and also brought in some beam changes that got her D a bit higher. She’s always had really strong difficulty, I’m not saying that she’s super far behind, but her difficulty isn’t always what you’d expect from someone who makes an all-around podium, especially when you consider the U.S. girls, the top Russians, the top Chinese…Ellie’s close but she’s not someone you’d be like “she’ll finish top three” when you’re also considering others and I think that’s partly/largely due to her difficulty in comparison with some of those top girls. That said, she’s obviously stronger than most of those in the all-around in general, so we’re not comparing her with like, a girl who’s going to place 15th or something, just to those who are often considered more likely for the podium over her.

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  4. Literally my only issue with Jade going for an individual spot is that it feels like special treatment because she’s the only one they seemed to have allowed to do it. In terms of fairness to all of the athletes the federation should have said they were going for two non nominative spots or allowed anyone to try for a nominative spot who wanted to.

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