It’s time for the 292nd edition of You Asked, The Gymternet Answered!
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What’s the difference between a ring leap and a Yang Bo and all of the other split jumps that look like that?
There are so many leaps and jumps with such slight differences, it’s honestly really hard to tell them apart unless you’ve done your homework and are paying super close attention…and even then, it sometimes happens so quickly, it’s like, what did she just do?!
To answer the first part question, about a ring leap compared to a Yang Bo, I’m actually going to first say that a ring leap is a leap, and a Yang Bo is a jump. However, a ring jump also exists, so I’ll compare the ring jump with the Yang Bo, because the difference is subtle between these two jumps, but it is there. Both involve a split position in the air with the head thrown back, but in the ring jump, the back leg makes a ring shape with the knee bent and the toes brushing the head, while the Yang Bo doesn’t involve a ring shape, but rather an oversplit and a greater arch in the back.
The difference in leg shape is really the deciding factor, but often when a gymnast attempts a ring element and her leg ends up being nowhere near there, so when you see that happen you’re kinda like…is she doing a ring jump with a straight back leg? Or is she doing a Yang Bo without the oversplit and back flexibility? WE NEVER KNOW!
You also have the straight up split jump and the sissone, which are both relatively easy and are often used by gymnasts who aren’t strong at dance elements but need to get the 180 connection requirement out of the way. These are both jumps with a full split, with the split jump parallel to the beam and the sissone at an angle, but sometimes the body shape and positioning in the air can make it really unclear which is which. And sometimes, a gymnast doing a ring jump with a low back leg just looks like she’s doing a straight up split jump, while a gymnast going for a Yang Bo without the back flexibility or oversplit just looks like she’s doing a sissone.
When you throw leaps into it, it can get even more difficult. The split jump and ring jump both have leap variations as well, with the key difference being that a jump starts off from two feet and goes straight up and down, while a leap takes off from one foot and travels forward a bit in the air. But sometimes a gymnast who means to leap actually ends up jumping, and so again, the positions can be quite ambiguous. Someone could come into a meet with a ring leap they expect to get rewarded with a D-level element, but with an incorrect takeoff or a low back leg and no arch, they could end up getting a B for a split jump or split leap.
What’s the deal with Romania? Will they ever be a threat again?
Never say never, but they definitely won’t be a threat in the next couple of quads. It doesn’t matter how many talented gymnasts they have right now (which isn’t very many). If they don’t figure out the situation with who’s running the federation, who’s responsible for training the developmental and national teams, and who’s putting in the work to improve resources and training facilities, they’re not going anywhere because the kids coming into the sport – again, no matter how talented – won’t have what they need to be successful in the long run.
Who are some of the most robbed gymnasts in history?
I generally don’t like the phrases “she was robbed” or “she deserved this more” in terms of talking about titles, because that kind of suggests that the other gymnast “took” it from her or was “less deserving” which is never true. Anytime there is a clear “wtf” situation where someone looked way more likely to win than someone else, it’s always on the judges, so I know it’s semantics, but maybe look at it more like “who did the judges cheat the hardest?” Or something?
As for an answer, I feel like every time I watch a competition, there are always like 20 people where I’m like “wtf was that score” so I’d probably have 50 different answers for this question with all of my grievances, haha. I feel like of all time, maybe Ecaterina Szabo in 1984? Obviously the Olympics are the BIG DEAL meet and where these little scoring discrepancies matter the most, because you’re gonna fight about missing an Olympic gold more than you’d cry about missing a national gold or something. But yes, Szabo, and then I also think the scoring in the late 80s was insane. Bulgaria and the United States in 1988 were especially hurt, Bulgaria with being a bit low-balled, and then the United States with the East Germans whining about that bars penalty…I also don’t think Svetlana Boginskaya should’ve won the 1989 world all-around title. I just recently watched that meet and had pretty strong feelings about it, haha.
I think a lot of people also think Shannon Miller was “robbed” in 1992 and I know that’s a bit of a controversy with people swinging one way or the other, but I go back and forth with that because she and Tatiana Gutsu were both SO good, so I wouldn’t call either really “cheated”…if anything, I wish they had just both won gold, I guess? And I guess the big cheat to me is really Andrea Raducan not getting to keep her all-around gold in 2000, but that’s not related to judging, obviously. If we’re adding worlds in, I think the snub I’m most offended by is Asuka Teramoto not getting a beam medal in 2014. THAT ONE HURT.
Imagine the width of the beam is increased by an inch. Would it reduce the chance of falling, or actually increase it? Gymnasts are used to grabbing the sides of the original beam on skills like back handsprings, but their palms would no longer “wrap” the new beam.
I think they’d figure out a way to adjust to using their hands differently on the beam than they do now, like more like one hand behind the other than wrapped I guess…or they’d have to figure out how to have their arms further apart with their hands still grabbing the sides even though their hands would be further apart? I’m sure the manufacturers would work with experts in gymnastics to determine the best way to make it work if they were serious about going forward…I feel like there would have to be a way around it and that hand placement wouldn’t be the thing to keep a major change like this (if it were actually happening) from moving forward.
What is going on with Viktoria Komova? Has she retired?
Yeah, I don’t think she ever officially came out and said “I’m retired!” but I mean…yeah. She’s done, and has been for a while at this point.
Where do NCAA programs with large budgets get their money? Do the teams bring in more money or do they get more support from their schools?
The athletic departments usually budget out per sport out of an overall budget for the department, not based on the money each individual sport takes in. Gymnastics doesn’t make a ton of money at all compared to sports like football, but it’s one of the most expensive programs to run at the NCAA level, so athletic departments are essentially investing more into gymnastics programs than they’re getting out of them, which is why it’s so hard to get a university or college to include gymnastics in its department at all, and why MAG especially has dwindled down into almost nothing over the past 30 years. They justify the high spend for teams that do well, but many teams that aren’t top programs end up taking budget cuts and making sacrifices to keep the team running, like taking coach buses 15 hours for road meets instead of flying, or having only one competition leo each season. If a program is like, Oklahoma or UCLA or one of the big SECs, they obviously get a lot of support because they’ve proven themselves as being at the top of their game nationally, and so these are the teams you see with private jets and state-of-the-art gyms and trunks full of leos, but many teams struggle to get the funding needed to have the same advantages as the top teams.
Why do scores tend to build at the end of a team lineup?
It’s kind of psychological…I think because the standard has been basically forever that the weaker gymnasts go first and the best go later, judges have it in their head that it’s always going to be that way, and so they tend to start out being a little more strict with their leadoff routines, and get a bit more lenient as they move on. It’s partly a known strategy, partly subconscious, but I absolutely hate it because just because a gymnast went last doesn’t mean that she was the best, and unfortunately in NCAA judging, they will end up rewarding really mediocre routines with 9.95+ scores because the routine just happened to be last.
I’m here for giving out scores that rank gymnasts correctly, but I feel like judging has gotten lazy in NCAA because they just assume that the best are going to be at the end of the lineup, and so they build and rank by what the perceived “best to worst” ranking is based on the competitive order instead of doing the work to rank routines appropriately by taking the actual deductions that exist. It drives me crazy to see one of the weakest routines in a lineup outrank routines that were better just because that weak routine went up last and the better routines happened earlier on.
Is the Nabieva the only layout Tkachev that a WAG athlete has competed? Why don’t we see others?
Internationally, yes, so far, and I think it’s just because doing a Tkachev (or most skills, tbh) out of a toe-on is easier for most gymnasts than doing a Tkachev out a stalder or clear hip entry. This year, Karis German of WCC started competing a stalder layout Tkachev, which is awesome, and several gymnasts – including Sunisa Lee – are starting to train layout Tkachevs that they catch in mixed grip, and I’ve even heard rumors of a WAG version of the Liukin happening in one gym, which would be so cool. It’s been ten years since Tatiana Nabieva debuted her skill, but other gymnasts have only really started taking this skill seriously in the past couple of years, so now that these gymnasts are beginning to master it and work on other variations, I think we’re going to start seeing a bit more variety with the layout Tkachevs in the coming years.
What is the dismount called that Riley McCusker competes and what is the value? Does anyone else currently do it? I sit done from L grip or reverse grip? I can’t determine if it’s the Fan or the dismount competed by Huang Huidan.
Riley competes a half twist to a double back, which is kind of like the opposite of an arabian dismount (aka a half twist to a double front). This is a Fan dismount, aka the dismount Fan Yilin got named in 2017. Huang Huidan does the Arai, which looks similar, but in the Arai, the half twist is done within the first flip, so it ends up being a front flip with a half twist to a back flip.
These dismounts can be really ambiguous if you’re watching in real time…most who attempt it are probably hoping to go for the Arai, because it has an E rating, but this dismount is definitely more difficult, and most who attempt the Arai just end up doing the Fan, which is easier at a D. Just look for where the twist comes in…if it happens before either of the saltos, then it’s the Fan, and if it happens during the first salto, then it’s an Arai. I actually think Fan ended up competing her eponymous dismount because she was trying an Arai and not getting credit for it…so she was like, well, I might as well submit my own version, haha.
It’s so sad to read about how many former elites actually experienced terrible things at their gyms. Can you think of prominent elite-level coaches from the 90s and 2000s that have maintained reputations of being good coaches and providing well-rounded experiences for their athletes?
The only one who comes to mind for me is Kelli Hill. This is hard to say knowing some of the things she has defended and said on social media, but I know several gymnasts who trained with her in the 90s and early 2000s, and they would defend her to the death because while she was tough and stubborn, and while they didn’t always agree with her, she kept them safe and healthy, and ALWAYS stood up for them, which at that era is apparently completely unheard of. I feel like she has recently behaved problematically with some of her comments, and in hindsight, she’s probably done some things in the past that would be not okay now, but at a time when verbal and physical abuse were common and normal in every elite-level gym, she was like a beacon of hope and all of her gymnasts I’ve talked to have said they basically would’ve died at some of the other gyms, and the other gymnasts at camp would always tell them they wished Kelli could be their coach. Recently, I’ve heard that Dominique Dawes spoke out this year about the tough training environment she faced, and how she’s said that she no longer speaks to Kelli because she’s coming to terms with everything she had dealt with in the sport, but I think even with that said, based on what lots of other gymnasts have talked about, Kelli is still basically the gold standard of the 90s compared to literally every other coach that existed.
I’m sure there are probably others who were a little more low-key, like Tom Foerster, who had the occasional elite and is still very well-respected, but Kelli stands out as one who had a lot of gymnast at a very high level and still to this day continues to do that while more or less maintaining a reputation as a good coach who stands up for her athletes (though again her reputation on social media leaves something to be desired, lol…I guess at least that hopefully doesn’t affect how she treats her athletes).
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Article by Lauren Hopkins